The problem with Newcastle United isn’t that they have a rookie manager, or that he has an assistant with a failed top-flight managerial record…
It’s not that the current boss is the fourth the club have employed this season, and nor is it the fact his future lies elsewhere in four matches’ time.
It’s not that they lie three points adrift of safety with the prospect of playing Liverpool away in the next game, and nor is it their heavy reliance on home wins to save them when they haven’t won at home since before Christmas.
It’s not that their teamsheet reads like a Who’s Who of player’s that could cut it in the Premier League five years ago, but can’t anymore, and it’s not that they appear so off the pace that “must-win” home games against fellow strugglers leave them grateful for a point come the final whistle.
It’s not the weight of pressure from a fanatical but impatient fanbase and it’s not its insistence that the team always plays with flair even when a more pragmatic approach may be more sensible.
It’s not that the owner has lost the confidence of the fans, and it’s not the cumbersome management structure he’s put in place.
It’s not his decision to sack the perfectly capable manager appointed by his predecessor and it’s not the debts he inherited from the previous regime.
It’s not that the success the club enjoyed in the past was never quite good enough, and it’s not that they overstretched themselves while reaching for a little bit more.
It’s not any one thing, at all, actually – it’s all of the above, and more.
If last night’s goalless draw against Portsmouth taught us anything it’s that terms such as “too big to go down” ring ridiculously hollow when applying them to Newcastle United right now.
They may yet haul themselves out of danger, but their problems appear so deep rooted that they are beginning to appear incapable of saving themselves from dropping into the Championship when only five years ago they were competing in the Champions League.
Their plight should serve as a warning to today’s big clubs racking up huge debt and relying on benefactors while chasing short-term dreams.
Surely, though, five years from now, none of Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool or Manchester United will be held accountable for their overspending of today, will they?
Surely they’ll always be “too big to go down”.
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