Newcastle United will go into Sunday’s game against Arsenal at St James’ Park knowing that a victory will take them past Rafa Benitez’s public survival target of 40 points.
A victory against the Gunners would see us on 41 points and the bookies paying out to people that backed us to survive against all odds it seems.
Earlier in the season, Rafa was cunning with his words when he basically said that we were a championship side punching above our weight and that we would need time to adjust. Obviously, with Rafa involved in the politics with Mike Ashley in needing funds for additional bodies, it was a dangerous game being played out in the media.
Things seemed to click into place when the January transfer window shut for me in regards to our standing, not so much for the decent loan acquisitions we got in Martin Dubravka and Kenedy or the potential of Islam Slimani but because of Rafa’s willingness to know which players he had to work with. Since then, the game plan has been improved somewhat with the potential there to kick on.
Regardless as to the as and when’s of relegation being avoided, there will be a great clamour from the media to completely reverse their attitude in going from saying we were certainties to go back down to then laud Rafa towards a different job. Maybe even try to get him to brag about what an achievement it will have been in winning against the odds but I wouldn’t hold my breath.
If any statement about survival is forthcoming then I reckon Rafa will hope to get to his survival target quicker next time out so he can target something else.