A 2-2 draw between Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur was not the result Fulham boss Scott Parker or West Brom gaffer Sam Allardyce would have hoped for last Sunday afternoon. But for the Newcastle faithful, it was a sign that they could yet stay in the Premier League.
It’s no secret that ‘the Magpies’ have struggled for the large part of this season, and as a result they have become one of the favourites to face the dreaded drop in the English Premier League relegation odds. At the time of writing, just three points separate Newcastle from 18th-placed Fulham. However, Bruce’s men do have a game in hand over the Cottagers.
When Newcastle suffered that horrendous 3-0 defeat to Brighton and Hove Albion at the AMEX Stadium just before the international break, the Magpies’ supporters had probably accepted that they would be in the Championship next season. In fact, the reason why Newcastle have avoided dropping into the bottom three is more thanks to Fulham’s dreadful results more than anything on their own part.
However, the draw against Spurs at St. James’ Park was proof to just how quick emotions can shift in football. Prior to kick-off, Newcastle fans would have been down in the dumps, yet just 90 minutes and one good performance later, the Geordies would have been filled with hope of staying in England’s top flight once more.
Joe Willock scrapped an equaliser for Bruce’s men in the 85th minute. But it was a match that Newcastle could have easily won and if they only had a bit more confidence and perhaps a fit Callum Wilson, then they could have come away with all three points.
That is a viewpoint shared by the Newcastle manager, who was understandably pleased with the point, but felt his men deserved more from the game.
“We’re pleased but, in my opinion, it should have been three points,” Bruce told Sky Sports. “I thought we were the better side, it’s as good as I’ve seen us play for a long time, especially after the debacle of two weeks ago.
“We’ve done as well as we could have hoped, we’re just disappointed we haven’t won it. But you take a point and move on. There was the performance, which I was really pleased with, considering what’s happened over the last couple of weeks.”
The worrying thing for Newcastle is that they aren’t blessed with a favourable run in between now and the end of the season. They would surely fancy something from their trip to Burnley this weekend, but from there they face West Ham (H), Liverpool (A), Arsenal (H), Leicester City (A) and Manchester City (A) in their next five games.
When it comes to a difficult run of matches, it doesn’t get much harder than that for any side in the league, let alone one trying to steer clear of relegation. Their saving grace is perhaps ending the season with a home tie against Sheffield United before travelling to Fulham on the final day.
That is what it could all boil down to. The game at Craven Cottage would certainly be one for the neutrals. However, Newcastle and Fulham fans could be watching through their fingers with neither wanting their side to be banished to the Championship on the final day of the season.
The Magpies will be hoping that that’s not the case. The point against Spurs is a good start as they make their way down the home stretch. But performances of the same standard will definitely be needed between now and the end of the season if they are to stay up.