Newcastle get humiliated at Chelsea as threat of relegation grows
Saturday's shocking 5-1 defeat at Chelsea will make the alarm bells ring loud and clear for Newcastle United supporters. It was game over with just 17 minutes on the clock for United as the goals rained in and Newcastle simply could not keep pace with the rejuvenated Premier League champions.
Before the game, Newcastle had promised to attack and put on what Steve McClaren said should be a "fearless" display. But it was pretty obvious early in the game that United fans would be happy to hear the final whistle. They never looked like they were capable of giving Chelsea anything to worry about as the home side started strongly. And when things did start going wrong, the players began pointing their fingers at each other while others just let their heads drop.
Just a week after the uplifting display against West Bromwich Albion, United are back in the bottom three and you can't say they don't deserve to be where they are.
Most fans would have expected a defeat today, but where was the battling spirit? That is the worrying part with just 12 games to go and others -- not least Sunderland -- starting to illustrate that they are capable of getting out of trouble. Worse still for Newcastle fans, they must wait until early March for some type of reaction away to Stoke.
In the mean time, Newcastle will travel to La Manga for a warm weather training camp that may well be an opportunity for sharing some home truths inside the group. All United supporters can do is reflect on what might have been and lick their wounds after another away day surrender that leaves them staring the prospect of Championship football in the face again.
Player Ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):
GK Rob Elliot, 6 -- The final score may well have been even more embarrassing without the saves of the Republic of Ireland stopper.
DF Daryl Janmaat, 3 -- One of Newcastle's best performers this season, but this was one of his worst games for the club.
DF Fabricio Coloccini, 3 -- Was obvious what type of night it was going to be after he was left stranded by Diego Costa's power and pace early on.
DF Steven Taylor, 3 -- Not fully fit but still swept aside by Chelsea's frightening attack.
DF Rolando Aarons, 4 -- Can't be too harsh on a young winger playing left-back but he did make a shocking error for Chelsea's second goal.
MF Moussa Sissoko, 2 -- Could easily have been subbed after offering very little to the game.
MF Jonjo Shelvey, 4 -- Lacked impact and for the second away game running he looked frustrated by the end.
MF Cheick Tiote, 4 -- Picked up an injury but still lacked the same impact he served up against West Brom.
MF Andros Townsend, 6 -- Deserved a goal for all his running and was one of the few players to emerge with credit.
MF Georginio Wijnaldum, 3 -- Can't seem to handle away games and was rightly subbed at the break.
FW Aleksandar Mitrovic 4 -- Didn't get much action in front of goal but should have had a penalty.
MF Jack Colback, 5 (for Wijnaldum, 45") -- Handed the task of shoring up the midfield.
DF Jamaal Lascelles, 5 (for Tiote, 67") -- Another handed the thankless task of damage limitation.
FW Seydou Doumbia, 5 (for Mitrovic 70") -- Tried to make some impact but this was a tough night to make his debut.
Lee Ryder is the chief sports writer for the Newcastle Chronicle, and follows Newcastle from academy to first team. Follow him on Twitter: @lee_ryder.