A beautiful two month unbeaten run opened the season. Key injuries and a dismal December nearly killed it. But Newcastle United had the grit and character to keep working and find their groove. And in March, they found it, taking a full 15 points thus far in their final 10 game stretch. They control their own European destiny. If they can somehow get another 15 points, they are almost certainly in the Champions League for 2012/13. If Everton somehow lose today in their FA Cup semifinal against struggling Liverpool, then Newcastle are guaranteed a spot in the Europa League no matter what happens. European football is a very real possibility for the Toon a full year ahead of manager Alan Pardew's schedule.
Despite lacking a potent offense for much of the season, Newcastle have still scored 50 goals thus far, which is sixth highest in the league, just behind Chelsea. It's been a true team effort. Just enjoy this cathartic, if chronologically mixed tribute video, which was posted on April 12th. It wonderfully reminds us of what has transpired since Newcastle's relegation in May 2009. There are some unforgettable goals here, including Hatem Ben Arfa's unbelivable 70 yeard run which sealed victory against Bolton on April 9th.
So, here are my silly predictions for the five remaining games the Lads have before them:
Saturday, April 21, Newcastle v Stoke: W 2-1
Saturday, April 28, Wigan v Newcastle: W 2-0
Wednesday, May 2, Chelsea v Newcastle: L 2-0
Sunday, May 6, Newcastle v Manchester City: W 3-1
Sunday, May 13, Everton v Newcastle: L 2-1
Looks like I'm predicting 9 more points out of a possible 15. A total of 68 points. Midway through this season, I predicted 60 points total.
If Tottenham and Chelsea continue to slip, Newcastle could very well squeeze into fourth place in the league table and enter the Champions League no matter what Everton do.
Once again, the Magpies have captured the hearts and minds of their loyal supporters. These are exciting times.