ONSIDE: Damage limitation is name of Newcastle United’s game

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ONCE upon a time there was one guaranteed consolation for your long-suffering football fan.

No matter how bad your team were faring, Manchester City would be doing worse.

Looking for a team to miss a last-minute penalty to avoid European qualification? City were your man.

Need a side to successfully play out a draw when only a win will keep them in the Premier League?

Yes, you’ve guessed it, Manchester’s second club would happily oblige.

And then it all changed.

Bankrolled from the Middle East, City have torn up the script and started winning trophies.

Now there are only Leeds United and Sheffield Wednesday of similar stature to titter at.

And even they have both won a trophy in the last 20 years or so.

Thankfully there is still the odd City own goal along the way.

Take Newcastle’s visit there last season in what was remarkably a top of the table clash.

City’s programme helpfully listed cup fixtures for the rest of the season.

The Carling Cup, as it was then known, was there, ditto the FA Cup and also the Champions League knock-out round dates.

No mention of the Europa League, however, which is where City ended up after they were eliminated from the Champions League at the group stage.

Not that they need the Europa League fixtures this season after exiting Europe full stop before Christmas.

That little rant over, it has to be accepted that Newcastle are in need of a City own goal on the pitch when the two sides meet at St James’s Park tomorrow.

Last November’s 3-1 defeat at the Ethiad Stadium was the Magpies’ first of the season.

Tomorrow’s encounter is likely to result in their eighth reverse of this term.

Damage limitation seems to be the only name of Newcastle’s game.

Keep the goal difference down and the players fit for next Saturday’s relegation six-pointer with ’Arry Redknapp’s Queens Park Rangers.

– GAVIN LEDWITH