When Newcastle United lined up against Nottingham Forest, who would have thought it?
Especially when after that opening day win, Newcastle United would reach October, eight weeks later, without a second Premier League victory of the season.
However, the promising performances of August and September suddenly started ending up getting the results they deserved, when the credible displays continued into October and November. Small margins and all that.
The performances and results have been excellent though and six weeks of Autumn action brought eight wins and a draw in nine games, progress in the League Cup and 22 points from a possible 24 in the Premier League.
This has brought Newcastle United to the very brink of something really special.
I am a born pessimist where Newcastle United are concerned, ask any of my mates.
Even during the recent excellent run of results, I have still continued to tell anybody who will listen, the first target still has to be survival. Base camp if you like.
Get the points on the board that mean Newcastle United can’t get relegated, THEN see what else we can do.
Now under Mike Ashley, reaching safety used to be a target that coincided with starting to think about your impending summer holidays.
Not this time though, as Newcastle United could / would be safe before we even reach 2023, if Leicester and Leeds are defeated.
This is how the Premier League table currently looks:
Outsiders may well be thinking, why is a Newcastle United fan talking about relegation / safety when his team is third top? Well, force of habit I suppose.
Anyway, wins in those last two remaining games of 2022 would leave Newcastle United on 36 points from 22 matches, heading into the new year.
These are the points totals these past 11 seasons of the Premier League clubs who ended up third bottom:
35 points – 2021/22
28 points – 2020/21
34 points – 2019/20
34 points – 2018/19
33 points – 2017/18
34 points – 2016/17
37 points – 2015/16
35 points – 2014/15
33 points – 2013/14
36 points – 2012/13 (-26)
36 points – 2011/12 (-31)
As you can see, in eight of the eleven seasons, 36 points would have guaranteed you safety.
On another two occasions, 36 points and a goal difference of -25 or better, would have guaranteed safety.
Newcastle United currently have a +18 GD and if winning these next two matches would be guaranteed at least a GD of +20 (as well as 36 points), so even NUFC wouldn’t be capable of dropping that advantage I think.
I think what the stats above show, is that the days of talking about needing 40 points for safety are long gone. Ironically, the largest points total of a club in the past eleven seasons, who still ended up relegated, is of course Newcastle United. Yes, it was us in 2015/16 who managed 37 points but still went down.
It shows just how grim life was under Mike Ashley though, that pretty much every season (apart from when he already had us in the Championship!), worried about relegation even though in reality, it took such a low number of points to get safe.
Of the 13 seasons that ended with Mike Ashley still in control, only twice did Newcastle United accumulate more than 46 points in the Premier League (65 points in 2011/12 and 49 in 2013/14).
Almost every season, reality was that Newcastle ended up only around three wins worth of points above that mid-30s points total that roughly saw survival reached.
If we are talking about progress now, I look back to the Kevin Keegan and Sir Bobby Robson days when in the Premier League it was a case of relegation never ever really mentioned. That is the comfort the self-appointed elite clubs have enjoyed for so long and something that hopefully we are now also going to be benefiting from.
Instead of always having to keep glancing down, a case now, fingers crossed, of season after season wondering how high (not low) Newcastle United can potentially finish.
Even a born pessimist such as myself, will really start believing I can relax and enjoy a little, when / if we reach a point where relegation worries are a distant memory.