Rafa Benitez’s future is uncertain at St James’ Park whilst David Moyes was not able save the Black Cats from the drop
THE end to their seasons could not have been in greater contrast but there are reasons to be fearful for fans of both Newcastle and Sunderland.
These are pivotal moments in the history of both clubs.
Yes, one is on the up and one on the way down but Newcastle are also at a crossroads — and I’m not convinced Mike Ashley will take the right turn.
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What evidence is there that he is going to change now?
He clearly acceded to some of Rafa Benitez’s demands last summer, which is why he stayed on to get Newcastle back up.
But it is a different ball game now.
As soon as promotion was confirmed and Rafa refused to commit his future to Tyneside, I had to worry.
Quite simply, he needs about eight new players just to turn Newcastle into a mid-table Premier League team.
Benitez won’t want to go into next season knowing he has a squad only good enough for a relegation scrap. He won’t have it.
There is a huge opportunity here for Newcastle to establish themselves again as a top-flight force.
But he now needs, at the minimum, a £150million investment in new players.
And I am not convinced that will happen.
Mind you, such concerns are nothing compared with those down the road at Sunderland.
David Moyes must think he has run over Black Cats, never mind just taken them down.
What a terrible time he has had since leaving Everton — two sackings and now a relegation.
He has to take his share of the blame for what has happened on Wearside. His tone has been far too negative throughout, starting with an admission they were in a relegation fight as early as August.
Of course, a net spend of around £25m on the squad since Moyes came in was never going to be enough for a club who only just stayed up last season.
The players who have come in have just not been good enough.
The bigger worry for Sunderland fans, though, is not just a first relegation from the Premier League in a decade.
The real fear is for the very future of the club.
They have just announced they are £110m in debt and Ellis Short has been looking to sell the club for some time.
Yet who in their right mind is going to buy it?
There are only two assets on the pitch. You might get £4m for Jermain Defoe and maybe £15m for Jordan Pickford.
That is it. The rest of them aren’t going to raise a penny.
Forget about bouncing back, the greater concern is about slipping straight through the Championship into League One.
What a desperate state of affairs.
Newcastle, obviously, have more reasons to be optimistic.
My concern is for how long . . .