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Newcastle Fans Forced To Place Faith In Unreliable Players For Salvation

Last game, away from home, perhaps only a win will do. It’s down to Newcastle’s players to pull the club out of the mess they created…

Newcastle have the fans, but not the players...

Newcastle have the fans, but not the players...

It is said that pride comes before a fall.

For Newcastle fans, pride is perhaps the one commodity they possess in abundance.  Perhaps the most devout fans in the Premiership, they follow their team with great passion.

The other commodity they have is faith.

Over the years, tangible success for the North East club has been fleeting and rarely satisfying — they haven’t won a major trophy since the 1969 Fairs Cup. Managers have come and gone, chairman have failed to deliver on their promises, and big name players have, more often than not, failed to live up to expectations.

Yet despite historical evidence to the controversy, the “Toon Army” still believe. Without past success, it is perhaps all they can do.

This season, however, the faith of the fans has often been proven to be misplaced. Performances have ranged from the tepid to the downright abysmal, and as a result it is hardly surprising the club finds itself in its current predicament.

Going into the defining games of what has been branded “Survival Sunday”, the scenario is delicately poised. Newcastle sit one point behind Hull City, and two adrift of arch-rivals Sunderland. While Aston Villa will pose a tough challenge for the Toon Army, their rivals have to contend with games against Manchester United and Chelsea respectively.

Crucially, Newcastle’s game takes place at Villa Park — while the other two teams will enjoy home support as they look to stay in the top flight for next season. Three thousand travelling Newcastle fans will attend the game — but they will not be able to influence the players like they might have done had the game been in front of 55,000 at St James’ Park.

On Sunday, it will be down to the players — the same players that in 37 games have yet to prove they can shoulder such responsibility.

Newcastle fans might take pride in their club, but it will be the players who will have to prevent a terrible fall.

One former Newcastle player who always shouldered responsibility was Alan Shearer. The striker signed for his boyhood club in 1996 for a then-world record £15m, and went on to break the club’s all-time goalscoring record.

Now interim manager at St. James’ Park, the former England international does not seem interested in reducing the pressure on his players:

“It’s bigger than a cup final, a hell of a lot bigger than a cup final,” Shearer said of the upcoming match at Villa Park. “We know what’s at stake, we know what’s riding on it and I am pretty confident we can go there and give our great fans something to shout about, I really am.”

For Newcastle, the task is simple — in all likelihood a draw will not do, so they must win. If they do, then in all probability they will be safe for another season of Premiership football.

Controversy may have dogged the Hull-Man United tie this week, but whatever team the champions put out will be more than capable of beating a side that has had a woeful run in recent weeks.

Win, then, and other results should ensure Newcastle’s safety for another season.

“I am totally convinced we will get out of it, yes, and I think more importantly, so are my players,” Shearer said. “I believe if we go there and win, it will be a very good day for us.”

The Newcastle players may believe they will win, but the fact is they will have to go out and make it happen themselves. Villa have only won six of their 18 home league games this season — but they have a squad more than capable of victory.

The Newcastle players must ensure it is they who come away with the points. They owe it to the fans that have put up with the various debacles of the past year — and they owe it to themselves.

With Habib Beye — the club’s only senior right back — injured, Sebastien Bassong and Joey Barton suspended, and Obafemi Martins struggling with a knee injury, the team will be severely depleted. It is yet another obstacle to overcome in pursuit of survival.

Make no mistake, Newcastle United are a massive club. While fans of Leeds United, Manchester City, and Nottingham Forest might offer some disagreement, the Magpies would arguably be the biggest club ever to be relegated from England’s top tier were it to happen on Sunday.

But more importantly, it would be a tragedy for the city that is so intrinsically linked with the fortunes of its football team.

If it was down to the fans, Newcastle would be comfortably ensconced in the top half of the table. But it is down to players, and they have yet to consistently prove they are of Premiership quality this term.

Not for the first time, all the Newcastle fans can have is faith. 

May 22, 2009 - Posted by | Sport, World Football | , ,


  1. good article read my article it relevant to this discussion:

    Comment by mrsuperfly | May 22, 2009 | Reply

  2. also why doesn’t geremi get a game anymore, hes surely better than R.taylor and K.Nolan( and can play both posistions)???

    Comment by mrsuperfly | May 22, 2009 | Reply

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