Alan Shearer has shared just how ‘worried’ he is about the current situation at Newcastle United – urging Mike Ashley to sell before things get worse and criticising Rafa Benitez’s decision to play a much-changed side on Saturday.
Shearer knows first hand how little Ashley is concerned with cup runs and is clearly frustrated the current side are nowhere near close to replicating the back to back Wembley appearances Shearer took part in 1998 and 1999.
During his column for The Sun, here’s what he had to say about the current ‘negativity’ around the club, saying it’s ‘pretty scary’ that things are only going to get worse unless Ashley leaves – urging him to sell before we’re relegated and Rafa walks:
‘There is so much negativity around but that comes from the very, very top. The life is being sucked out of the football club.
I went to Liverpool on Boxing Day to see Newcastle walloped 4-0, I was at their defeat to Manchester United last Wednesday and I was at the game on Saturday.
And what’s clear is that the club is only going to get worse unless there is a takeover. That in itself is pretty scary.
I am very worried about the club’s chances of staying up because of that negativity, lack of confidence and belief.
Newcastle just have to hope there are three worse teams than them. I think one will be Huddersfield. I just can’t see them getting out of it. And then it’s two from Fulham, Southampton, Cardiff, Burnley and Newcastle.
Rafa was criticised recently for saying Newcastle needed a “miracle” to stay up.
But it is very difficult to believe what managers say at this time of year because they are trying to send out a message.
Rafa was trying to tell people how it is and at the same time send a message to the owner that he desperately needs players in.
But anyway, his comments are not too different to what I said at the start of the season — that Newcastle would be in a relegation battle.
And that is a pretty sad indictment of where Newcastle are considering where they have been.
If Mike Ashley is still the owner in May, then Rafa will be off. He is not coming back. Why would he?
He, like all fans, desperately wants a takeover to happen so he can at least try and achieve something at Newcastle.
The sooner it is sold, the better it will be for the whole football club.’
Shearer paints a bleak but very accurate picture of life as a Newcastle fan at the moment; to be left praying there are three worse teams is just not good enough. Rafa has not been given the tools to do the job and the penny pinching has caught up with Mike Ashley and the fans are sick of it.
Shearer then had the following to say about Saturday’s FA Cup tie with Blackburn, suggesting that Rafa may have made a mistake playing a much-changed side in a game where a win could’ve done us the world of good:
‘Newcastle’s performance against Blackburn pretty much summed up what the club is at the moment — flat and lifeless.
There were 36,440 at St James’ Park this weekend, which is a decent crowd considering everything that is going on there.
And those fans were waiting to be entertained — but Newcastle gave them absolutely nothing.
It is hard to remember such a flat and poor display and the Toon were fortunate to get a replay.
Based on Saturday’s game, you would never have been able to say which team was from the Premier League and which was from the Championship.
But when you make eight changes to your side like Rafa Benitez did, you always run that risk. It just upsets the whole rhythm.
Half of the players brought in have the hump because they believe they should be playing every week. And the other half want to go out and try and impress but those that are not at it are stopping them.
I don’t mind one or two changes but eight changes just stinks of, ‘Well, we don’t really want to be in this’.
I know Rafa is battling against it at the moment and his priority is the Premier League. But couldn’t a Cup run be a priority as well?
Newcastle’s FA Cup record has been pathetic over the last few years. They have not made it past the fourth round in 13 years and that’s embarrassing.
Fans are desperate for a trip to Wembley because what else have they got to look forward to? Nothing.
But if the team is not interested in a Cup run, what is the point in those supporters turning up. Rafa’s team selection backfired because he has now got the last thing he wanted — a replay.
But if you are going to put that sort of side out, be prepared for another game. He’s got that now a week tomorrow at Ewood Park and he cannot complain.
Newcastle really needed to beat Blackburn on Saturday to try and gain some confidence. Because right now, there is no belief that they can get a result at home.’
Shearer is again spot on here, Rafa is the best thing about the club at the moment but not playing a stronger side didn’t make sense. Our next game is not for another full week and it’s away at Chelsea anyway. We needed to get some confidence and momentum going but that result has made things even worse.
You could argue the side put out should still have had enough to beat a Championship side at home but why take the risk? Play the best XI and get a win before having a full week of rest. Now, we have another replay where a similarly weakened side is likely to be put out and I don’t think any Newcastle fan will be shocked if are out the cup early, again.