Newcastle United will always have the potential to bridge the gap to ‘big six’ if allowed opportunity…
The gap is there for all of us to see.
Not so much looking up at Liverpool at the very pinnacle, rather Chelsea who are currently sixth.
With a game in hand on all but one club below, sixth placed Chelsea are fully 13 points clear of Wolves in seventh.
From Wolves down to Bournemouth in twelfth, only six points separate the six clubs, whilst the gap from seventh to seventeenth is only 13 points – the same as separates sixth and seventh.
The signs aren’t good, working backwards the end of season gaps between sixth and seventh places have been nine points (17/18), eight points (16/17), one point (15/16), two points (14/15), five points (13/14).
This also now looks guaranteed to be the third season in a row when the ‘big six’ are also the top six.
You might be surprised to learn that in the five seasons from 2011 to 2016, only once (2014/15) were that ‘big six’ the top six.
2015/16 – Leicester champions, Southampton sixth and Liverpool & Chelsea outside the top six
2013/14 – Everton fifth and Man Utd outside the top six
2012/13 – Everton sixth and Liverpool outside the top six
2011/12 – Newcastle fifth and Liverpool outside the top six
It is almost as though Leicester winning the title in 2016 really gave them a shock, these next three seasons seeing ever increasing dominance of that ‘big six’ over the rest.
So can that gap ever be bridged again?
The answer surely must be yes but it won’t be easy.
Can Newcastle United be the team to do it, the same answer as above.
In 2011/12 Newcastle won 19 of the 38 matches and finished the season in fifth on 65 points, only four points off a Champions League place.
In the final four matches of that season NUFC lost three of them, including 4-0 away at Wigan.
With a little bit more confidence, luck, experience or whatever, Newcastle could have broken back into the Champions League. Quite remarkable really.
Last season Newcastle, despite a run of only one point from nine games at one stage, managed 12 wins and 44 points to finish tenth.
This current season Rafa’s players have eight wins and with 10 games remaining, are looking to be around that 12 win mark again.
With the formidable defence Rafa Benitez has assembled on a relative shoestring, just how many more points could have been possible even with only a fully fit and integrated Salomon Rondon to start the season and Miguel Almiron bought in that transfer window?
You look at those draws against Southampton, Cardiff, Palace, Fulham, Watford, Wolves and Everton, a bit more quality and who knows?
Newcastle United will always have the potential to bridge the gap.
What Leicester City did in 2015/16 is very unlikely to be repeated in terms of such an instant leap from nowhere but clubs outside the ‘big six’ breaking back into the top six will happen for sure in the near future. Whether they can turn that into Champions football and another club establishing itself in that top grouping, is an unknown.
Newcastle currently have the manager, they have the fanbase, they have the potential to bring in a lot more revenue, before you even start to think about the extra cash that could come from European competition.
Dreaming of closing the gap and breaking the attempted closed shop at the top, isn’t unrealistic.
If Mike Ashley sells the club then we can start that journey the very next day.
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