This Sunday sees Newcastle’s last game in the Premier League for at least a season, if not longer and an opportunity to make an updated version of this montage:
We face a Spurs side second in the table, needing a draw to all but seal second place and finishing above rivals Arsenal for the first time since 1995. Spurs have had a great league season, improving from 5th last year and with the best defence. The club and the squad give the impression of everyone working together well, the polar opposite of the ongoing calamities at SJP.
Our home record against Spurs is not stellar, having won one and lost two of the last five. Seemingly, we do our best work at White Heart Lane, with our third win on the bounce only one of 2 away wins this season (why are we going down again?).
Onto this dead rubber, what to discuss? Once again this atmosphere at SJP could be an odd mixture. Recriminations and anger at Ashley, Carr and Charnley are to be expected, in addition to players such as Colback, Coloccini, Janmaat, Sissoko, and possibly Wijnaldum. But tempering the now usual end of season protests and disquiet will be the positive energy of fans showing their appreciation of Mr Benítez.
On the playing side, I would hope some of the under performing senior pros are dropped, although this might save them from the vitriol of the crowd. These players will now be eyeing a move away, or in the case of Sissoko have been talking about it for years.
One suspects a few of these players wouldn’t mind a move to Tottenham and are deluded enough to think they could hack it there after terrible form this season. Will this mean we might see some of the application that has been sorely missing this campaign? Also, out of pure curiosity, I’d like to see Saivet play.
But who can come in to replace them? Returning loanees Sammy Ameobi, Adam Armstrong, Gaël Bigirimana and Haris Vučkić could be near the squad with a view to their suitability as Championship players. In my view the first two could work, but the latter two won’t make it.
Saturday morning saw Rafa speak to the press, addressing concerns about his future by confirming that discussions are ongoing (and promising), and a decision will probably be made within a couple of weeks.
“I have experienced two promotions with different clubs in Spain and I have experienced being relegated too….so I can understand that there are some people who say ‘no he cannot stay’, some people say ‘he will do it’.
“That is a situation where we have to be calm, we have to be sure. What I want is the same as the fans want. We want a successful team, we want a strong team to be promoted to the Premier League again as soon as possible and that is the situation now.
“We have to talk, we will have more meetings and then we will see what happens. But if I am here and I am discussing these things, because obviously in my head it’s a chance, it’s a good chance and we have to keep talking.”
– Rafa Benítez
To press home the feeling of under-performing players, we will actually be half decent in this match. With the new partnership of Mbemba Lascelles looking solid, we won’t concede easily. Of course, if we can’t score vs Villa we are bloody unlikely to break down the leagues best defence. 0-1.
Where to Watch / Listen
Match commentary is live on BBC Radio Newcastle.
How do you think we’ll get on in this game? Have your say in our discussion thread.
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