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Opinion

Europe or mid-table for Newcastle United?

2 weeks ago
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Where will Newcastle United finish this season?

With fourteen games to go it is starting to get down to the meaty part of the season, where teams know roughly where they will finish.

For those not involved in a title race or a relegation scrap, the question is – Will it be qualify for Europe or mid-table mediocrity

It is wins (or not…) on the board of course that will decide it.

Amazingly, we only lost five Premier League games last season on that great run to Champions League football.

So how was it that Manchester United lost nine games yet finished four points ahead of us? The simple fact of the matter is, last season we drew too many games. I know what people will say, that if you are drawing games that means you’re hard to beat, but there’s a downside to that positive.

Last season we drew 14 games. That’s extremely high. As a comparison, Manchester United only drew six. This season we are seeing the other side of the spectrum, we aren’t drawing or winning enough to improve on last season’s final points tally.

As it stands, we need eight more wins to equal last season’s 19 Premier League victories, but having lost on 10 occasions already, we need to ensure we don’t draw games and instead turn a draw into a win.

It’s common consensus that top four Champions League qualification is highly unlikely with the gap between us and fourth placed Tottenham currently at 11 points (ED: Still obviously unknown at this point whether fifth place will give Champions League qualification this season).

A great run in would put the pressure on Manchester United and Aston Villa. Spurs apart, we don’t have anything too daunting left to play at home this season, mind you, nobody would have expected us to scrape a draw with Luton and come a cropper against Nottingham Forest on home soil.

Away from home, Eddie Howe and his team seem to have turned it around. It started at the mackems and it’s continued to be a form reversal from earlier in the season with Fulham, Villa and now Forest seen off without too much consternation.

We face a big weekend against Bournemouth on Saturday. They are in poor form and are facing a middling Premier League finish, some would say with nothing to play for. It’s vital we keep the pressure on Manchester United and Aston Villa but it’s equally important to shut the door on the teams immediately below us.

Last season, I kept banging the drum that we had to get the better of Tottenham to secure top four, which we duly did. This season it appears to be West Ham and Brighton who appear to be some of our competitors for Europe. I’m not having any of this talk about not qualifying for Europe to aid our 2024/25 Premier League season with less games to play.

For what it’s worth, I think we’ll get the eight wins to match last season’s win total and have us around the 60 point mark and if we can hold off West Ham and Brighton who both have to travel to St James’ Park later this season, then 7th place should be guaranteed as a minimum.

In my opinion it will be WINNING those two games against West Ham and Brighton, that will be key to either Europe or that unwanted mid-table mediocrity.

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