When Alan Pardew left Newcastle United to become the new manager of fellow English Premier League team Crystal Palace at the start of January this year, Newcastle were sat comfortably in 10th place in the league with 28 points. In the 17 games since Pardew has left, Newcastle have won a meagre eight points and are in free-fall down the Premier League table. Last weekend’s 3-0 loss to fellow relegation strugglers Leicester City was Newcastle’s 8th consecutive league defeat. With only three games left to play, nine points cover the bottom seven teams in the English Premier League and as the fight to avoid falling into one of the three relegation places intensifies, Newcastle are facing the real possibility of relegation into the second tier of English football for a second time in less than ten years.
With Pardew’s departure, assistant John Carver was asked to fill the managerial void at St James’ until the end of the season. As the weeks have progressed, Carver and his player’s attempts to arrest the slump in form has lacked any sort of fight or leadership on the pitch resulting in sub-par performances and Carver publicly questioning his players commitment to the cause.
Many Newcastle fans place the blame of the team’s current slump in form in the hands of team owner Mike Ashley. With the sale of a number of players over the past two seasons such as Yohan Cabaye and Demba Ba and cheaper, underachieving replacement signings, the warning signs have been there for Newcastle. Ongoing protests against Ashley have occurred at recent home games adding to the negativity surrounding the club, these are sure to escalate if Newcastle are relegated. Ashley’s seeming refusal to invest in new high-profile signings has led to little for Newcastle fans to cheer about over the past couple of seasons. Early stage League and FA Cup exits have become the norm coupled with mid-table league finishing positions.
As other teams start to hit late season form – Leicester City have taken 15 points out of a possible 18 in recent weeks – Newcastle seem rudderless and devoid of ideas. A home game against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday is followed by a trip to Loftus Road to face Queens Park Rangers, themselves in severe relegation trouble, followed by a closing day home game against West Ham United. Newcastle fans will be hoping that their team are able to stop the rot against West Bromwich this weekend to give them some momentum into their last two games. However, most fans will admit that it may well be too little too late.
Reports this week have suggested that former England manager Steve McLaren has been approached about taking on the Newcastle managerial job but he has publicly stated that he is happy to remain at his current club, Championship team Derby County. At this stage of the season and with Newcastle’s perilous situation it is no surprise that McLaren declined the opportunity to make the move to Tyneside.
Seven teams are in the battle for relegation with bookmakers feeling that both Burnley and Queens Park Rangers are already doomed for the drop. Odds for the remaining teams do, however, offer some value, in particular Newcastle who can be backed at 6.5 (13/2) to be relegated. If they fail to take any points off West Bromwich this weekend you can be assured that this price will shorten dramatically.