Journalist Aaron Stokes believes that if Newcastle United fail to secure European football this season, it will be viewed as a disaster.
Newcastle, perhaps unexpectedly, find themselves inside the top three heading into the second part of the season having lost just once across all competitions during the 2022/23 campaign, losing just three games all calendar year.
It’s also not as if Newcastle have had an easy run of fixtures, having taken points off Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur – including victories against the latter two.
This is why Stokes has claimed on the Everything is Black and White podcast that it would be a disaster if Newcastle were to drop out of the European spots come the end of May.
He said: “I don’t think we can beat around the bush, if they fail to qualify for Europe this season, it is a disaster of a season.
“Because look, if you’d have said to me before the season, ‘you’re going to finish eighth’, myself and yourself would be snapping the hand off at eighth position.
Will Newcastle finish in the top seven?
“But the goalposts have changed now. They’re third in the Premier League table at Christmas. They’ve got a massive advantage over other clubs and that is that they’re not playing European football, and really, they’ve got off quite scot-free at the World Cup because none of their players have got injured or had a massive workload.
“So it would be a disaster, in my opinion, if they didn’t finish in the top seven this season.”
TIF Thoughts on Newcastle’s aims for the season…
It’s not too crazy of a claim from Stokes given that after 15 games Newcastle are third and have tasted defeat just once after playing almost every team in the division, because for them to fall out of the top seven would require a nine-point swing in the second half of the campaign.
What also has to be remembered is that the Magpies have found themselves sitting third while never being able to field their strongest lineup given the injuries picked up by Callum Wilson, Allan Saint-Maximin and Alexander Isak.
Therefore, if Eddie Howe can keep his squad motivated and focused one game at a time while keeping his star players fit, we feel there is no excuse for finishing outside the European spots for the Magpies.