It was 11 May 2016 when Sunderland opened the trapdoor for Newcastle, Everton lying down for a 3-0 defeat that relegated NUFC. Now 348 days later, Rafa takes the Magpies back if beating Preston on Monday.
A dramatic Saturday saw Fulham score four first half goals in half an hour to transform Huddersfield 1 Fulham 0, into an eventual final score of Huddersfield 1 Fulham 4.
With Reading also losing (at Forest), the net result is that a win over Preston would send Newcastle 10 points clear of Huddersfield, with Wagner’s team only having three games remaining.
A poor run of only two wins (and seven goals) in the past eight Championship matches wasn’t exactly the promotion run-in that Newcastle fans had in mind…
However, it is all about over the course of a season and 88 points and automatic promotion with two games to spare, would spell success in anybody’s language.
Amusingly, a win on Monday and then another on Friday (Cardiff away) would mean that by the time Brighton next play on Saturday at home to Bristol City, the gap at the top would be only one point.
Whilst nobody is really desperate for this silverware (as compared to the overall prize of promotion), three wins and failure by Brighton to win either of their final two matches, would leave some very frustrated critics .
The name calling aimed at Rafa because it looked/looks like going up in ‘only’ second, is all a bit desperate from a media who were lining up to tell us all in August how difficult it would be to get out of this second tier.
We are not there quite yet but the finishing line has now been prepared at St James Park on Monday, now all Rafa’s team need to do is break the tape.