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Opinion

Mike Ashley and Steve Bruce could now be handed this biggest slice of luck of them all

8 months ago
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No matter where Newcastle United end up this season, the general consensus is that the club have benefited from huge slices of luck.

However, by the end of the season: Mike Ashley, Steve Bruce and Newcastle United could be handed the biggest slice of luck of them all.

With Friday’s announcement that Manchester City will be banned from all European competitions for the next two seasons (pending an appeal) it opens up a whole host of questions as to who qualifies for both the Champions League and Europa League competitions.

In normal circumstances, the top four Premier League teams qualify for the Champions League group stage outright but with the current situation concerning Man City, fifth place gets you Champions League qualification this season and that usual Europa League slot will no doubt filter down to whoever occupies sixth place.

The Premier League website states that the maximum number of English teams that can enter UEFA competitions is set at seven but that doesn’t necessarily mean that those seven teams get there by virtue of their league placing.

The winners of the FA Cup and Carabao Cup also qualify for the Europa League outright and the Europa League qualifying rounds respectively. But what happens if those teams are already in a UEFA competition slot via the league?

The Carabao Cup (EFL) winners enter the Europa League at the qualifying stage but with Manchester City playing Aston Villa in the final, where does that honour now go? I’m reliably informed that it WON’T go to finalists Aston Villa unless they win the cup, which may nark the Brummies that love to laugh at our expense.

So will that Europa League spot go to another team in the Premier League? I’m also reliably informed, yes.

Now there’s still a little way to go in the FA Cup but with a whole host of Premier League teams in that fifth Round draw highly likely to be qualifying for Europe via the league, where is the place earned by being the FA Cup winners going to? The answer is, the next team down in the Premier League as I understand.

Incredibly we could be looking at a situation where the team that finishes eighth could be playing European football next season and as it stands, Newcastle United are only five points away with a game in hand (Arsenal away today)

If Bruce’s luck holds out (and our defenders keep scoring our goals), he could be Head Coach of a team with one of the most impotent attacking records to qualify for Europe, that the Premier League has ever seen.

Back in 2012, Alan Pardew’s Newcastle United benefited from a poor Premier League with a few big clubs having off seasons (We finished above Chelsea and Liverpool) but the one thing that couldn’t be doubted was that despite what I thought of the manager himself, the side had an abundance of quality and talent in it, not to mention a good work ethic.

Steve Bruce has rode his luck this season with some shocking displays earning points that we should never have been anywhere near collecting.

We have also benefited from some top sides having awful seasons by their standards and our current team isn’t a patch on the one that finished fifth in 2012.

If by chance this season pans out in the way I’m envisaging, one of the biggest pieces of luck in football history could be yet to come.

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