Newcastle drew a veil of secrecy over the club’s proposed sale as manager Rafael Benitez was left fighting desperately to keep his head above water.
Wednesday evening’s 1-0 home defeat by Everton, on a day when reports emerged suggesting owner Mike Ashley is close to agreeing a Â£300million sale to Amanda Staveley’s PCP Capital Partners, condemned the Magpies to a seventh defeat in eight Premier League games and left them just a point above the drop zone.
There was no official comment from the club and even sources close to the deal were tight-lipped as fans crossed their fingers in the hope that Ashley’s 10-year reign is drawing to a close.
Benitez was unable to shed any light on the situation, saying: “I don’t have any information. As I said the other day, I need to know how much money we will have for January as soon as possible, that’s it.
“But I don’t have information about the takeover.”
What is becoming increasingly clear, however, is that promoted Newcastle are in deep trouble if they do not address the deficiencies in a squad which was left short of top-flight quality during a cut-price summer transfer window.
They were ultimately undone by Wayne Rooney‘s 27th-minute strike as he capitalised on an error by goalkeeper Karl Darlow, and although they hit both posts before the break, the Magpies ran out of steam long before midfielder Jonjo Shelvey was dismissed for a second bookable offence in stoppage time.
Toffees boss Sam Allardyce, who was sacked by Ashley just eight months into his ill-fated spell at St James’ Park, was thrilled with his club’s first league away win in 17 attempts which extended his unbeaten run since taking over as manager to four games.
Asked if it had been a good time to face the Magpies, he said: “Yes, I think so. With this run, there’s a lack of confidence in the side and if you can test the lads in the right areas then it’s going to put them under even more pressure.
“Today, they probably think they are a little unlucky with the woodwork that they hit on a couple of occasions, but in saying that, there were a couple of chances we had that we might have scored another goal.
“But overall, I’m very pleased to get the 1-0.”
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