The stage is set and all we need now is for the Newcastle players to turn up.

A strange season that has ended up resembling more of an obstacle course than a procession, sees Newcastle United on the verge of a return to the Premier League only 11 months after relegation was confirmed.

A victory over Preston would be enough to see Rafa Benitez and his players over the finishing line and a job well done, at least for the Manager and a core group of players.

Currently on 85 points after 43 matches, a final total of 90+ points would be a nice way to crown things off, with now even still a small chance of ending up as champions.

Brighton, Reading and Huddersfield went into the weekend as first, third & fourth, and all have lost.

These Newcastle players will never get a better chance to go out at St James Park and have such a platform to be instant heroes.

Never mind what has gone before and how some of these players have repeatedly let us down this season, they have this perfect chance to persuade the fans, rest of the squad, and especially Rafa Benitez, that they have the character and ability to play for Newcastle beyond May.

We have all seen Newcastle players in the past who looked hopeless cases, only to then find a starting point to resurrect and rebuild their careers at St James Park.

What I would say though, is if they can’t do it in this Monday night match then they are really a waste of space and need binned as soon as possible.

A packed home stadium, what is set to be a class atmosphere, up against a team in Preston who have nothing to play for, with the chance of sealing promotion in front of fifty two thousand of your own fans – all of this under the lights at St James Park.

If there are any Newcastle players who can’t respond to that then they are really at the wrong club.

Not forgetting as well that this is second tier opposition, so what hope could you have for any Newcastle players in the Premier League if they can’t get up for this tomorrow night?

As well as being hopefully a night of celebration (and relief), this is also an audition for so many of this Newcastle team.

Interesting to see who can pass the test.

(All contributions from Newcastle fans welcome, send articles to [email protected])

  • love toon despite

    Succinctly put Dean, I’ll be there to cheer them on. I just hope we do it in style.

    • Jezza

      Ha ha, 1-0 own goal in off the defender’s back side in the 97th minute completely against the run of play will do me fine.

  • Leicester Mag

    Spot on there is little pressure and no excuses

  • Alreet

    Couldnt be in a better position to finish the job.

    Come on lads get that early goal then take em out.

  • Rob Brown

    One way or another the job will get done but Instant heroes?
    Never mind what has gone before?
    What a load of bollocks.

    Terrible performances, a hideous collapse and any other manager would be fearing for his job after such poor displays.

    8 years ago Hughton took us up much more decisively – with better style and with more enjoyable football.

    It seems to me that we are suffering from serious “Rafa blindness”.

    • Damon Horner

      Can you name one manager who got sacked after winning promotion from the second tier?

      • Rob Brown

        Errrr – Chris Hughton!

        • Jezza

          Yes we should all be very concerned. Chris Hughton’s fate was sealed in 2010 when Ashley’s good mate Pardew became available. Pardew is available again, Rafa will want appropriate funds for team building in the summer, Pardew has already spent four years showing he is happy to do the job without such funds.

          • Lord

            I was relieved to read last night that Pardew is looking at opportunities to manage abroad. Please someone sign that man up now!

          • Jezza

            Yes but he’s a Londoner, Newcastle is abroad to him ha ha.

      • Rob Brown

        And lets not forget that Ranieri got sacked after winning the Prem.

        • Damon Horner

          So Rafa should fear for his job if he has a poor start next season? Sounded like you meant right now.

    • gallowgate26

      Hughton took owa a team of ready made leaders & men (Nolan, Harper, Barton, Carroll). Rafa inherited a team of mice and has had to add about 11 signings (some have done well and others admittedly haven’t). It’s a total nonsense to compare two seasons 7 years apart as if they are the same job.

      • Rob Brown

        Rafa had a team that could have come straight back up, but he chose to rebuild. His decision.
        To ignore the fact that many of our performances have been horrific is just plain daft.

        • Albert Stubbins

          Rob- that team would have never come straight back up- who was going to score the goals? Mitro? No chance- without Gayle we wouldnt be coming back up.

        • Jezza

          To be fair I don’t think Rafa chose to “rebuild”. One way or another I don’t think he had any choice about selling some of the more, shall we say, marketable players he inherited.

      • MadMag83

        Agree with you, that Newcastle side was better than this one as a squad. If we had a like for like back up for Gayle I think we’d be top and promoted ages ago, Mitrovic and Murphy have put the effort in but they don’t carry the same threat as Gayle with his pace and movement.

  • Damon Horner

    I think the best thing we can do is not apply the pressure, I think there are a lot of these players feeling too much of it already playing for us at the moment with the expectation of not just promotion but in a faultless manner.

    • Albert Stubbins

      if they can’t handle the pressure of a club like Newcastle they shouldnt be here. I agree that the crowd does play its part but that is part and parcel of any big club- the expectation levels and that will never change.

      • Damon Horner

        No but how the players handle that can change. It’s just a bit of patience. We aren’t going to get great players with great character playing for this club at the moment.

        • Albert Stubbins

          agreed about the great players but why not players of character? any manager who manages our great club knows that only certain players have the character to wear the shirt- most of them have or are being paid a hell of a lot of money to ensure they get the right type of player in. If you cannot play in frontof 50,000 every week and manage the demands of that you are at the wrong club- most players will know of the demands before they come to Newcastle-they have to man up- I’ll give you an example of good character but not great player- Mitro- he gives 100% every time he is called upon to play then you have players like Diame with big reputations but no bottle!! sorry but I stand by my comments- man up and give 100% and you’ll be fine- anything else is unacceptable.

          • Damon Horner

            I suppose all I’m saying is where you say “if you can’t handle it” I’d go with “if you never can handle it”.

            Modric is an example of what I’m saying, he left Spurs with more strength both mentally and physically than he had when he signed.

            I’d hate us to force out a good player when just a but of patience would do the trick.

          • Lofty

            Albert Stubbins, I agree with your point about expecting character in our players and I think by and large most of them do have that. However, I think the point Damon is making is that however much character you have, it must be difficult to switch off from hearing a sizeable minority of the support audibly groaning or worse still spewing venom your way when you’ve just messed up a pass or shot. We all have opinions and there is nowt wrong with that, but as Damon says, maybe have a bit of patience and moan in the pub?

          • Albert Stubbins

            yes, you are both right. Unfortunately it has always been the way at St James’ from my recollections. I have been guilty of it myself on occasion if I’m being totally honest. It is a game when we all need to be patient and stick with the team- when we do this collectively we win far more than we lose but again the st james crowd as with most big clubs has that degree of expectancy- I think the big occasions bring out the best in our support though and maybe this is unique to us. We do need big characters though to move forward as a team although your right though the only focus should be the lads on the pitch tomorrow- we can hold the inquests after the season has finished. NUFC/SMB

          • Lofty

            Spot on bloke. Bong eyed defiance from the crowd will always scare the s***e out of the opposition. We ALL need to remember that!

  • Phil K

    Two thirds of these players have shown they can’t cut it. Players like Murphy have shown maybe they can, if given a chance muck in and produce. Too many shrink away and hide.
    Theres others like Aarons and his perpetual sick notes……I’m sick of his lack of contributions. Perez/Mbembe/Lascelles may well be better in Prem.
    Darlow’s OK but if we can get a better keeper……we’ll need one maybe

    • Albert Stubbins

      A 25 goal a striker can cover over a lot of cracks as a certain Alan Shearer proved in the past. The hardest position to find that elusive player- I like the look of the lad from Bristol, Abraham- didnt a certain Andrew Cole not ply his trade there as well? a lot of money is needed to be spent whichever way we look at it.

      • Jezza

        “A 25 goal a striker can cover over a lot of cracks…..The hardest position to find that elusive player”

        Also the most expensive position to strengthen which is probably why NUFC haven’t even been looking in recent times.

        • Albert Stubbins

          You are right Jezza but I believe big money is going to be spent this summer. I know you don’t share this sentiment and have good reasons for this but I definitely believe the worm has finally turned. This summer we will both have our answer- p.s I like the look of Tammy Abrahams from B.City- unproven but so was a certain A.Cole. 10/15 million would buy him I think.

          • Jezza

            I think Tammy Abrahams is out on loan at Bristol City from Manchester. I doubt very much Manchester would sell him at the age of 19 but maybe a loan would be a possibility.

          • Albert Stubbins

            Either them or Chelsea- i agree hes a bit raw but these are the sort of players we should be in for. We definitely need a top drawer striker next season to avoid a repeat of last season. Gayle is injury prone and needs real quality up alongside him or to play off him- either that or a real quality no.10 to replace diame/perez. I wish little Peter B was 25 years younger!! lol

          • Rich Lawson

            Chelsea,just buy him,he looks great in a struggling team.

  • Wor Monga

    Still banging on that drum about ‘getting rid’ of players, and the old chestnut about only ‘2nd tier opposition’, Dean… when in actual fact the top half of the Championship is probably set up to be more competitive over the same amount of games as at least the lower half of the PL…when you look at the PL now, below the top 8 clubs only 1 of them hasn’t been in the Championship in the last few years, and that’s the Mackems, who are stuck firmly, at the bottom of the pile…

    …of course some players will go, and others will come in, this summer…some haven’t played much, and others have played a lot without much thanks from the ‘keyboard crusaders’ like yourself, Dean…cos that’s the way Rafa operates…

    …but getting promoted from the Championship is no mean feat, and it’s harder still coming from the utter chaos we found ourselves in after the many years of mis-management and relegation…In view of that I would say all the players who have put in the United effort to achieve it this season (whenever it happens), should be applauded, and what’s more, I’m certain they will be!!!