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Are we on for the Championship? - 23/01/2003

A few people were surprised when Alex Ferguson mentioned Newcastle as potential champions, for me, it was a typically well planned move by the Man Utd chief to increase the pressure on Newcastle. He knows that with our home form being what it is, and with both Arsenal, and Man Utd to visit St.James, Newcastle are in a genuine position to actually win the title. I actually belief that it could happen!

I didn’t see last night defeat of Bolton, I heard that we had a good first half and took a foot off the gas in the second. Nevertheless, I’ve seen enough over the season to convince me, that given certain variables, Newcastle will be Premiership Champions. The three areas to look at are the form of our flair players, the picking up of away points, and the necessity of beating both Arsenal and Man Utd at home. If all these can come together we’ll see the first Championship side since 1927.

When I’m talking about the flair players, in particular I’m looking at Robert, and to a lesser degree Solano. With these two on song, consistently, home and away, we’ve a striking force that’s as potent as anything else out there. Lets face it, you can hardly say this season has been great for either of the two wingers. But look where the club is placed, and imagine where we’d be if both these players had been playing to their potential. Of course, with these two picking up their game, you’d expect to see some better results away from home. If last season’s away results could be matched, I’m sure you’d see Newcastle win the race for the title. This year’s squad is better than last, and although we’ve a few injuries, we had the same problem last season. The loss of Craig Bellamy hurt the club, but if he can maintain his fitness, then it won’t be a major surprise to go to Spurs and Boro and collect full points. We also have to visit Leeds, Charlton, Everton, Fulham, Sunderland, and West Brom. So it’s a much easier run in – away from home – that should bear fruit. Let’s not kid ourselves, Arsenal and Man Utd aren’t going to drop many points, so when they come to St. James we need to be taking all that’s available. A draw will not be enough, it’s three points or bust, but we’re capable of getting them.

I appreciate there’s no guarantee’s in football, but if everything goes to plan, I honestly believe we’ll be Champions. Remember, the other two have the F.A. Cup and Champions League to contend with. They’ll face injuries, fatigue, and pressure. Although we’re still in Europe, the expectancy is different and that’s why I think Ferguson made his statement last week. He sees Newcastle as a genuine threat…and who am I to disargue?

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