All along, I have been the annoying pessimist Newcastle United cynic, spouting  prophesies of revolutionary defeatism.

Only occasionally in these articles has there been a flutter of hope, more often inspired by potential rather than reality.

I am still convinced Newcastle United will be relegated but I say this to Rafa Benitez, Moussa Sissoko and all the rest: prove me wrong.

Three games left; at least five points needed. Worrying about what Sunderland or Norwich do now is futile. We had our chance to beat them both and blew it.

As irrational as it sounds, the more you worry about Jermain Defoe’s pesky right foot, the more likely he is to do something with it. As the cliché goes, you just have to focus on your own fixtures and hope for the best.

Anything less than a win at Villa would be a clincher in terms of who stays up, or rather who goes down. A single defeat in any of the three remaining games would probably seal our fate too.

The dark half of my brain keeps thinking back to that atrocious Derby County team who somehow managed to earn four out of their season total of 11 points against us (and Sam Allardyce..). It would be typical Newcastle to something similar against Aston Villa now.

No matter what, based on the course of the season there can be no complaints if Newcastle were relegated. We have consistently been one of the three worst teams in the league. My only gripe would be that this season’s gift of four points could keep our local rivals safe instead.

Although the last fortnight’s performances have been very positive, it is probably too little too late. Having said that, all along there has been a prospect that this team could actually be good with the right instruction. Rafa seems to be proving that.

On a more down to earth level, having Paul Dummett back has certainly given the defence a newfound balance. Goals are also being scored from every position and the team has the confidence to bounce back after conceding.

These are all the necessary encouraging signs that could lead to a fightback. Even so, my doubts remain. For once, however, I would be glad to be proved wrong.