It is undoubtedly fair to say that Newcastle United’s start to the season has been nothing short of shambolic. Other than a reasonable home performance against Southampton, a good away point at Old Trafford and 70 minutes of good play against the champions, we have been dreadful. The 6-1 humping we took from Man City – made all the worse given how well we played in the first half – left us with 3 points from 8 games and languishing bottom of the league on goal difference. Our next three games see us entertain both Norwich and Stoke at home with the small matter of a Wear-Tyne derby sandwiched in the middle of those two fixtures. While it is far too early to be talking about “must win” games, if we were to fail to pick up a 3 point haul from any of the next 3 games, we could be in a precarious situation.
Norwich City have been playing some free-flowing attacking football under young manager Alex Neil and have already gained a number of early admirers. Despite being quite poor at the back, they do go on the attack and are good for a goal or two. As a newly promoted club, they are surely going to be fighting the drop this season themselves so beating them at home is obviously essential. The derby follows the weekend after, with Fat Sam seemingly determined to be roundly despised by Newcastle fans (after all, why else would he manage that lot?) This will provide an added incentive (in case losing the last 5 derbies wasn’t enough!) though we have typically done terribly against Sunderland managers who have recently taken over the Mackems so I wouldn’t be surprised if Sunderland made it 6 wins in a row. The following weekend then sees us take on Stoke City at home – Stoke have long since established themselves as a team now beyond our current level now being a top 10 side in recent seasons. Despite a sluggish start to the season themselves, they have signed a few good players – Xherdan Shaquiri namely – and Marco Arnautovic is looking a very good player in recent games.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I think it’s essential that we take at least 4 points, hopefully 6, and ideally all 9 from our next 3 games to dispel early season relegation concerns and get our season up and running. Looking at other teams in the league, I do think there are at least 3 sides who are worse than us, despite the fact that we’re bottom – those being Sunderland, Aston Villa and West Brom (with Bournemouth, Watford and Norwich relatively untested in the league, being potentially in the fight later in the season) so I don’t actually think that we will be relegated this season .That being said, the longer we go without picking up some points and a winning mentality and momentum, the more anxiety is going to build on Tyneside.
If we were to lose 2, or god forbid all 3 games, then serious questions are going to have to be asked of Newcastle’s ability to stay in the league.