The Championship table at Christmas time – what could be better than seeing Newcastle United at the top of the tree?

Rafa Benitez of course says it would be even better seeing this at the end of the season, especially with April having seven matches and so many points to play for late in the season.

However, just because Rafa knows he can’t afford to let his mouth run, it doesn’t mean that other managers are prevented from doing so.

This weekend saw yet more niceties played out in the media.

The opposing manager, in this case Nigel Clough, says that Newcastle are certainties for the Premier League (and says Brighton are the same).

Rafa Benitez then has these quotes put to him and says it is not over yet and there are lots of clubs doing ‘really well’.

Yes there are – but they aren’t doing really really really well like Newcastle and Brighton.

Newcastle are nine points (10 if you take GD into account) clear of third, whilst Brighton are eight (nine with GD).

The Championship table (see below) tells you everything, nothing is decided by Christmas Day but both Newcastle and Brighton are on course to get 100+ points.

They ARE the two outstanding clubs as it stands and it is now clearly theirs to lose.

49 Newcastle (+28)

48 Brighton (+20)

40 Reading (+1)

39 Huddersfield (0)

38 Leeds (+4)

37 Sheff Wed (+3)

36 Derby (+8)

Rafa Benitez:

“I understand what he (Nigel Clough) says but I don’t totally agree with him because I don’t think there are only two outstanding teams.

“There are Leeds and Derby, who are good teams, Reading are doing really well, Huddersfield Town really well.

“So when you talk about six points difference, or nine points difference, it’s not massive.

“As I have said so many times before, we have seven games in April. So you have to be sure that you keep being consistent because the other teams are still winning and it’s still a long race until the end of the season.”

Two horse race?

“No. Not for me. I’d like to be there at the top all of the time but I’m sure it will be difficult because the other teams are strong and still they are winning.”

 “I was just convinced at the beginning of the season that we had a good team and we need to keep working and adjusting. “When we win I still say that we can improve.”