Newcastle cult hero Steven Taylor praying Toon don't make it hat-trick of Premier League relegations after 2009 and 2016

STEVEN TAYLOR has twice endured the anguish of  relegation with Newcastle.

And the Geordie admitted that if they suffer the same fate for the third time in the Mike Ashley era, it will sicken him just as much as when he was wearing the black-and-white stripes.


Failure to beat Wolves at St James’ Park tonight  could see them in the bottom three if Fulham win at Crystal Palace tomorrow.

Taylor, 35, is now captaining  Odisha in the Indian Super League, having left Wellington Phoenix last year when coronavirus led to an exodus from New  Zealand’s A League.

But living away does not ease the pain for the former England Under-21 defender, who has been watching his former club’s games  in his villa in Goa, where  ISL teams are based in their bubble.

He told SunSport: “Relegation would still hurt me as a fan. You never lose your love for Newcastle.

“I still get upset when the team loses, even though I’m thousands of miles away rather than out there on the pitch.”

The Toon diehard knows from bitter experience how traumatic relegation can be, though his  memories of the 2009 and 2016 campaigns felt very different. In both cases, redemption quickly  followed.

He recalled: “When we lost at Aston Villa on the final day of the 2008-09 season, it was the worst feeling in the world.

“I don’t think I’ve ever  felt as low as I did  when the referee blew the whistle and it suddenly hits you that you’re down.

“It was a horrible, horrible afternoon and I was inconsolable for days.

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“But, funnily enough, relegation proved a blessing in disguise because it meant the club could get rid of those players who never really wanted to be at Newcastle.

“You don’t want to say that it benefitted the club but it really did.

“Chris Hughton took over as manager and united a dressing room that was professional and fully committed to bouncing back at the first attempt.

“Promotion was no gimme but we gradually rediscovered the  winning habit and came back a stronger, more resilient team.”

Seven years later, Newcastle’s top-flight exile was just as short.

But by the time Rafa Benitez guided them to another  Championship title, Taylor’s Toon career had come to an end.

His 268th and final  appearance was the most surreal experience of his life.

Taylor said: “How many players can say they went down after a 5-1 win over Tottenham in an  atmosphere more akin to a side winning  the title? Only at Newcastle!

“That really was  a bitter-sweet afternoon. Our fate had already been sealed but Rafa wanted us to go out on a high, and boy did we do that.

“I just wish he’d come in a bit earlier because the fans took to him immediately.

“The lads were  receptive to his ideas and it was like the Sir Bobby Robson era all over again.

“But within 24 hours, I was an ex-Newcastle player  having decided to seek a fresh start rather than accept a new pay-as-you-play deal.”

TAYLOR’S NEWCASTLE CAREER

His Toon stint

2003-2016

Matches: 268

Goals: 15

Promotions: 1 (2010)

Relegations: 2 (2009, 2016)

Unlike the Toon Army, Taylor is surprisingly upbeat about the  Mapgies’ survival prospects.

He added: “You’d think we were ten points adrift not three points clear of the drop zone the way some people are going on.

“Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a great position but I’m convinced there is enough talent in that squad to stay up.

“Steve Bruce has been getting slaughtered but even his critics would have to agree he’s had  no luck.

“That Covid outbreak ravaged the squad. Our best player, Allan Saint-Maximin, was missing for two months and no sooner does  he return then Callum Wilson  gets injured.

“All four frontline centre-backs have had long periods when they’ve been missing too. There’s been little continuity.

“Wilson’s return is key. If  Newcastle get him back for the run-in, they’ll be fine.”

And if they are, nobody will be happier than one former player celebrating on his own in front  of the television in a southern India apartment.

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