Yesterday was a dark day for Newcastle United, as the Magpies were on the receiving end of a 6-0 hammering at home to a Luis Suarez-less Liverpool.
As good as Liverpool were Newcastle were equally poor.
Newcastle was awful at the back against the Reds. Every time the visitors attacked their north east hosts they looked likely to score.
The likes of Daniel Sturridge, Philippe Coutinho and even Jordan Henderson looked dangerous all afternoon.
The gap between the Newcastle defence and midfield was terrifying. The midfield looked disjointed, and Liverpool seemed to punish the Magpies at nearly every opportunity.
Apparently, the Magpies are underachieving this season. I believe they are only underachieving compared to last season’s superb fifth place finish. In truth last season’s performance was a complete one-off.
This season is closer to the mark of the real Newcastle squad, although the Toon should probably be closer to midtable than the relegation zone. Newcastle does have some quality players, but they have failed to produce the same level of performance as last season, for one reason or another.
The Newcastle board were complacent during the summer. They failed to strengthen the squad and it was not until January that they decided to bring in reinforcements, when it became obvious that they were struggling.
Alan Pardew is a manager that has always had a confidence in his own managerial ability, sometimes mis-placed at times. He has never struck me as the greatest manager and last season was a complete shock to me.
I could not believe that Alan Pardew managed to guide a team to fifth place in the top flight. He may think that he can walk on water sometimes. However, it seems more like he is drowning.
Since the former-West Ham boss signed his new eight-year contract Newcastle’s performance has dropped. It may just be a coincidence, or it may be that Pardew is indulging in a spot of complacency of his own.
Pardew is safe in the knowledge that he does have such a long-term deal. Contracts tend to mean little in football these days, but a pay-off for a manager with such a long contract will be a big one. The Newcastle board have put themselves in a difficult situation giving Pardew such a long deal.
One of the reasons that Newcastle have struggled this season is the horrendous amount of injuries they have had. Newcastle does not have a squad capable of remaining competitive when they have a few injuries.
Newcastle had success by recruiting players from Ligue One in recent seasons. The likes of Hatem Ben Arfa and Yohan Cabaye were two Newcastle’s top players last season. Newcastle’s recruitment policy was praised by all and sundry.
The Magpies decided to take the same route in January, after raiding French football last summer for full-back Mathieu Debuchy. Moussa Sissoko, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Massadio Haidara and Yoan Gouffran arrived in the January transfer window.
The signings seemed to give Newcastle fresh impetus. Sissoko and Gouffran made bright starts to their careers on Tyneside. However, their performance levels have dipped in recent games.
Apart from Sissoko, I do not think the other signings have proved themselves good enough for the Premier League and young full-back Haidara had an absolute nightmare in yesterday’s game against the Reds.
Confidence must now be shattered at Newcastle, after two consecutive heavy home defeats. It will be difficult for Newcastle to raise themselves in the remaining three games of the season. Their next two games are away in London against West Ham and QPR, with a home game against Arsenal at St James in their last game of the season.
One thing that may help the Magpies is the fact that West Ham and QPR now have little riding on those games. They may be more relaxed, than a team looking for a Champions League spot or scraping for their lives.
Although the Magpies are not the team of last season, I did not think they would be in this position at this point of the campaign. The bottom of the table is very tight and Newcastle are not quite safe just yet.
I do however believe that they will get out of it somehow. They may only get out of it because the teams around them cannot get the points they need though. If Newcastle does survive the drop then they will have to improve next season if they are to be competitive and not disappoint their fans for another season.
Will Newcastle survive the drop this season?