Sitting 17th and three points away from the relegation zone, Newcastle United may be left pondering the possibility of Championship football once more next season. A club as big as Newcastle shouldn’t even need to think about the dropzone. Yet, here they are for the third time since 2009- this time under Steve Bruce, an appointment many were quick to oppose.
The previous two relegations were almost expected; the squads were not up to scratch, and financial investment was not made. This time, however, should they suffer the dreaded drop, they can have no excuses.
Mike Ashley, for once, did his part through investment. In came Callum Wilson, in came Ryan Fraser and in came Jamal Lewis to all add to a squad already stacked with Allan Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almiron. It is the investment Rafa Benitez was often crying out for but did not receive.
Yet, instead of handing a Champions League winner the money to splash, he gave it to new man Steve Bruce. And now, he is paying the price. Newcastle have a squad good enough for mid-table but a manager more suited for a relegation scrap.
And as the injuries mount up and the pressure rises, a relegation scrap could soon see Newcastle suffer the drop once more.
Newcastle Relegation: An Increasingly Likely Reality
Fulham Revival Coming at the Worst Time for Newcastle
Heading into the new year, the bottom three looked certain for relegation. But, now, with 12 games to go, Fulham’s recent revival has left many questioning their survival chances. And, as the questions begin to mount, the last thing you need is a growing injury list.
Yet, that is what Newcastle are contending with. First, it was Wilson- the man providing the goals for the Magpies- who suffered. Then, to follow on from that, Saint-Maximin and Almiron followed suit to strip the Newcastle attack bare to leave Steve Bruce’s side as vulnerable as ever.
The point is, however, at this stage of the season, Newcastle should be nowhere near a relegation scrap. But, here they are after a summer when many believed progression had been made. Perhaps under Benitez, it would have. If Benitez was handed the money to spend, Newcastle could be in the comforts of mid-table and not the insufferable position they find themselves in.
Just look at Aston Villa, for example, Dean Smith was handed the chance to invest in the summer. And, he proved he was the right man for the job. Not only did he assemble a squad good enough for European qualification, but he also helped guide that newfound squad from the depths of relegation contenders to 7-2 victors against Liverpool.
Villa are living proof that, under the right manager, the investment can reap the rewards. Hand the funds to the wrong man, however, and you’ll find yourselves in a relegation scrap- no matter the summer arrivals.
The Newcastle Relegation Run in
At this stage in the season, with their attack stripped bare through injuries, Newcastle cannot afford to drop needless points- starting with Sunday’s game against West Brom. Whilst Fulham travel to Liverpool, Newcastle must take advantage to potentially extend the gap to six points.
Should they do that, then the safety net will grow to a comfortable length for all those involved. If they carry on with the needlessly dropped points, however, Fulham will take advantage. Scott Parker has built a side ready to survive through good football.
From a neutrals perspective, the ideal scenario is that the relegation fight between both Newcastle and Fulham reaches the breaking point as the season comes to a close.
Should the three-point gap remain until the final day, Fulham will have the chance to survive by beating Newcastle in front of a percentage of fans at Craven Cottage. It is a scenario Newcastle will be desperate to avoid, but, based on current form, it is a reality they may be forced to confront in their bid to avoid relegation.
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