After a momentary, few days of positivity and hope, Newcastle came crashing back down to the floor after a home loss to Crystal Palace.
The game wasn’t completely awful and the first half (despite the two goals against us) showed the urgency and press that we have been calling fall all throughout Bruce’s tenure.
However, as much as an improvement as the match was to the awfulness we’ve had to endure for so long now, a loss is a loss.
Crystal Palace at home is really a game that we should be winning, and it scares me that we have now dropped the ball to teams such as Palace, Leeds, Villa, Sheffield United and Fulham because they are the teams that we should be capable of beating. If you consistently drop points to teams like this, then you are seriously flirting with relegation.
Today we have Southampton at home and the importance of this game cannot be underestimated.
Bruce was quick to point out their good form as the reason for our loss to them in November, so he surely needs to be aware of how bad their form has been in recent games. They are a battered team currently, with numerous players out through injury or suspension and have just come away from losing 9-0 for the second time in Hasenhüttl’s tenure. We need to press them and we need to scare them because they are a damaged team right now.
Last time that Southampton lost 9-0 (to Leicester), they then played away to Manchester City and lost 2-1. The dangerous thing to recognise here, is that Southampton were the first ones to strike in the 13th minute.
Now, Manchester City are obviously a much better team than Newcastle so they would have the skill and patience required to turn around an early deficit but I fear that we could find ourselves in a similar position and then see another disappointing display to try and get back in it.
Southampton will be desperate to prove themselves and, quite frankly, they have a very good opportunity to do so against us.
We have to be fiercer than them and we have to be attacking, otherwise hope for us being in the Premier League next season is dimming.
After Southampton, we have Chelsea and Manchester United away. It’s very hard to see how we could be picking up anything from those games and it may just be that we find ourselves on the brink by the time we come across a run of must-win games.
I don’t think Bruce has ever managed to string three Premier League wins together, he certainly hasn’t been able to with us. So, in a run of four games where we should have a fair chance of winning, you can only really expect 10 points to be the maximum available to us, and we all know that we’ll struggle to reach that.
Being brutally honest, I expect us to lose today.
If that were to happen, then it is vitally important that Bruce lose his new job quickly so that another manager can establish themselves within two games that we’re expected to lose (and maybe not lose with a new manager bounce) and go into a run which would look much more favourable to someone who doesn’t panic and throw every attacker they have on when we’re losing.