Newcastle United fans asking three different questions about how this all ends

Well, that’s us as Newcastle United fans broken up for the holidays then.

While it feels frustrating for now, I’m sure it won’t take long for everyone to get right into the World Cup and before you know it, we’ll only be a couple of transfer rumours away from the blessed relief of what will surely be a warmly celebrated Christmas week cup-tie with Bournemouth.

We can only speculate how the break will impact on our outstanding form (and the performance of those around us) but the lofty position we are currently in, has Newcastle United fans asking three different questions about how this ends.

Firstly, I would suggest everyone’s bottom line has become “Can Newcastle qualify for Europe?” This outcome is one that I don’t think it’s unfair to say can be expected, as I don’t see a collapse happening that’s bad enough to see us slip four or five places in the table, but complacency is the enemy in this instance.

Secondly, while we sit in third, we are all wondering if we can maintain that Champions League position. I think people are less confident on this one, although hope will no doubt burn brighter as we stay sitting up there until after Christmas at least.

Thirdly and finally, there will be occasional wonderings if we can actually win the Premier League, which sounds ridiculous given where we’ve came from. This is a stretch of course, but murmurings may well be underpinned, by the prospect of Arsenal collapsing into one of their bad runs at the wrong time. Unlikely, but this is a season like no other.

To assess the likelihood of how this might pan out, I’ve done what anyone should do if they want to know what might happen next: look at what has happened before.

I’ve had a look at the top six over the ten most recent seasons and taken an average of what is required for each position. It comes out like this:

Premier League Top Six Points Per Positions 2012 To 2022

To take where we are now as a comparison, United’s 30 points from 15 games is a straightforward 2 points per game, which would put us on 76 if replicated over the season. This would comfortably earn third place on average and would never have failed to guarantee qualification for the CL in any of the seasons above.

But of course, it’s a bit more complicated than that, as the current points return may well fluctuate. So it’s worth having a look at what lies in wait in the way of fixtures and drilling down a bit. You could say we have a slight disadvantage as there is one more away game left to play than at home. However, the fact that we have got trips to Liverpool, Spurs and Man Utd out of the way is a positive, as well as visiting the current “best of the rest” Brighton and Fulham.

Overall, I’ve broken things down into three categories: should win, could win and probably won’t.

I’d put the remaining matches as follows:

Should Win:

Home – Leeds, Fulham, Brighton, Wolves, Southampton, West Ham, Leicester

Away – Bournemouth, Forest, Brentford, Leeds

Could Win:

Home: Liverpool, Man Utd, Spurs, Arsenal

Away: Leicester Palace, Villa, Everton, West Ham

Probably Won’t Win:

Away: Arsenal, Man City, Chelsea

So, before you disagree, the above deals in probability.

We would now be favourites to win home games against anyone outside the big six, but might slip up, as we did against Palace and Bournemouth. At the other end we’d be expected to lose at Arsenal, City and Chelsea, but might spring one on them as we did at Spurs. The results will be interchangeable but I think the categories are broadly fair. The wins I’ve pegged would return 33 points. If we split the middle category into W3 D3 L3 that’s another 12 points.

Add all that together with the current total and that gives you the 76 points we’re currently working towards.

Champions League? No I’m not having a laugh.

Of course, this doesn’t take variables into account. The main negative could be injuries, as any long-term absence from the likes of Bruno or Trippier could severely hamper progress towards the current par. There’s also the question of the cups, which Newcastle will surely have to take seriously given the very real chance of carrying one off. Conversely, a positive could be our rivals getting affected by the pursuit of cups of a European variety, as well as being impacted more heavily by World Cup call ups.

Assuming this balances itself out though, I would say that based on history, Newcastle would need ten wins to qualify for the Europa League, which should be entirely achievable with the fixtures above (and a relative drop off from the early season form, which you could argue is inevitable at some point). Champions League would involve maintaining the same consistency as we currently have, although there would be an error margin of a couple of wins that would still historically see us OK for fourth.

So that leaves the other question, the pie in the sky option. Could Newcastle actually win the title from this platform? This is where the stats above begin to mislead a bit, as a 91 point par would require a step up that would basically equate to United winning all the games on the “could win” list as well as the “should win”. Seems unlikely I’m afraid.

However, I would caveat this by pointing at the incredible form of Man City and Liverpool in recent years slightly skewing the numbers. With Liverpool seemingly in transition and Man City perhaps vulnerable to a Haaland injury, they won’t be setting such an ominous pace. It’s more likely that a total in the mid-80s would get you the Premier League in this strangest of seasons. That’s still at least six wins from the “could” list, all of which most definitely requires a few of those variables to fall pretty heavily in our favour. I reckon this might be a season or two too soon.

A key factor in any optimism for me has to be the consistency that Eddie Howe has instilled in the squad.

With Isak and ASM returning to full fitness after the break, the prospect of Wilson breaking down is slightly less terrifying and the January window is two games away and will surely offer hope. The Palace cup game maybe provided a reality check to my confidence that this squad has capability in depth, but such wholesale changes are surely not likely again.

In summary then, and allowing for a few draws, we’re probably looking at ten wins for Europe, 13 for CL and a good 17 to win the whole thing.

So much going on this season that could influence this destiny and there’s likely a few twists ahead, but my overall verdict would be, make sure your passports are up to date.

You can follow the author on Twitter @Mr_Dolf

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