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Magpies engulfed by a tide of discontent.

Byline: Mark Smith at the King Power Stadium Twitter: @markismith50

EVEN a fish on the end of the hook offers one last wriggle of resistance. Instead, Newcastle United lie motionless in the Premier League lobster pot, waiting for the tide to wash them down a division.

John Carver's public character assassination of Mike Williamson could not deflect from the physical, mental and tactical deficiencies of a side whose only achievement on Saturday was keeping the score down to three.

It started badly, got worse and ended cataclysmically when both Daryl Janmaat and Williamson were given their marching orders for second bookable offences, both with the game long gone at 3-0. Williamson in particular was hammered by Carver in his post-match press conference, the head coach repeatedly stating his belief the sending-off was intentional - a claim the defender has since denied.

Quite what he hoped to achieve by airing such an unprovable claim is anyone's guess.

The only conceivable upshot is at least one of them will not be at St James' Park next season; it would be hard to argue the case for either.

Honest, passionate and fired-up as he may be, the players are not playing for Carver - and whose fault is that? The interim boss was handed a grenade with the pin taken out when he accepted this extended job interview but, cry as he might about the players' unwillingness to shed blood or even sweat for the cause, this run of eight consecutive defeats will forever have his name attached to it.

Their defence had less backbone than a puddle, the midfield had zero width and only Ayoze Perez looked like doing anything meaningful with the ball.

Carver's claim "a team of 11 Jack Colbacks would be heroes" might have a ring of truth from a work-rate perspective but is that really the best Newcastle fans can hope for? Were this performance not bad enough in isolation, the detritus of it leaves United without Williamson and Janmaat through suspension and potentially Paul Dummett with injury.

Fielding a defence of any description for Saturday's visit of West Brom will be an achievement in itself, not that they had much of one in Leicester. Less than 50 seconds were on the clock when Leonardo Ulloa nodded a simple corner into the net, beating the feeble challenge of Moussa Sissoko to the near-post ball.

Fabricio Coloccini looked at fault for the second when home skipper Wes Morgan volleyed in from another calamitous set-piece, the free-kick awarded when Janmaat was outpaced to the kind of 50-50 he should be winning at least nine times out of 10.

That prompted the first of his yellow cards and at 2-0 the game was basically over.

The King Power Stadium makes a fair old racket with 31,576 inside it, not that Newcastle's travelling supporters had much to shout about. They waved red cards on 34 minutes in a continuation of their antiAshley protest but the venom was less premeditated when they booed the players down the tunnel on the final whistle to a soundtrack of "you're not fit to wear the shirt".

In an extraordinary press conference afterwards, Carver admitted he agreed with their anger, Ulloa having notched Leicester's third when Emmanuel Riviere's shove saw Mike Dean point to the penalty spot.

Even an ostrich could see Nigel Pearson's side were on a different level, though the Foxes are still a point and two places behind United despite winning five of their last six.

The notion 35 might be enough points for the Magpies to bank another year's worth of TV money seems ludicrous in hindsight and there looks like being no soft landing for a Newcastle side in free-fall.

The question is, can the available players do the business while Carver is at the helm? Three games from the finish line of a relegation sprint might not seem like the time to pull the plug on a head coach.

However, it is hard to imagine the players will want to do it for a leader who has so consciously and publicly shamed one of their own.

Funny things, dressing rooms.

What might seem fair and logical from outside those walls can be taken as unforgiveable betrayal from those in its sanctuary.

It would be entirely hypocritical for a journalist to slaughter a manager for airing an honest opinion when so much criticism is directed at those who talk in bland cliches.

There was much to admire about the candid manner in which Carver picked over the carcass of his side's latest defeat - but never the sense any good would come of it.

Paolo Di Canio found that out at Sunderland.

Whether or not Steve McClaren could make a better omelette with the same eggs remains a moot point while the former England boss is contracted at Derby County.

Yet we can say for certain Newcastle United are now in panic mode.

Honest, passionate and fired-up as he may be, the players are not playing for Carver - and whose fault is that?

CAPTION(S):

Leonardo Ulloa of Leicester City scores from the penalty spot despite the efforts of Newcastle keeper Tim Krul

Newcastle's Mike Williamson fouls Jamie Vardy leading to his red card; inset right, United's Jack Colback
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:May 4, 2015
Words:875
Previous Article:THE MATCH: Leicester 3 Newcastle United 0.
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