Newcastle head to Southampton in worse state than Alan Pardew's nadir and when John Carver offered to fight fans
Bottom of the table, fingers pointed at the manager and his No 2 offering to fight fans at the training ground...
When Newcastle went to Southampton early in the 2014-15 season, United fans probably thought they had hit rock bottom.
But – with apathy rather than anger fast enveloping Tyneside – do the Magpies visit St Mary’s this weekend at an even lower ebb than when they suffered a second 4-0 defeat on the south coast in six months in September 2014?
Yes, fans will never turn on Rafa Benitez as they did Alan Pardew and his assistant John Carver four years ago.
However, the increasing feeling of helplessness at Newcastle’s current predicament under Mike Ashley arguably makes life even more depressing than in 2014.
Bottom of the Premier League after four games of that season despite having been given funds for seven new summer signings – four of them internationals – Pardew was facing serious flak when Newcastle arrived at Southampton 49 months ago.
And a pathetic surrender, in which Graziano Pelle scored twice, saw visiting fans vent their spleen at the manager and his coaching staff. After emotions boiled over, Carver confronted fans and goalkeeping coach Andy Woodman deleted his Twitter account.
But at least history shows that the supporters’ anger at Pardew – which manifested itself in banners and a bespoke website – prompted change.
After more woe early in October 2014, an upturn in form saw Pardew win the November Manager of the Month award.
But that was a false dawn – and Pardew seemingly knew it, walking out on United just after Christmas to take up the vacant hotseat at his former club Crystal Palace.
A look at the Premier League table now would suggest that the situation now is at it was when Newcastle last went to Southampton on their uppers.
However, in more than the obvious way – the Magpies’ miserable points tally – it could be even worse.
Rather than two points from nine games, United trudged off at St Mary’s in 2014-15 with the same total from four outings.
But while their anger towards Pardew energised the Newcastle fanbase back then, the sight of a far superior manager being desperately short-changed by Ashley has left supporters in a more dangerous state...
Yes, there is deep animosity towards Ashley, but in terms of active protest, United’s supporters appeared in Saturday’s home defeat by Brighton to have all but given up the ghost.
And Sunderland supporters know all about what can happen when a fanbase feels powerless to put pressure on an unwanted owner.
If 2014-15 offers any comfort, it is that Newcastle did stay up that season – despite Pardew ultimately have gone seven games without a win at the start of the campaign... and even despite the increasingly ridiculed Carver having taken caretaker charge of the team after his exit.
But the idea that their side could be in an even worse position at the foot of the table despite the presence of a manager they could only have dreamed of back then would have seemed impossible to United fans back then.
Now, what appears to be the truly impossible prospect – Ashley selling up – ensures another sold-out away end at St Mary’s arrive MORE miserable than ever before.