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A Game Neither Newcastle United Or Middlesbrough Can Afford To Lose

When the fixture list was released back in June 2008, no doubt the fans of both Newcastle and Middlesbrough hadn’t a thought that they’d be facing a six pointer to try and save their Premiership survival with today’s clash.  Yet here they are, staring down the barrel of relegation with West Bromich coming up close behind and it would seem a choice between any three from 5 clubs.

Defeat tonight for either side could condemn them to relegation with the only hope of Sunderland and Hull City’s continual free fall to even give them a glimmer of hope for staying up. Hull City, West Brom and Sunderland will be hoping for a draw, both the Boro and the Magpies will be desperate for a win. The form book shows that between them, they’ve gathered 6 points between them in their last 6 games, 4 for Boro and 2 for Newcastle. In a nutshell, both sides are showing relegation form and a win for either side seems a bridge too far.

A draw would seem to be the obvious result, but wouldn’t benefit either side. Newcastle’s remaining games are against Fulham, chasing European competition, at home and then an away trip to another side in dreadful form, Aston Villa. Middlesbrough have Aston Villa at home, then travel to West Ham United who have hit a blip at the wrong time both on and off the field.

Honestly though, if I had to hang my hat on either side getting anything tonight, you’d have to fancy Middlesbrough. Sure they’ve been bad this season, but they’ve had a fair run of bad luck and haven’t really got the results that some of their performances deserved. Newcastle have been simply awful all season, a side bereft of fight, tactics and performances and don’t look like they’d be able to beat an egg at the moment. If Newcastle go down, they’ll not return to the Premiership for a long time, Boro at least have some assets that they can cash in on to try and regenerate the side for a promotion push. Let’s not forget that Newcastle United do not have any player on a contract reduction clause and their biggest playing assets are all out of contract in the Summer. Leeds United part two beckons for the Geordies if they fall through the trap door.

This is clearly the biggest Tyne-Tees derby in almost 20 years, but financially, this is the biggest derby in both clubs history. The pressure and the fear that the league table shows the players every time they see it will be playing on every single players nerves, making sick to the pit of their stomach. Those kind of nerves can destroy even the best of players.  Newcastle United players will be hoping the club haven’t given them any free flags, after the curse of the flags in last weeks Champions League Semi-Finals.

The Geordie and Boro fans are both sounding downbeat about their chances of winning tonight, though thankfully certain Newcastle fans who keep claiming the Premier League needs Newcastle United in it seem to have got quieter and quieter as the realisation of reality has finally sunk in. Both sides are full of overpaid, under performing players, but maybe tonight someone can finally give their long suffering fans some value for money probably in a red shirt.

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  1. Shalesey

    May 12, 2009 at 6:50 am

    Really enjoybale game from a neutral point of view.

    You can catch the highlights here ->

    I think the win will be good enough to see Newcastle stop up. The three currently down there look doomed.

  2. Bruce Gottesman

    May 11, 2009 at 9:45 pm

    Man, has it been a long time since Newcastle have won at home. How long? How about mid-December (the 21st). As was the case today, a late sub entered and won the game a minute later. Kinnear called on Damian Duff in the 88th minute, who almost immediately converted a gorgeous back-heel pass from Viduka. Sure he’s pretty slow at this point of his career, but Newcastle have missed a healthy Viduka these past 4+ months.
    The remaining schedule is very favorable to Newcastle considering the standings and goal differentials: Hull have Bolton away and Man U home; Boro have Villa home and West Ham away; West Brom have Liverpool home and Blackburn away. Newcastle are virtually safe with a win next week home against Fulham – no way Hull have 4 points left in them. Newcastle finish up at Villa, who have not been playing well lately.
    It’s not out of the question to think Hull might not get another point, which would mean unless Boro or West Brom can get 4 points from their last two, Newcastle could lose their last two and still stay up with a ridiculous total of 34 points.
    Nice quirk of the schedule that the only match remaining between sides that have any chance to be relegated is Portsmouth v. Sunderland…

  3. The Gaffer

    May 11, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    Boro are doomed. Not only because they lost their must-win game tonight, but also because of Gareth Southgate during his after-match press conference.

    The interviewer from Setanta Sports asked him a couple of times whether he thought Middlesbrough were going down.

    Southgate’s reply was “not yet.”

    Hardly a rousing response to a question. And it’s definitely not going to motivate his players to try harder.

    Reading between the lines, you could infer that by Southgate replying “not yet,” that it’s only a matter of time this season before the inevitable happens. I don’t think he realized what he was saying. It was a bit of his subliminal mind doing the talking.

    Understandly so, Southgate looks like he’s suffering from the pressure. This is not the man Boro needs to help keep them up. Unfortunately they’ve run of time this season.

    The Gaffer

  4. Thomas

    May 11, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    Newcastle have long been a team that has rated itself much higher than it actually is.

    I feel extremely bad for the supporters, who have continually been heartbroken, yet fill St. James Park.

    We’ve heard the “too good to go down” argument for many teams before. And I think people would have applied it to Newcastle earlier this year. But watching them play, you see a side that lacks cohesion, and plays completely uninspired football.

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