Newcastle find their Barclays Premier League destiny out of their own hands in a predicament that manager Rafael Benitez described as “bad, but simple”.
The goalless draw at already-relegated Aston Villa combined with Sunderland’s 3-2 home victory against Chelsea leaves Newcastle in the relegation zone, a point behind their north east rivals.
Benitez is right, it is simple. A Sunderland win against Everton on Wednesday night will send Newcastle back down to the Championship. Even if Everton manage to get something at the Stadium of Light, the Magpies will have to win at home to Tottenham on the final day of the season and hope the Black Cats do not win at Watford.
“It’s bad, but simple,” said Benitez. “We have to wait and then after try to win, depending on what they do during the week.
“`If it goes to the last one then we have to fight to get the three points and see what happens.
“Everyone is disappointed, but this is normal. The only thing you can say is try to be ready, in training and recovery, for next week because we have to play one game and we have to get three points.”
Benitez saw his team create the better chances at Villa Park but Newcastle were wasteful in front of goal, most notably in the second half through Jack Colback and Aleksandar Mitrovic – who also went very close to breaking the deadlock with a header.
The former Liverpool and Real Madrid manager felt his players began the game too nervous.
He said: “I think that we didn’t play well (in the first half) because maybe there was too much anxiety. The players were too tense and we couldn’t do what we wanted to.
“In the second half we were better, there was a reaction and we created some chances and were pushing and pushing but when you have so many people behind the ball you can’t find a clear chance and when you are under pressure you make more mistakes.
“We knew (the Sunderland score) in the second half and we were better in the second half. We had the chances of Mitrovic and Colback. It is a pity but it was not enough.
“It was an opportunity to stay ahead of Sunderland and we couldn’t do it. Now we have to be ready for the weekend, and that’s it.”