Monday 18 November 2019

Magpies endure groundhog day on another afternoon of misery

Newcastle 1-3 Tottenham

Spurs striker Harry Kane celebrates after beating Newcastle
Spurs striker Harry Kane celebrates after beating Newcastle

Martin Hardy

By the time Harry Kane had finished the celebration that followed his 20th Premier League goal of the season, one that had pushed Tottenham back up into sixth place, St James' Park was once more empty, bar the celebrating away fans.

That has been the theme for the last three miserable campaigns. There is a natural generosity to the spirit of most Geordies, but it has been taken to an extreme. In that time Newcastle have lost 23 times at home in the league. Yes, 23 times in just under three seasons.

They are back on the cusp of a relegation fight once more, for the third time since Mike Ashley took over the club.

As has been the case for the vast majority of his eight-year tenure, yesterday was as much about what was happening off the pitch as on it.

In the shadow of the Gallowgate End, near the former city gallows, stood the condemned men and women, around 500 of them, who refused to enter the stadium to watch their team play. Some of them had season tickets they had paid for.

Inside the ground were vast sections of empty seats - including that of the owner - a visible sign of the unrest in the region.

The official attendance (which includes the season-ticket holders who did not attend) was given as 47,427. In reality it was probably nearer to the 40,000 mark. Those pushing the protest, through the website, will use the Freedom of Information Act to find out the true number. That is what Newcastle United have become.

The anger and the apathy - and there is a toxic mixture of both - will not cause too much consternation for those in control at Newcastle, but you cannot imagine television companies rushing to book many of their future games.

It is a club without stardust or direction; the half-hearted nature of much of the home side's play, especially in the second half, the lack of atmosphere and the pre-season friendly feel do not make great television.

For the second time in the history of the Premier League, they lost a sixth successive game. It first happened last season, at the same dismal stage, when Alan Pardew was in the manager's seat.

Losing Pardew - and not enough has been made of why a manager would choose Crystal Palace over Newcastle - is not the reason for the demise. It runs much deeper than that, but it is the willingness to drift, to write off seasons, that is causing much consternation, along with the player sales and the lack of quality replacements.

Newcastle have won once in their last 10 games. They have scored five times in that run. They have picked up nine points from the 42 available since John Carver took over from Pardew. It is not even a limp to the finish line. There is no heart, and no great talent in the team.

For much of the second half Tottenham were in cruise control after Christian Eriksen's free-kick had restored their lead. It was a soft goal, but Newcastle are a soft team. (© Independent News Service)

Independent News Service

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