The movie “Groundhog Day” features Bill Murray experiencing the same events over and over again, unable to change the scenes that are playing out. Newcastle United and manager Rafa Benitez are in a similar predicament at the moment, and Saturday’s loss to Brighton is only the latest example of that scenario.
A dreadful 1-0 result at St. James’ Park was their fifth consecutive home defeat this season, now at the bottom of the Premier League table with just two points from nine games. Owner Mike Ashley was again in the stands, seeing for himself the dire standing of the club both on and off the pitch.
The first half of the fixture had its moments, as Jonjo Shelvey’s superb vision and passing accuracy were helping to create chances in the final third. Matt Ritchie and Kenedy both came close to opening the scoring for Newcastle, but once Brighton got ahead it became more difficult for the home side. Beram Kayal put the visitors ahead after a corner kick in the 29th minute.
Newcastle’s best opportunities came late in the first half, although they would enter the break being a goal down. Instead of building upon this momentum, the Toon were headed in the opposite direction. Ayoze Pérez again struggled in possession, while the introduction of Joselu for Yoshinori Muto late in the match did little to help the attack.
As the final moments faded, Newcastle never looked like a side that could equalise.
The future for Rafa
Earlier this week, rumours were swirling about the future of Benitez on Tyneside, and with Ashley more involved lately, there are reasons to believe changes could be on the horizon.
Of course, only two points from nine games and sitting at the bottom of the league would be evidence that a change of manager is necessary. However, the irony of this is that Benitez is the right man for the job at this moment and likely the best possible hope for any success.
With his contract set to expire at the end of this season, his concern about being relieved of his duties may have more truth to them than they first appeared. Ultimately, without significant reinforcements arriving in January, Newcastle have no shot at avoiding the drop in 2018-19.
The light at the end of the tunnel is not visible to Newcastle yet, on the contrary, the tunnel for them just seems to keep getting longer. “Groundhog Day” had the exact same things taking place on a constant basis. One could argue that the sequel to that movie is now set at St. James’ Park and the rather unfortunate star of the show is Newcastle United.