Even if we discount the fact that they have now named their stadium after a company that their owner runs, throwing almost 120 years of history into the gutter, Newcastle United have been hitting the headlines a lot more than usual this season.
After 11 games they sit third in the table, just a point behind Manchester United and three points ahead of Chelsea in fourth. This is a position which not even the most seasoned and cynical pundit would have predicted.
However they undoubtedly deserve a lot of credit for the start of the season, But the fact is they have only picked up two points in games against the so called Big Six. Drawing 2-2 with Tottenham on October 16th and 0-0 with Arsenal way back on the first day of the season when the Gunners began that abysmal run of form.
Though those results deserve some credit, until they start winning those sorts of matches the Magpies will not become genuine top six contenders.
As heartening as it is to see another team up there mixing it with the big boys, I feel that by Christmas Newcastle will have run out of steam and dropped back down into a top ten place which realistically is their best hope for this season.
When you look at their next three fixtures, they have Manchester City away, Manchester United away and then Chelsea at home on December 3rd, even the most ardent Newcastle fan wont be expecting much more than to maybe mirror their earlier results against top London sides and take a point off Chelsea at the start of December.
To be honest, as much as I would love to see the big Manchester clubs inflicted with a bloody nose by the lads from the North East, the amount of talent from both clubs should produce an easy home win on both occasions.
Chelsea at home is a different matter entirely. With the crowd behind them and Demba Ba on form, it’s not entirely unrealistic that Newcastle could snatch something from the game.
The squad the Magpies have to pick from isn’t without talent, but it lacks the depth of a top six side. Ba is in great form, but the injury prone front man doesn’t yet have the credibility of a goal scorer like Torres, van Persie or Rooney.
Leon Best has a lot of potential and at 25 he still has some years to mature and Shola Ameobi is only a player of average calibre. Peter Lovenkrands shone for Rangers but he is 31 now and past his prime. Danny Guthrie is an excellent young midfielder and Argentinean Jonas Gutierrez has produced flashes of brilliance but has lacked consistency.
All in all, as sad as it may be, I firmly believe Newcastle’s great start to the season will falter and they will fall away from their current lofty perch and drift back into mid table mediocrity, starting with defeats against Man City, Man United and in all probability Chelsea.