Benitez faces uphill battle to save struggling Newcastle
Newcastle United slumped to a ninth straight away defeat in the Premier League to leave themselves six points from safety with just six games remaining. A 3-1 capitulation at the hands of Southampton at St Mary’s now means that Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez faces an enormous task to keep his side in the top flight come the end of the season. The Spaniard who only took over a matter of weeks ago, must now prepare his side for a must win fixture against the now seemingly safe from relegation Swansea City. Having spent big in the January transfer window, with the likes of Jonjo Shelvey and Andros Townsend heading to St James’ Park, Newcastle’s gamble has certainly yet to show signs of paying off.
After their latest defeat, Benitez has questioned the commitment and passion of his players, and has now promised changed to his side for remaining fixtures. Despite Newcastle taking confidence from the fact that four of their last six matches will be at home, the arrival of Manchester City, Crystal Palace and Tottenham will hardly install confidence into the supporters on Tyneside. With North East rivals Sunderland finding themselves in a similar predicament after their latest defeat to Premier League leaders Leicester City, it has now reached desperation for both sides as they somehow look to catch Norwich City who currently lie in seventeenth. With changes seeming unlikely, but certainly possible, a last minute bet on decisive league positions could well prove to fruitful in what has been an unpredictable season. With odds of 1/12 on to face relegation come the end of the campaign, bookmakers Coral certainly do not hold much hope for Benitez’s men.
The former Liverpool and Real Madrid manager is refusing to throw in the towel however, insisting that four wins from their final six outings will be enough to ensure survival. Searching for their first win in seven this weekend, Newcastle are the 11/8 favourites to claim a vital three points at home to Swansea. With Norwich and Sunderland facing off against each other in Saturday’s early kick off, Newcastle will know the a defeat would almost certainly cement their place in the bottom three. Premier League bets have certainly been unpredictable over recent weeks, and with the season now reaching a climax, there is still plenty to be finalised at both ends of the table.
Benitez himself is thought to have inserted a clause in his contract meaning that he will be free to leave Newcastle should he be unable to rescue them from the threat of relegation.