Ever since he took charge, and especially so as hope has dwindled, Alan Shearer has talked a first-rate game about what his team needed to do, indeed ought to do, to save themselves. And if only his starting XI could have performed in anything like the same spirit then Newcastle would have pulled themselves out of the hole they're in prior to today's final horror-show. Alas, it remains the case that Newcastle are one of the three worst teams in the top division over this season, and so deserve to go down however it plays out over 'Super Sunday'.
Bagging the extraordinary luck of a combination of results sufficient to squeak past Hull or Sunderland - both of whom beat NUFC on their own turf, and whom NUFC failed to beat at SJP - is in itself a fairly rancid karmic outcome, however avidly all Mags would seize upon it. But in any case NUFC go into this game without their two best, most consistent players, Beye and Bassong; with two strikers fettled and a third playing on one leg; and without a shred of pace or creativity in midfield. They go to 5th-placed Villa, a quality side, well-managed, keen to finish on a high. And you reckon NUFC are going to play their hearts out, defend like giants, nab one on the break and generally exhibit all the attributes missing ever since Keegan walked early last September? Gerraway, man. Sorrowfully I have to say I can't see how it's conceivable to imagine them doing anything of the sort.
So the crisis continues, rather than starting today, and only enormous structural remedies can begin to address it as of this summer. The ever-staunch NUFC.com have offered the following advice to fans as and when the axe has finally fallen this evening:
"Please do yourself and your club a favour and make sure the Sky cameras don't catch you snivelling into your scarf or blubbering into your best mate's shoulder. Show some dignity and don't bring this club into disrepute. We suggest you turn your back and make a hasty retreat for the exits. Once outside, walk straight past reporters and cameras in the streets and maintain your silence until you are well away from prying lenses."
Sounds like the sort of thing Shearer would say, if he accepted we were as far gone as everybody else believes. Not daft, though, our Alan. I trust he'll have his own dignified face prepared.
Howay the Lads! No shame in the Second Division, man, we've seen it all before, and the only way out of it is to play better.