Newcastle United: Too Good To Go Down? Don't Make Me Laugh!
As the Premier League season draws to a close, fans of Newcastle United are having to come to terms with the very real possibility, and probability, of relegation from the top division.
You get the feeling that, until recently, people thought that they would, somehow, get out of the mire, simply because they were Newcastle. They are a big team. Too big to go down.
I was among those who thought that, until today's game against Liverpool. I was there at Anfield, and what I saw surprised me.
People tend to think that Newcastle are too good to go down. When you look at the individuals in the team, its hard to argue. Michael Owen, once the brightest prospect in European football, Obafemi Martins, another player who was touted as a future world beater, along with Alan Smith and even Damien Duff.
However, until you actually see them play live, it is hard to comprehend just how bad they are.
The likes of Mark Viduka, Owen, Martins, Duff, Smith, Nicky Butt, and Joey Barton may be solid Premier League players, but they have all fallen from grace at Newcastle. Individually, they are talented, but together they are useless.
The defending for all three goals was poor. The first was offside, but there wasn't a defender anywhere near Yossi Benayoun, while Dirk Kuyt and Lucas Leiva had free headers to extend the lead.
The final score was 3-0, but it could well have been six or seven. Harper made a few very good saves, while the underside of the crossbar saved the Magpies another three times.
No doubt, if Fernando Torres was playing, it would have been more. With Sebastien Bassong letting every long ball bounce before dealing with it, Torres would have capitalised on the errors and been through on goal a number of times.
It was just like a training session for Liverpool. Newcastle didn't create anything, and their day went from bad to worse when Joey Barton got a red card for a rash challenge on Xabi Alonso.
For the record, I felt sorry for Barton. Whenever he tries to get back to playing football, negative headlines are never far away. People will say that he brings it on himself, but I'm not sure his tackle today warranted a red card.
Of course, when I saw it live, there was no doubt he deserved it. After seeing a replay, however, I think a yellow card would have sufficed.
I think Barton is a passionate player, but his reputation precedes him, and every time he puts in a hard tackle, there is uproar about how he is a "thug" and should be in prison and not playing football.
By no means am I excusing what he has done in the past, but I think his play on the pitch is not "thuggish" but passionate, rather like that of Wayne Rooney. In fact, he seemed to be one of the only Newcastle players who cared about the game today.
Overall, from what I saw, Liverpool are good enough to win the title, if not this season then next, and Newcastle are definitely not too good to go down!
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