Mike Ashley and the major Newcastle United dilemma on his plate

Newcastle United's English owner Mike Ashley.(Photo by Lindsey PARNABY/AFP)
Newcastle United's English owner Mike Ashley.(Photo by Lindsey PARNABY/AFP) /

What on earth is going on at Newcastle United? From the outside looking in, fans think they have the answer.

Newcastle United will be suiting up to play fellow mid-table side Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park in a few hours, but all the talk surrounding the Magpies is related to things behind the scenes. Slowly, but surely, Steve Bruce might be losing the dressing room.

We all know about the situation with Miguel Almiron and his desire to leave and play for a club that enjoys more possession of the ball. Joining him on the unhappy list is the most dynamic player in the squad, Allan Saint-Maximin.

When it comes to the exciting French winger, nothing official has come out of his camp or from the club, but sources close to Newcastle United claim that Bruce has contemplated dropping Saint-Maximin from the lineup.

Well, Saint-Maximin will not feature against Crystal Palace today due to a “hamstring injury” he picked up in training, but many fans are not buying that story.

Other examples of players noticeably underperforming include Fabian Schar, who used to be the first name on the team sheet under Rafa Benitez, and Jamaal Lascelles, who is going through the motions of a captain, but is finding it difficult to confidently vouch for Bruce’s instructions on the pitch.

It did not take long for Joelinton to earn the “flop” label last season, but a major reason for that is Bruce’s inability to quickly realize that the Brazilian cannot lead the front line, and is instead much more effective in a supporting role in the wide areas.

All in all, the writing is on the wall. Bruce is losing the support of his players and Mike Ashley needs to make a major decision before it is too late. The business tycoon needs to decide if he will back the players, or if he will continue to stand by Bruce.

Recent reports claimed that Bruce has the full backing of the front office despite all the criticism thrown his way by fans on social media. However, a part of me does not buy that either as Ashley would not put his £300m valuation of the club at risk if Championship football next season becomes real possibility.

Now that the players seem to be out of sync, unmotivated, and simply roam around the pitch, Ashley needs to be quick on his feet and potentially make a call that could save the season.

The only thing truly keeping the Magpies out of the bottom three is luck, as well as the fact that the current bottom three are just terrible.

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Make no mistake about it, though, as other teams are progressing and altering their style of play to remain competitive in the top flight, Newcastle United are going in reverse and they will be relegation favorites next term if they stay on this path.