Miles Starforth’s match analysis: Queens Park Rangers 2 Newcastle United 1

Emmanuel Riviere.
Emmanuel Riviere.

And then there were three.

With one game left to play, three teams could join Queens Park Rangers and Burnley in the Championship.

One of them is Newcastle United, a club which was challenging for a top-10 finish in the Premier League at the turn of the year.

One thing is clear, the team is NOT too good to go down. Far from it.

That, sadly, has become painfully obvious over the past few months.

In fact, the opposite is the case. It’s not good enough to stay up.

Jonas Gutierrez.

Jonas Gutierrez.

If Newcastle were going to win a game before the end of the season, it surely would have been at Loftus Road on Saturday.

QPR, hammered 6-0 the previous weekend, were there for the taking.

United led at the break thanks to Emmanuel Riviere’s first league goal for the club – the striker took a long kick from Tim Krul down with his left foot and finished with his right as he slipped midway through the half – and had the scoreline stayed at 1-0, the club would have been safe.

But then it all went horribly, horribly wrong. Again.

One thing is clear, the team is NOT too good to go down. Far from it.

A reorganised QPR had a couple of chances early in the second half before striker Charlie Austin, linked with a summer move to St James’s Park in the build-up to the game, broke down the right in the 54th minute.

Austin’s cross was met at the far post by Matty Phillips, who got the better of Daryl Janmaat to head past Krul.

Seven minutes later, Newcastle’s once-promising afternoon unravelled completely.

Krul’s weak goal-kick was intercepted by Phillips, who dodged a weak challenge from Ryan Taylor before rolling the ball to Leroy Fer, who picked his spot.

Rob Green.

Rob Green.

It was a thunderous strike, but the ball should never have got to Fer, in space, almost 30 yards from goal.

United, rightly, were aggrieved that referee Lee Probert failed to award a penalty after Remy Cabella was hauled down as a corner was played in, but when it rains on Newcastle, it pours, even on a bright May afternoon in west London.

Substitutes Papiss Demba Cisse, Rolando Aarons and Sammy Ameobi couldn’t change the course of the game.

And the club’s course is worrying, despite the two-point advantage they have over Hull City ahead of Sunday’s final game of the season against West Ham United at St James’s Park.

The club has been in freefall for months under head coach John Carver, and if the season last two or three weeks more, there would be no doubt about the club’s fate.

Newcastle were awful after the break at Loftus Road.

The 1,845 travelling fans in the upper tier of the School End could only watch in horror.

Newcastle managing director Lee Charnley watched from the directors’ box along with Soho-based PR man Keith Bishop, whose role at the club is unclear.

But there’s no positive spin that can be put on United’s predicament.

Owner Mike Ashley was not at Loftus Road.

After the game Carver – who has presided over just two wins since succeeding Alan Pardew in late December – held one brief press conference.

The 50-year-old blamed the defeat on a “mad 10-minute” spell.

Carver also took encouragement from the fact that United’s destiny, technically, remains in their own hands.

If Newcastle beat West Ham, they stay up. Simple. But is it that simple?

You could argue that Hull have their destiny in their own hands.

After all, they have actually won a league game recently – two of them – and Manchester United, their opponents, have nothing to tangible to play for on the final day of the season.

Surely if Hull win, they stay up?

It’s hard to see United winning their final game, and given the club’s goal difference, a draw won’t be enough for them if Hull take all three points at the KC Stadium.

Newcastle have been awful in the second half of the season. Carver must take his share of the blame, and so too must Charnley, who vetoed any January spending.

And the striker which Pardew, pointedly, claimed the club needed in his final two press conferences as manager never arrived.

Had Charnley listened to Pardew, then the club might not be facing the drop on the final day of the campaign.