Have Sands Shifted In Boro's Favour?
THE SHIFTING statistical sands of the struggle for survival have moved in Boro's favour once again. Hot on the heels of Sunderland and Hull helpfully opting to crash and burn, a demoralised Newcastle's failure to win against Portsmouth was a fantastic result.
Not just because it kept the Geordies firmly in the mire - but also because it has exposed the so called "Shearer factor" as a little more than a desperate and impotent PR stunt that has had negligible impact on what remains a poor and unbalanced team. He's not the Messiah. He's a very naughty boy. And his vanity - and poor judgement - in taking the poisoned chalice has just added another layer of dressing room confusion on what was already a dysfunctional club. That can only help Boro.
Any hopes of Mr Creosote being able to act as an alchemist and turn base metal into goals are now in tatters, and predictably so: the notion that a collection of crocks, cloggers and clowns were suddenly going to be miraculous transformed into Barcelona by the very presence of a deity was a collective delusion. It would be like Boro appointing Juninho and expecting Shawky to start doing back-heel nut-megs and stepovers.
Newcastle must now go to Liverpool before the do-or-die derby clash. Boro face a tough one too, there's no avoiding that. But in the one that matters the pressure will all be on Newcastle: they are the eighth biggest club in the world, too big to go down, a team the Premiership need and the media adore they face a loser-goes-down clash at home in front of an emotional fuelled crowd. And this team who haven't won at home all year will be led by a gaggle of conflicting coaches fronted by a Magpie mascot with no experience whatsoever who is starting to realise it is far harder from the dug-out than it is from the red settee.
Boro will go there as underdogs and with appalling away form but you would still rather go to one of the worst sides in the league needing something than go to Everton, or Bolton or Stoke. And if Boro needed any motivation it will be the possibility of making history, because whatever happens, this game is going down in folklore.
Win - and put the Geordies down - and then go on to escape and suddenly this season will be right up there with 1990's final day derby delight as a cultural highpoint. The mutually assured destruction of the draw will take them down in a suicidal embrace that will at least offer some silver lining for the gallows humourists and a derby next year.
Meanwhile the pressure has moved again. Just as last weekend Boro fans were backing West Brom and Liverpool and last night they were all singing the Pompey chimes, this week it will be channelled into proxy passion for the Potters. Stoke go to Hull and we need them to win. Go on Rory, lob those grenades in there.
Given the way thingshave changed in the last week it may be worth revisiting the BBC Premiership predictor. For my part I dont' t think (crosses fingers) Hull will pick up more than two more points all season. That leaves Boro needing to find five points and hoping Newcastle (who also hame Fulham at home and Villa away) fall short of that. Tough, but it is not Mission Impossible. It is going to the final day. You'd take that now wouldn't you?