SUPER MAC Toon’s fate could be decided by Yuletide
WINS IN CRUCIAL GAMES AHEAD ARE VITAL IF THE MAGPIES ARE TO ENJOY VERY HAPPY CHRISTMAS
NEWCASTLE United are about to receive the best Christmas present possible - or the worst.
Because come Santa’s visit the Magpies can either be virtually safe from the dreaded threat of relegation or be doomed.
They have a shocking run of fixtures out of the way up to the international break having played Spurs, Chelsea, Arsenal. Manchester City and Manchester United, losing the lot by a single goal.
Now is their opportunity to collect muchneeded points.
The 10 games leading up to Christmas are Brighton
(h), Southampton (a), Watford (h), Bournemouth (h), Burnley (a), West Ham (h), Everton (a), Wolves (h), Huddersfield (a) and Fulham (h).
All are winnable, though no team is going to win them all of course. However, a bountiful harvest is available. Now let us think of the alternative. If United do not gain a good number of points then they can be down, or virtually so, by Christmas.
I feel uneasy. I have to say that as much as it pains me.
This squad worries me. Losing can become a habit just like winning can and they have lost six out of eight in the Premier League. Seven out of nine if you include the League Cup. What bothers me more than losing to the big guns, when surely the odd point could have been gleaned somewhere, is not winning any of the supposedly-easier matches against Cardiff, Crystal Palace, Leicester and Nottingham Forest.
These are the sort of sides Newcastle are about to face searching for their salvation. I have thought all season a training session on Thursday United cannot win because they cannot score goals. Then they grab two in the first 10 minutes at Man U and still lose!
It was the first time this season they have scored first and the first time they have scored more than once in a game. Yet it brought precisely nowt.
I am desperate to find a chink of light. I really am.
United MUST survive for the sake of the fans, of the manager, and of the players who are bighearted and willing.
However it feels to me like Mike Ashley has killed this club and the fact he now appears to knows it having deemed to turn up for the last three matches is no consolation.
The moment The Red Devils pulled a goal back at Old Trafford we knew what was going to happen.
All the confidence drained out of United as though the plug had been pulled out of a full sink.
Martin Dubravka pulled off a string of super saves yet we still leaked three goals in the last 45 minutes.
For the winner, Newcastle left two players unmarked in a crowded six-yard box.
The ball sailed over the head of the first to be headed in by the second, one of the smallest guys on the pitch. Manchester United were as bad in the opening half as I have seen them since Bobby Charlton retired in the seventies and the club was relegated. These are worrying times yet Benitez is helpless in terms of bringing much-needed new talent in. He has to face these crucial 10 games with what he has.
He will have to call on all his organisational skills and the players on all their reserves of determination and pride to rescue a serious situation.
United MUST survive for the sake of the fans, of the manager, and of the players who are big-hearted and willing
Rafa Benitez talks to his players during