x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Hall: Newcastle not good enough

The former Newcastle United chairman has doubts whether Newcastle have the ability to survive relegation.

The former Newcastle chairman Sir John Hall doubts whether the Magpies are good enough to survive in the Barclays Premier League ahead of today's crunch final game. Hall handed over ownership of the club to Mike Ashley in 2007, since when fortunes have gone from bad to worse with a raft of managers coming and going and their top-flight future hanging in the balance after a disastrous season. Even victory at Aston Villa this afternoon might not be enough to stave off relegation to the Coca-Cola Championship, and Hall lamented the degeneration. "The team is not good enough," Hall said on BBC Radio Five Live's Sportsweek. "They have lost too many home matches. It's a sad state of affairs. They haven't got a good team. "Some of the buys have not been very good. I'm just hoping and praying like every other fan that we stay up." If today culminates in relegation, however, Hall is confident Newcastle will not follow Leeds into the depths of the Football League. Leeds were relegated from the Barclays Premier League in 2004, three years after appearing in the semi-finals of the Champions League, and in 2007 they went into administration, leading to them being relegated to League One. "I don't think it's as bad as Leeds," he said. "If they go down, it might take them two or three years to rebuild the team and get out of the Championship. "But the club is too strong to be in Leeds' situation." Hall also hopes Alan Shearer, whose short-term contract expires after today's game, will remain in charge next season. "I have the utmost regard for Alan Shearer," he added. "If ever there is a dedicated professional, it's Alan Shearer. I hope he stays. He will be welcomed by all the fans and everyone will rally round him." Newcastle's future rests very much in the hands of Hull, who will almost certainly ensure their own safety by matching or bettering the Magpies' result this afternoon. The Tigers are just one point above the drop zone heading into today's clash with Manchester United at the KC Stadium, and manager Phil Brown admits he has revelled in the media spotlight on the club this past week, despite the circumstances. "The world's media has been at the training ground all week," he said. "It's been a different week, but high profile, which we quite like." Much has been made of the fact today's match with United falls on the same date as Hull's Championship play-off win against Bristol City at Wembley last year, a happy coincidence that is not lost on Brown. "They're fairly similar," he told Sportsweek. "They're both cup finals in their own right. "We came into [the play-off final] in rich vein of form, so the build-up to the Bristol City game was just massive: it's £2 million (Dh11.6m) or £60 million. Which one do you want it to be? "Coming into the Manchester United game is slightly different. The odds are exactly the same ? we win the game and we're a Premier League team for a second year running, which would be a massive achievement. "But there's an agenda on the other side of the fence," he added, referring to United's Champions League final against Barcelona in Rome on Wednesday. "Manchester United are approaching the game and three days later they're playing in the greatest cup final in domestic football against one of the greatest teams in the world. "Team selection where they are concerned is going to be interesting." Brown also defended his infamous half-time team-talk on the pitch at Manchester City on Boxing Day, which many pundits have singled out as the trigger for the Tigers' alarming slump in the second half of the season. "The benefits were there for everyone to see. The second-half performance was better than the first, and in the next match we had a tremendous performance against Aston Villa," he said. Meanwhile, the former Middlesbrough striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink admits the Teessiders appear doomed to the drop, with Gareth Southgate's men three points from safety and needing results to go their way even if they defeat West Ham at Upton Park today. "I am very sad to see where they are," said Hasselbaink. "Just a few years ago we were playing the Uefa Cup final. "They have a lot of good players but they are not scoring enough goals. "I feel sorry for Gareth Southgate ? I think money-wise he couldn't buy the players he wanted. "Hopefully they can bounce back straight away as I think they deserve to be in the Premier League." *PA Sport