Newcastle United face Derby County this afternoon.

Seven years ago when Newcastle were last in the Championship, they also faced Derby County with 18 games remaining.

Much has been made of the comparative/contrasting paths that the 2009/10 promotion season is taking to this current one and let’s hope it takes a very similar remaining path…after today.

Seven years ago Newcastle had just beaten Cardiff City 5-1 at St James Park, their biggest win of the season up to that point.

Next game with 18 matches remaining was Derby County away on Tuesday 9 February, Newcastle losing 3-0 for their biggest defeat of the season.

It had been a strange time for Newcastle after Christmas 2009, drawing five of their seven games from Boxing Day onwards before those Cardiff and Derby matches.

However, a word of warning for those who are taking a bit too much comfort from the fact that at this moment Newcastle have 59 points from 28 matches, the same as they had in that 2009/10 season when they ended up Champions on 102 points.

After that 3-0 defeat to Derby on 9 February 2010, Newcastle didn’t lose another match, winning 13 and drawing four as they walked away with promotion and the (second tier) title.

Newcastle picking up an impressive 43 points from a possible 51 in those final 17 matches.

I am not advocating losing to Derby today…but it would be a remarkable achievement if this current Newcastle squad emulated that end of season run-in seven years ago.

I have a feeling that it isn’t going to prove quite so comfortable this time so a win today is very much needed.

The fans and players coming together with Rafa Benitez to show that if those three are in harmony then great things can be achieved.