Alan Shearer says what all Newcastle United fans are thinking about Steve Bruce's side
Steve Bruce says Newcastle United are “not alone” above the relegation zone – but Alan Shearer sees things differently.
The club is three points above third-bottom Fulham, with a game in hand, following yesterday’s 2-2 draw against Tottenham Hotspur.
Bruce, United's head coach, has spoken about the “six or seven” teams “looking over their shoulders” near the foot of the division.
Shearer now believes it’s a “straight shootout” between Newcastle and Fulham, beaten by Aston Villa yesterday, for the final relegation spot.
"I see it as a straight shootout between Newcastle and Fulham to decide who stays in the Premier League – and, right now, it’s impossible to call,” Shearer told BBC Sport. “I think their survival relies on just one thing – finishing above Fulham.
“Will the Magpies do it? Well, I’m always hopeful, I’m just not hugely confident. This weekend went their way, and I hope the next one does too, but I can’t be sure it will.
“The way Steve Bruce’s side played in their 2-2 draw with Tottenham gives me a little bit more belief but next time, when they play the Clarets and Fulham take on Wolves, it could easily be the other way around.”
United are four points behind 15th-placed Saturday’s opponents Burnley – and Bruce believes Sean Dyche’s side can still be caught.
“Look, the Premier League’s huge, and if you’re down at the bottom end, it’s difficult,” said Bruce. “We’ve got Burnley. We can go quite near them if we get the result. So we’re not alone down there. At times, we think we’re the only club in the bottom half of the division, it seems.”
Shearer was heartened by Newcastle’s performance against Tottenham.
“Bruce said afterwards that he was confident his side would stay up if they could maintain the performance level they produced against Spurs for the rest of the season, and I’d agree with him there,” said the former United striker.
"They’ve set the standard now. But, as part of that, they’ll also need to repeat the attacking intent they showed on Sunday, because previously we’ve not seen anything like enough of that from them.
“There have been plenty of occasions where they have been too negative, where they have played sideways or backwards and have ended up being pushed back.”