Still Standing

Fate and the Football League fixture computer threw up a remarkable series of matches for Newcastle United in the last eight days.

Our last three games, all away from home, pitched us against the teams who are very much our direct competition for automatic promotion this season.

The press and media, bless them, got very excited about this run of games, and speculation was rife that we might lose all three. Indeed, there were certain parts of the media (are you reading this Sky match pundits and commentators?) only too willing to diss us and talk as if we were about to crash and burn.

From a Newcastle United fans’ perspective I think it’s fair to say we were concerned about the need to get some points from these fixtures, whilst at the same time quietly confident that we would thanks to our faith in the main man Rafa Benitez.

Of course, those games are over now. We’ve visited all three of our close rivals, played them on their own patch and, much to the media’s disgust, gained 7 points from the possible 9.

We’re still standing. In fact it’s better than that.

We won 2-1 at Brighton, we won 3-1 at Huddersfield and we drew with Reading where we failed to score, but the best defence in the division (ours) kept a clean sheet.

It’s not just the fact that we picked up 7 points from a possible 9, its also the fact that these games represent another fixture out of the way without our rivals gaining any ground on us.

And so this morning we sit proudly at the top of the Championship league table – 3 points ahead of Brighton, and 9 points clear of third-placed Huddersfield, who have a game in hand.

Nothing is settled yet, nothing is over. With 10 games left to play, there are still 30 points to play for.

And we need to bear in mind that some of our remaining games are against teams fighting relegation at the wrong end of the table.

And these are the teams that have sometimes proved to be a banana skin for us this season. I’m sure no-one needs reminding that Blackburn, for example, have done the double over us this season, that Wolves came to St James’ Park and won comfortably.

With the likes of Burton, Wigan, Birmingham still to play, we can’t be complacent.

And Fulham this weekend at the Cathedral on the Hill, could be another banana skin as they try to muscle in on the playoff places.

However, before the season started if someone had offered me the position of 9 points ahead of 3rd place with 10 games to go, I have to say would have snatched their hand off!

As they often say on TV – it’s in our own hands.

What do you think? As ever, we would welcome your comments, opinions and views below.

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