After an emotional week on Tyneside, Newcastle United welcomed West Brom, a team whose fortunes were so in tune with ours last time we were relegated. As Carver said in his programme notes, the time for talking had finished, it was time to make actions speak louder than words. 

Earlier in the day, Sunderland had overtaken us with a win at Everton, Gateshead lad Danny Graham putting us further in trouble with his first goal for the Wearsiders. 

All eyes were on team selection, Janmaat and Williamson being suspended, Cisse ostensibly available. As it turned out, Riviere, who is still just one goal short of the total of league goals scored by compatriot World Cup winner, Guivar’ch, was preferred. 

Carver was able to put out a back 5, all of international pedigree. Anita, a midfielder was at right back, Jonas, a midfielder left back and Dummet, a left back at the start of the season, in central defence. 

Midfield appeared to provide some solidity with Ryan Talor and Colback flanking Sissoko. Up front, as stated, Riviere was to lead the line with flair in support in the shape of Perez and Cabella. 

In opposition was a physically formidable presence selected by West Brom. Two managers who have never been relegated from the Premier League took up their places in the dugouts. 

Perhaps it was the absence of Williamson that meant Newcastle started by playing from the back. Notably, we saw Krul playing it short rather than to beyond the half way line for diminutive players to challenge giant defenders. West Brom defended in an imposing military line. Here was the club that went down with us and came straight back up with us.

An early fright saw Anita clear off the line defending his post. Elsewhere Leicester went ahead against Burnley.

As Carver almost predicted in his simply the best  press conference Newcastle fell behind from a set piece. Up to that point we had 65% possession but once again, could not challenge against height. The real time league table saw us in trouble:

Newcastle went on to maintain 2/3 possession. A set piece at the other end, and in the absence of Williamson, Ryan Taylor played a shorter ball into a shorter target. Perez controlled and finished clinically. Half time came, Villa Leicester were ahead, we had scraped back to safety:

 In the second half, Hull fell behind at home to Burnley. 

At St James’ Park, the pace picked up. On 72 mins Dummett saved on the line, former Mackem, Gardner and former Smoggy, Brunt having spurned chances to go ahead. 2nd half subs, Cisse and Ameobi provided a bit of a threat, the latter close with a spectacularly gymnastic effort. Newcastle were looking more like a team with Carver appearing increasingly demented on the touchline.

 At the final whistle, we were waiting for the result at Leicester which confirmed Burnley as down.

Turning attention to the relegation run in, particularly next weekend, QPR need to win at the Etihad on Sunday to stand any chance. Remaining fixtures are as follows: 

Newcastle United: QPR (A), West Ham (H)

Leicester:  Sunderland (A), QPR (H)

Villa: Burnley (H), Arsenal (A)

Sunderland: Leicester (H), Arsenal (A), Chelsea (A)

Hull: Spurs (A), Man Utd (H)

QPR: Man City (A), Newcastle (H), Leicester (A) 

Villa should make themselves effectively safe with Burnley at home, allowing them to prepare for an FA Cup final. With Leicester playing Sunderland at the Stadium of sh ….. Light, one of them should be safe but this could a crucial game for others, Sunderland playing two top teams away to finish the season. 

Hull’s final game is against manager Steve Bruce’s former club, Manchester United but without Ferguson still there to do him a favour. Just as Southampton have done their best to avoid the Europa League, having lost successive games against relegation candidates Leicester and Sunderland, Bruce will sniff a chance against 6th placed Spurs. 

Therefore, next weekend’s focus will bring attention to both Hull and a mere 10 miles away at QPR, Newcastle. With Carver having ended his run on 8 defeats he will be looking for his first win in 10. A draw for Newcastle will not be enough if Hull win, goal difference favouring the East Riding side. Things could be interesting at Kings Cross both before and after the games. 

Hull need a win to ensure going to the last day of the season, a win for Newcastle could conceivably lead to safety, or else Sam Allardyce may make himself noted at St James’ Park in his last match in charge for West Ham.