Fifteen cup finals, Newcastle and Lerner writes

There is a match tonight and it's a big match, but between now and the end of the season, we've got fifteen big matches. Fifteen cup finals if you want and that really is how everyone should look at them.

There isn't an excuse that is acceptable. There isn't a way out. There is no place to hide. If we don't pick up the necessary points it is because we were not good enough.

And if we're not good enough, you've not got to look far. But we shouldn't think about the unthinkable right now.

Newcastle at Villa Park

So we have the first of those cup finals tonight and this is another six pointer. Win and we go ahead of Newcastle. Anything other than a win and by close of business tomorrow night, we could find ourselves 19th and if we do and you're not going to like me writing this; the future wont be very bright.

But there is a chance. There is a chance that Newcastle, who are just one place above us in the current form table, are worse than us. There is a chance that with these changes they are likely to make, it backfires. Bringing in new players doesn't mean things get better.

Bottom three of current form table

Updates, team news and a statement from Randy Lerner

So, we'll be here for tonight. We'll be here a few hours before kick off and we'll be here, fingers crossed, feeling optimistic that it will come good tonight. It will come good with Lambert, the fear is that it takes too long. If we go down, we might not come straight back up and by then, we'll just be happy to be playing in this league. Relegation will be the death of this club unless we get a new owner.

So right now, you can probably tell I don't feel that optimistic and while the odds for this match at PaddyPower make us the favourites at 6/4, I fancy the 7/4 you'll get on Newcastle is a good price.

But the optimism will return later, it always does. Thirty minutes before kick off I'll believe we can beat Barcelona. And tonight is a cup final. If we play like it is and give everything, anything is possible. I've talked myself into a bet on us in two paragraphs.

But before I go, to the statement. I've not seen it, just seen bits, but I wanted to write that it wasn't Lerner that wrote this. It was a PR firm. It was a communication specialist. These are just words and they mean nothing. What we need is Lerner to be put in a room with supporters and for it to be filmed and for him to now know what is coming, although you'd have to be a very bad PR firm or communication specialist to know what questions are not going to be asked.

And, in days gone by, the owner publicly backing the manager was usually a signal that he didn't have long left. Could it be that if we get spanked tonight change is coming? There is only Wednesday and Thursday but a lot can happen in two days and it isn't impossible for those things to happen for us.

The players

Guzan, Vlaar, Clark, Bennett, Baker, Lowton, Westwood, Bannan, N’Zogbia, Benteke and Bent start. On the bench we have Given, Ireland, Lichaj, Holman, Gabby, Weimann and Bowery.

Honest view; I'm not sure about lining up with three central defenders. It promotes attacking from the wing-backs and you've got to have bags of experience to do that. Our wing-backs are also actually full-backs and they've only really played this way since they came to us and it hasn't exactly been something we've done for a long time or very successfully.

I'll write it now; three, five, two isn't the future.