Newcastle United legend Alan Shearer says the club's hierarchy acted too late in hiring Rafael Benitez, as Premier League relegation looms.
A desperate 0-0 draw at Aston Villa on Saturday, paired with Sunderland's thrilling 3-2 victory against Chelsea, leaves Newcastle needing to beat Tottenham on the final day and hope Sunderland slip up twice, but the Black Cats can relegate their fierce rivals by beating Everton on Wednesday.
Benitez was hired in mid-March after an insipid spell under Steve McClaren and has picked up 10 points from 27 available.
Shearer drew parallels with his own eight-game reign at the club, which ended in relegation in 2009, and says the responsibility lies solely with Mike Ashley and Newcastle's board of directors.
"It looks highly unlikely that Newcastle will survive now," Shearer wrote in The Sun. "And the club will only have themselves to blame.
"For they have made exactly the same mistake as seven years ago by not giving the new man enough time.
"In 2009, I was made manager with just eight games to go. I knew straight away it was not long enough.
"If I had another four or five matches, I believe we would have escaped.
"This time around, Rafa Benitez was only given ten matches to save Newcastle.
"And if he had also been appointed sooner, I am certain the club would not be in the position they are in now.
"It is too little, too late. Again."
Shearer continued: "It took Rafa four of his 10 games to work his team out.
"And if it takes a world-class manager like him that long, surely that proves they had to bring someone in earlier. So, if they are relegated, you can't attach any blame to Rafa.
"But the saddest thing now is that the club will probably lose him.
"I will be absolutely amazed if the former manager of Real Madrid, the former manager of Liverpool who won the Champions League, were to be at Newcastle in the Championship and managing at places like Rotherham.
"I hope I am wrong. I would love him to stay."