ARE THE WHEELS FALLING OFF AT NEWCASTLE?
While although Newcastle picked up a point at home against Wolves recently, manager Steve Bruce will have taken umbrage at the fact it was not three and it was this air of displeasure, that has seemingly sparked a rather toxic turn of events.
With Bruce bemoaning his luck in the post-match interviews, he referenced Matt Ritchie and his failure to pass some important information to his teammates and because of this lack of assistance, the former Manchester United defender blamed the Scottish international for two dropped points.
Two points that could be incredibly important when you consider Newcastle’s downturn in momentum at present and although they are keeping their heads off above water for now, there is a sense that they cannot swim against the tide forever.
While such was the ire that was generated by Bruce’s post-match comments, it led Ritchie himself to call out the manager and with a blazing row then ensuing, it seems that all is not well within the confines of St James’ Park.
Not only did the former Bournemouth player come in for criticism, but the Newcastle manager also placed Joelinton, Jamal Lewis and Martin Dubravka in the line of fire – although in fairness, were it not for the latter’s late save, Wolves would have snatched a victory from the jaws of a draw.
It now seems, that there has been an element of kiss and make up with the Magpies’ camp, although there is always a danger that a certain party or even parties, may harbour a more private feeling of resentment.
Which is something that Newcastle can ill afford to possess at present and when you consider that their treatment room is filling up by the week, they need whatever players are still fit, to all be singing from the same hymn sheet.
Because after the injury to Callum Wilson, things have only got worse and with both Miguel Almiron and Allan Saint-Maximin now also out until next month, it means the Tyneside outfit are without their three main attacking components.
Something that could prove to be Newcastle’s ultimate undoing in all of this and although the trio will return with a handful of this season’s Premier League matches remaining, there is a worrying feeling that the damage may have already been done.
For now, the objective is to simply stay out of the relegation zone and perhaps more importantly, make sure they keep at least four points between themselves and Fulham in 18th, as if they get to that magic number it removes an incredible amount of final day pressure.
Because you could not script this any better, as with Fulham playing host to Newcastle and the prospect of Cottagers fans roaring them on, there is every chance this could be a de-facto relegation play-off.
One that on the comparison of current form, you would almost bet your house on Scott Parker’s men doing the business and Newcastle fans will be hoping if not praying, that their team are not sucked into some agonising relegation drama.