Sunday, April 19, 2009

Relegation looming for Newcastle

The dark road of relegation looms large for Newcastle as they lost 1-0 to Tottenham at White Hart Lane on Sunday afternoon. With another of the "must win" matches proving fruitless the Magpies hopes of survival grow weaker each week. At second from the table bottom, Newcastle will need roughly ten points in their remaining matches against Portsmouth, Liverpool, Middlesbrough, Fulham and Aston Villa.

The situation is quite different in north-London is in celebration as they near a berth in the Europa League. The turn of events has been extraordinary in the last six months with the Spurs as Juande Ramos devastated the side that Martin Jol built to the brink of relegation, only to be saved by Harry Redknapp. While Mr. Redknapp was ignored for the position he would have given his heart and soul to, Tottenham has profited from his work.

The start of the match provided little intrigue as both sides seemed overly cautious if not incapable. Newcastle's attacking vision was non-existent in the first forty-five minutes and left traveling supporters agonizing over the possible demise of their club. Six minutes before the half-hour Tottenham 'keeper (Heurelho) Gomes urged on Benoît Assou-Ekotto in a fast counter down the left flank. Quickly threading the ball to Luka Modrić trying to feed the ball through to Robbie Keane but dealt with poorly by Sébastien Bassong and straight to Darren Bent in the left side of the box. The England internationals first attempt was saved mightily by Steve Harper but the rebound was cut in from a tight angle to give the Spurs the one goal margin they would need.

Without a visible pulse, Allan Shearer called up Obafemi Martins and Mark Viduka to join Michael Owen in an attacking trident as Newcastle searched for the needed goal. Service from the midfield was still lacking and fortune just didn't seem to fall the Magpies way. A equalizing goal was called back for a handball, albeit a debatable call that many would have left and with seven minutes remaining Obafemi Martins courageous performance nearly concluded again with a goal but is close range effort went over the bar.

As three minutes of stoppage time clicked down in what seemed to take hours, Newcastle now faces the daunting task of somehow fighting for survival. The match can be summed up probably best with a notable effort but shy of quality. While blame for the clubs demise is ready to explode on the scene with many players in the drama being pointed to, Newcastle is in-fact a victim of worlds financial collapse and their ownership being unable to weather the storm. Foreboding by Kevin Keegan's resignation in the fall with the clubs inability to compete in the transfer season, the lack of interested purchasers and further evidenced by lack of movement in the January market, Newcastle's fall stems from poor finances. With five weeks remaining there is "hope" that the Magpies will not be remembered as one of the sports biggest victims of worlds financial collapse.