Alan Shearer says Newcastle United's hierarchy will "only have themselves to blame" if the club is relegated.
Sunderland will send the club down on Wednesday night if they beat Everton at the Stadium of Light.
And Shearer, the club's all-time record goalscorer, has delivered a devastating attack on what he feels was dithering by the club in the latter months of Steve McClaren's disastrous tenure in his latest column in The Sun.
Shearer was given eight games to save the club when he was appointed caretaker manager in 2009.
There were just 10 matches left when Newcastle sacked McClaren and appointed Rafa Benitez, whose side were held to a goalless draw by relegated Aston Villa on Saturday.
Shearer wrote: "It looks highly unlikely that Newcastle will survive now, and the club will only have themselves to blame. For they have made exactly the same mistake as seven years ago by not giving the new man enough time.
"In 2009, I was made manager with just eight games to go. I knew straight away it was not long enough. If I had another four or five matches, I believe we would have escaped.
"This time around, Rafa Benitez was only given 10 matches to save Newcastle, and if he had also been appointed sooner, I am certain the club would not be in the position they are in now.
"There is simply no excuse for the club’s complacency.
"Newcastle were crying out for a change. It was obvious – but they waited far too long."
Shearer, now a Match of the Day pundit, also praised the impact Benitez has had at United.
He added: "If they are relegated, you can't attach any blame to Rafa. The saddest thing now is that the club will probably lose him."
Shearer – who has been critical of the club's recruitment this season – added that the club's squad needed "ripping up".
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