Newcastle United are facing up to the sheer horror of lying sixth in the Premier League table after this weekend’s results. Now Gary Neville has shared his thoughts on where they will end up come May.
If someone had told us 12 months ago that we’d be sitting sixth in the league in a year’s time, we’d have been over the moon, yet here we are and it feels kind of … disappointing. Falling from third place, when for a while we’d opened up a decent gap, is a bit shocking, but it’s not the end of the world.
Now we have to see if we can pick ourselves up and start to get back to winning ways to secure one of the much-coveted European spots.
Speaking on his Gary Neville Podcast, the man himself has stated that he believes that Newcastle will miss out on Champions League qualification, but doesn’t rule out European competition all together. “I said a few weeks ago that I didn’t think Newcastle were playing well enough, they were stumbling into games, not getting goals and I thought they would struggle to get top four,” said Neville.
“But I never expected them to get into the top four at the start of the season, so I don’t feel that’s a disappointment or a criticism. If they finish fifth, that would be an unbelievable season for Eddie Howe and Newcastle in terms of how they’ve been quite measured, the new ownership, since they came in.”
Neville thinks top four is gone for Newcastle
If we’re being completely honest, did any of us really expect to break into that top four in our first full season under the PIF-led consortium? Our form took everyone by surprise last year, and the fact we were third at Christmas blew everyone away.
Then I think, as a fan base, we got a bit greedy and wanted to keep that spot all to ourselves. Which is understandable. But now we’ve had a run of games without winning, which has sadly coincided with teams below us finding form, we have slipped out of the Champions League spots, out of the Europa League spot and are clinging to a Europa Conference League place.
Champions League would be too much next season
I’ve said many times, though, that I think as much as the extra revenue and prestige the Champions League would bring us, trying to compete in that competition alongside the Premier League next season would be too much too soon. As Dan Ashworth said, we need two more summer transfer windows before we can amass a pool of players capable of sustained competition for an entire season.
If we even just manage to scrape into the Europa Conference League, that’s a huge achievement in one season, especially when the target was a comfortable top-half finish.