SO two home defeats in a row have led to rumblings of a crisis at Newcastle United.
I would rather look upon it as manager Alan Pardew becoming a victim of his own success.
Had he not somehow piloted the Magpies to fifth last season then their current position of 12th would be widely deemed acceptable.
Nor is the situation likely to get better in the immediate future.
Taking an injury-hit squad to newly-promoted Southampton this weekend has all the ingredients of last December’s 4-2 demise at Norwich.
Cue Ricky Lambert in the Grant Holt role as the journeyman centre forward who bundles Newcastle’s goalie, defenders and ball into the net simultaneously.
So that’s another Premier League game without that elusive second clean sheet of the season.
Hopefully Pardew’s team can at least tick one box beforehand by qualifying for the knock-out stages of the Europa League on Thursday night.
Even a scratch Toon side should be able to defeat Portuguese minnows Maritimo at St James’s Park.
With any luck Club Brugge will also beat Bordeaux at home to leave Newcastle as group champions with a game to play.
That would mean the Magpies could rest even more first teamers for next month’s finale in France and concentrate instead on getting back into the top half of the Premier League.
Sounds easy doesn’t it?
Following Newcastle, however, is usually anything but.
Expect a nervous night at St James’s with a flurry of A-listers launched from the subs’ bench to mount a late salvage operation.
Should still be more exciting than watching West Ham versus Stoke City on television on a Monday night.
There were so many high balls that I went upstairs to watch where they were going from our landing.
– GAVIN LEDWITH