Rafa Benitez says that with the way the season has developed, he has had to now think again about what Newcastle United will need to ensure promotion.

The Newcastle Manager said he had thought 90 points ‘would guarantee promotion…but not now’.

Rafa Benitez now telling his players 90+.

Rafa pointing out how quirks can occur, saying that his Napoli team picked up 12 out of 18 group points but didn’t progress in the Champions League, whilst others have done it with only seven points.

Since (and including when) Newcastle were promoted in 2009/10, no club in third has reached 90 points in the Championship, with ironically Brighton coming closest last season with 89.

Indeed, in these last seven promotion campaigns only two clubs who ended as runners-up got 90 points or more (see below), West Brom when second to Newcastle in 2009/10 and Burnley getting 93 points as runners-up in 2013/14.

In both those instances they finished well clear of third, with 12 points the difference in 2010 and eight points in 2014.

Championship runners-up and points totals for past seven seasons:

89 points 2015/16 Middlesbrough (Brighton 3rd with 89)

89 points 2014/15 Watford (Norwich 3rd with 86)

93 points 2013/14 Burnley (Derby 3rd with 85)

79 points 2012/13 Hull City (Watford 3rd with 77)

88 points 2011/12 Southampton (West Ham 3rd with 86)

84 points 2010/11 Norwich (Swansea 3rd with 80)

91 points 2009/10 West Brom (Forest 3rd with 79)

For three clubs to get 90 points or more this season, what needs to happen?

Well looking at the current table below, it looks like the following realistically (the clubs below the top three could mathematically do it but very unlikely – for example Leeds would need 10 wins from 12):

Brighton to win seven or more of their final 13 games.

Newcastle to win at least seven of their last 13.

Huddersfield to win nine or more of their final 13.

rafa benitez

Not difficult to imagine Newcastle and Brighton winning at least every other game they have left but what about Huddersfield?

Well they need nine wins from 13 and their last 13 Championship games have given them 10 wins, two draws and only one defeat – a total of 32 points – which would see them end on 97 points if repeated.

No wonder Rafa Benitez is getting the calculator out again…

The biggest likelihood is one of those top three will fall away/apart but maybe this could end up being a freak season where three clubs end up still fighting it out until the end.

Great for TV, not so great for the nerves of Newcastle fans who were already picturing life back in the Premier League.

Rafa Benitez:

“We had a figure of 90 points that would guarantee promotion…but not now.

“It (90 points) might not be enough.

“We have to think about one game at a time but we don’t know if that will be enough.

“I was manager of Napoli and we did not qualify from our Champions League group with 12 points but some do it with seven.

 “I have no problem if someone said to me now that we would go up in second, I would take that – I don’t have any problem with trophies.

“April will be crucial and I have said that for months.

“If we won these next three games maybe that will be crucial – but we still have seven games in April and that is when things will be decided.

If we win at Brighton then the next will be easier – so let’s concentrate on Brighton.”