Newcastle United are precariously placed, they're sitting just above the drop zone and in serious danger of relegation. One thing the fans know is that they aren't too good to go down. Scarily, it mirrors 2008/2009 in which the toon sadly dropped from the top tier.
Travel forward in time to 2013 and it's been a disastrous season for Newcastle. They've played more games then they have points and the injury list is horrendous. The facts are scary, St James isn't the fortress of last season and the away bus must be cursed. Even I must confess that it isn't Mike Williamson's fault. A manager must do the best with what he has at his disposal, he hasn't outsmarted any opposing managers and hasn't replicated what won him the manager of the year award last season. His tactics have been appalling to the extent of lazy. He's experimented with 4-2-3-1 lately and it hasn't worked, we showed fight vs Manchester United and Arsenal but were defensively hapless. Naively, he has placed Cisse on the wing and bizarrely Shola Ameobi who's famous for beating his man at the byline. Even before Demba Ba was sold, he failed to find the right formula, choosing to play 4-4-2 instead of the 4-3-3 formation which served Newcastle so well in the second half of last season. I still wasn't worried, until yesterday.
Yesterday, we surrendered a lead against Reading who until yesterday had the joint worst away record in the premier league alongside Newcastle. Don't get me wrong, Newcastle played very well in the first half, knocking the ball around confidently, finding space and looking dangerous offensively. If it wasn't for the heroics of Federici we would of been 3 goals to the good. But Pardew's team talk was hardly inspiring with Newcastle looking lacklustre and seemingly determined to let Reading back into the game. We were still in control until Pardew made a bizarre substitution, taking the creative Marveaux off and replacing him with a defensive midfielder James Perch. I couldn't believe what I was seeing, we were sitting back on a 1 goal lead against Reading! Pardew's counterpart Brian McDermott took advantage of this bringing on the poacher Adam Le Fondre in the hope he'd grab an equaliser. BOOM. 1-1 within seconds. The scorer? Adam Le Fondre; super sub. Fair play McDermott. If the Newcastle fans thought the Marveaux sub was bizarre his next one was worse. Gael Bigirimana for Yohan Cabaye. Another defensive midfielder. 3 defensive midfielders on the pitch, taking our only 2 creative players off the pitch. I booed and in my opinion i had every right to. Pardew's justification for his substitutions were pathetic, claiming both were injured, Cabaye had attempted an overheard kick 30 seconds earlier, a clear sign of an injured player. Le fondre then scored again breaking geordie hearts. How did Jonas and Shola play 90 minutes?
It was a must win game. If we won, we may of had the confidence to push on and go on a run of form. Instead we face a difficult trip to Villa knowing defeat is disastrous. Ashley needs a central defender and another striker. Get them in and we may have a chance. More injuries is suicidal.
Ashley faces another challenge. Whether or not to relieve Pardew from his duties or stick by his man. The 8 year contract was to install confidence and stability and so far the only positive has been Henry Winter swimming the Tyne for charity. I have defended Pardew a lot recently but yesterday was a wake up call and I'm scared at the thought of relegation again. How can we go from being champions league contenders to being favourites for the drop? Ashley please put your foot down, be decisive, take action and keep us afloat. We don't want to sink, not again.