Newcastle are on the brink, and crazily, the one guy they seem to collectively hate the most has been thrust into a situation where he could ultimately decide their fate. Here's Jack Pierce's preview of Alan Pardew's return to Tyneside for a relegation decider.
I thought it was all going to get better for Newcastle fans after the evil messiah, Alan Pardew, left the club.
The fans were adamant!
It's not quite worked out like that though, has it?
19th with three games to go; Newcastle are in big, big trouble with relegation to the second tier almost certain unless they can mount one of the most fantastic salvaging of a season the Premier League has seen.
Having ushered John Carver out the door with a £50 Sports Direct gift voucher after his disastrous spell in charge after Pardew left for South London, the club appointed Steve McClaren. Not only was the wannabe Dutchman (see YouTube) appointed for duties in the dugout, he was also appointed to the club's board in a bid to cement his role within the club.
It was a bloody disaster. The manner in which they sacked him in March would suggest such cementing was not successful at all.
The Toon Army's form under McClaren was pitiful and they barely got going all season. Defeat against Bournemouth proved the last straw and during the subsequent week, Newcastle and McClaren played out a very public break up.
There was the obligatory thankful statement from the club but in essence they'd spent the week chatting Rafa Benitez up and once the man who'd started the season managing Bale, Benzema and Cristiano had decided he was satisfied in managing Dummett, Anita and Tiote, McClaren's fate was sealed and he was gone.
Initially it seemed as though Benitez wasn’t going to have any impact upon Newcastle’s bid to stay up; one point from his first four games didn’t create too much enthusiasm and their display at Southampton was definitely cause for concern. They were dreadful and lucky to get nil while Southampton put away just three of their numerous chances.
Fast forward a fortnight and five points from three games, including fixtures against Manchester City and Liverpool and Newcastle are just a point from safety. To add more to their efforts in staying up, that last safe place of 17th is currently held by Sunderland who you might have heard aren’t the best of friends with Newcastle.
Benitez’s side have three games left and our lot, Aston Villa and a Spurs team likely to left without anything to play for other than pride, provide Newcastle with three oppositions that Newcastle players and fans should fancy their chances with. Given the euphoria of last week’s semi final victory, we’re either going to be absolutely superb or desperately poor and in view of Newcastle’s need to win, we’ll have to be up for a fight if we want anything out of the game.
As for Villa… well, if they can’t beat Villa with such stakes on the table, they deserve relegation. It’s as simple as that.
And there’s the possible shootout with Spurs on the final day of the season at St James’ Park. After Spurs’ 1-1 draw with West Brom on Monday, Leicester are just one win from the title and it could all be done with by Sunday afternoon. How much of an opposition might a Spurs side with their wind well and truly taken out of their sails be?
It might not look fantastic for Newcastle at the moment but draws against City and Liverpool have at least left them with something to fight for with three games to go.
With Pardew and Yohan Cabaye returning to the North East for the first time as opposition manager and player, there may well be some booing though not half as much as there will be should Palace walk away with three points and put a huge dent in Newcastle’s chances of Premier League football being played at St James’ Park next season.
Howay the Pards!