Newcastle see out this dreadful season with a home game against a Spurs side in, what might not be, Rafa Benitez’s last game. The Spaniard hinted in Friday’s press conference that he might well be in charge of The Magpies next season as they attempt to bounce back into England’s top flight at the first time of asking.
Benitez is seeking assurances from the Newcastle hierarchy that he can build a side good enough to make an instant return to the Premier League. But before we delve into dissecting this nightmare of a season and go into what needs to be done this summer to move the club forwards, there is still one game left to play. And for Spurs, at least, it could be a significant one. Should Newcastle win their final game of the season, they will have taken six points from a side who they could deny finishing second.
That just about sums up what a freakishly unpredictable league it has been this season. And for Newcastle fans, it proves just what a colossal failure this campaign has been. This is a side who, on their day, can mix it with just about any other side in the division. Yet here we are, on are way back to the nation’s second tier, facing the prospect of Burton Albion et al.
The game will see Newcastle fans watch several players play their final game in a black and white jersey they scarcely deserve to wear. Benitez could decide to bench a number of players who won’t be at St James’ Park next season in favour of some of the squad who will be part of the promotion campaign. Sissoko, Gini, Townsend, Tiote and Cisse will all probably be elsewhere come August but have been regular starters in the last few games which has seen United go unbeaten in five.
The majority of Newcastle’s promising youngsters are on loan but it might be a chance to give starts to Mbabu and Aarons who could prove to be important players next season should they stay on Tyneside.
It will be a strange on Sunday, as fans try their best to support a team who have let them down massively. The one common goal driving the St James’ Park faithful though will be trying to persuade Benitez to stay. If the Spaniard had taken charge a month earlier, Newcastle would be five or six places higher in the division looking forward to a much brighter future.
Rafa says he will decide in the next two weeks whether he will stay; tomorrow is the fan’s last chance to show him exactly why he should.