Why do managers always complain about opponents resting players on the last game of the season? Alan Shearer became the latest to ignore 37 games in a season when he admitted he was worried that Manchester United and Chelsea will rest players for the last round of Premiership matches. Yes they’re playing Hull City and Sunderland, Newcastle’s relegation rivals, but the Geordies aren’t 3rd bottom out of bad luck.
They’ve been dreadful all season, in fact it’s a miracle they’ve managed to take it to the final game. Forget Middlesbrough and Southgate’s insipid “it’s not impossible” comments over the weekend. Boro are down and Southgate has to hold his hands up and take the blame, completely out of his depth, Saturday’s crowd of 27,621 said it all about how the Boro fans felt towards him. There is one place left in the relegation battle and it’s going to come down to one of 3 teams, Hull City, Newcastle United and Sunderland.
Surely Shearer must realise how foolish he sounds, clutching at straws after Newcastle’s worst season since 1988-1989, which also saw them relegated out of the top flight. Manchester United could play 11 clowns against Hull City and lose, but it won’t cover up the fact that Newcastle have been dreadful all season. By saying he’s worried about who United pick on Sunday, it just sounds a little bit silly. They’ve a Champions League final 3 days later, they’ve won the Premiership again, so why not let a few squad players have a run out. It’s not like they’re going to play 11 players who will be making their debuts in the Premiership is it.
The conspiracy theorists are already unpicking the relationship between Sir Alex Ferguson and Phil Brown, looking at the fact they actually are good friends and Ferguson helped Brown get the managers job at Derby County. That Shearer turned Ferguson down twice as a player, that another of Fergie’s mates, Sam Allardyce, also Phil Browns mentor, was crudely booted out by Newcastle United. Add in to that the derision that Manchester United fans have towards Newcastle and Shearer’s media friends are having a field day.
All this seems to miss out the fact that Newcastle will still have to get something out of Sunday’s game, have won 2 games in 19 and only taken 12 points this year. After beating Middlesbrough last week, they returned to form by losing to Fulham, who are 7th. Some fans were disgusted they could have lost to Fulham, but I suggest they look at the league table.You’ve won two home games in 6 months Newcastle, so how they thought they’ve beat high flying Fulham is beyond me. Yet they travel to Aston Villa, a side managed by one of Alan’s buddies, who are dreadful form themselves. Will Shearer be complaining if Villa field a weakened side? Of course he won’t but his supporters in the media will overlook that fact.
By beginning to make excuses already, Shearer is perhaps readying the fans for Sunday and the underlying fact that relegation is 90 minutes away. A win on the road is something Newcastle can just about remember, but they’ve only done it twice this season, at Portsmouth and at West Bromwich. Forget the conspiracy theories, this is a side who have only beaten the two teams below them this year.
A side that goes into Sunday’s game with 3 defenders, a club with only one left back who’s injured, with no players who’s contracts includes terms for wage reductions if they’re relegated, a side with a midfielder so dislikable even his reflection looks away.With no real sell-able playing assets, no bright youth system and the transfer kitty looking empty already, relegation could destroy Newcastle United.
The fact of the matter is, it doesn’t matter who plays in the last game of the season, it’s how you’ve done over 38 games, not the last one. Newcastle may yet stay up, but if they don’t, it’s because they’ve not been good enough over the whole season and not Sundays final 90 minutes.