Newcastle United: Alan Shearer says club are a 'mess'

Newcastle United players look dejected
John Carver's last win was on 28 February against Aston Villa

Newcastle United legend Alan Shearer believes the club are "in a mess" as they fight for Premier League survival.

The Magpies, five points above the drop zone, are on their worst top-flight run for 38 years, losing seven in a row.

That has led to boss John Carver facing supporter criticism, while fans have staged protests against owner Mike Ashley's running of the club.

"They're in a mess. They're in trouble," said Shearer, speaking on Match of the Day.

Saturday's 3-2 home defeat by Swansea left Newcastle on 35 points, four places and five points above relegation zone.

They have four games remaining and have played a game more than three of the teams below them.

Shearer, Newcastle's record goal scorer as well as former captain and manager, added: "I think 35 points might be enough to stay up. But I'm looking at Newcastle, and I don't think they're safe yet. Their goal difference is not great either.

"Newcastle will need another point and then I think they'll be all right, but I don't know where that's going to come from.

"I feel a bit sorry for John Carver, because he's from the area, he loves the football club; it's just a shame some of his players don't love the football club as much as he does."

Analysis: BBC Radio 5 live's chief football reporter Ian Dennis
"If Newcastle were relegated I fear they would not bounce back immediately. In 2009-10 they had a strong core in the dressing room which was pivotal to their promotion - players such as Steve Harper, Joey Barton, Kevin Nolan and Alan Smith. Mike Ashley will be aware of financial ramifications of relegation. In December 2009 he pumped a further £25m into the club, which was crucial during that period of their promotion season."

Four games to survive

The Magpies go to relegation rivals Leicester on Saturday, with Nigel Pearson's side on a run of four straight wins that have lifted them out of the bottom three.

After that comes the visit of Tony Pulis's West Brom, themselves not certain of safety, and then a trip to 19th-placed QPR, before a final-day home game against West Ham.

So, while a single point in any of those games is entirely feasible, it is worth bearing in mind that Carver has only picked up nine points from a possible 45 in his 15 games at the helm.

Newcastle's form
Newcastle have plummeted down the league since November

Protests, profits and passion

The club recorded record profits of of £18.7m for 2013-14, the fourth consecutive financial year they have made money.

But many supporters have cited the club's £34m pool of cash assets held at the end of the last financial year as evidence of Ashley's lack of ambition at St James' Park.

That led to protests outside some of Ashley's Sports Direct Stores and a boycott of the game against Tottenham a week ago.

Relations betweens fans and the manager have soured too, with Carver complaining of the "abuse" he received from supporters in Saturday's loss to Swansea, stating the club should do something to protect him.

Carver, a Tynesider himself, was seen remonstrating with supporters during the game, with one fan saying the manager's manner brought her close to tears.

John Carver engages with a fan
John Carver reacted to supporter criticism on Saturday

Do they have the men for the job?

The sight of striker Siem de Jong, a marquee summer signing, stepping off the bench and scoring a late consolation on Saturday would have been encouraging for fans after his eight-month lay-off with a collapsed lung.

But Carver is low on resources.

Newcastle have only two fit recognised centre-halves - Mark Williamson and Fabricio Coloccini - and have been without a left-back since March.

That is after the decision to let defenders Davide Santon and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa leave in the January and summer windows respectively.

Newcastle 2008-09
A Newcastle line-up indicative of the 2008-09 squad

Those that arrived in pre-season have yet to deliver, with forward Emmanuel Riviere goalless in the Premier League and midfielder Remy Cabella failing to light up St James' Park.

On 22 November, after a run of five straight wins, Newcastle were fifth in the table - five months later they are 14th.

Carver's predecessor Alan Pardew, much maligned by Newcastle fans, may have seen the writing on the wall when he left to join Crystal Palace in December.

Too good to go down?

They said the Newcastle team of 2008-09 was too good to go down.

Michael Owen, Kevin Nolan, Nicky Butt, Joey Barton, Alan Smith, Jose Enrique; they all found themselves dropping out of the Premier League six years ago.

After a run of one win in 13 games, with Shearer at the helm, the Magpies ended a 16-year stay in the top flight.

Many would argue the class of 2008-09 is better than the current crop, who are on a similarly worrying run.

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