Wednesday nights draw in the Premier League was met by relief by Newcastle fans. But it wasn’t the Tyneside team that were playing, rather a game between Burnley and Fulham. There were groans as Robbie Brady failed to clear Aina’s attempt which nestled into the Burnley net, yet almost joy as Ashley Barnes brought the Lancashire side level. A draw for both teams seemed good enough to relax the Geordie faithful, for a few days at least.
But why were this result so important to Newcastle fans? Are we level on points, or behind Fulham in the table, and needed a result in our favour to make the escape from relegation that bit more attainable? The simple answer is No! Newcastle before the game were 7 points clear of the London side, and this was Scott Parkers’ side game in hand. No having played the same amount of games, Fulham sit 6 points behind Newcastle, having played the same amount of games.
To use a cliche favoured from many a Premier league manager, no game is easy. But having seen the recently promoted side pick up 3 points against Everton at the weekend, and Newcastle to lay and die for Chelsea on Monday night, this felt like the beginning of the end. A win for Fulham against Sean Dyche’s side, felt like it would have been the final nail in the coffin in Newcastle’s aim to avoid relegation. The feeling on Tyneside is that under the management of Steve Bruce, Newcastle wouldn’t have enough to avoid a third relegation in the Mike Ashley era.
To make matters worse, this isn’t the business end of the season, when there are only a few games left, where every point is essential, we currently sit in the middle of February with 14 games left of the season. There are plenty of point to pick up between now and the the final game, yet the confidence and optimism has been drained out of Toon fans that much over the past couple of years that there only seems to one outcome, come the end of the season.
With tough games against Manchester United and Wolves to come, and Fulham to play again before Steve Bruce’s side take the pitch again, confidence is at an all time low. The loss of Callum Wilson for 6-8 weeks has added to the black cloud that constantly seems to hang over Tyneside, with fans rightly questioning where the goals are going to come from?
Lets try and add a bit of optimism into this. Fulham have only won 3 games all season, Newcastle have won 7. Fulham have got tough games coming up. Their game against fellow strugglers Sheffield United isn’t a foregone conclusion, a trip to Crystal Palace the following weekend isn’t an easy game. Then Games against Liverpool and Manchester City follow that. Throw in the fact they have to play Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, and Wolves before the end of the season, it isn’t going to be easy for Scott Parkers side.
Newcastle do have tough games before the end of the season, with most of the top 6 left to play, there are some winnable games. We play all the teams in the bottom 3 as it stands now, games against Brighton and Burnley are certainly winnable. But this is Newcastle United, and nothing is ever as black and white as we would like it.
Confidence has been completely drained from the Newcastle supporters, at our ability to win games. We do have some decent players in our squad, there are some where more is needed, but we should have enough to avoid a third relegation under Mike Ashley. But we are constantly looking over our shoulders at those behind us, which is never a good place for fans to be, regardless of what some in the media tell us we should be feeling. The last 2 games against Sheffield United and Fulham, with the current feeling are massive 6 point games, but football is a funny ol’ game, and anything can change between now and then.
Is it too early to panic about going down? Possibly, but that feeling is always there! Especially under the current manager who seems on intent of seeing positives from even the worse performance, which helps no one. It would be nice to put a bit of daylight between ourselves and those beneath us. But until that happens, it is going to be a nervy last 14 games for the Toon. Pundits can say we should have enough to stay up. But until that looks more likely to be true, the atmosphere on Tyneside will always be, the worse can happen.
Is it too early to start looking at other results, and wanting them to go our way? No it isn’t, nothing is ever set in stone with our once great club. The team need to pick up more points, but if those around us can fail to do the same, it might ease a lot of the pressure we as fans are putting on ourselves, even if the club aren’t!