Few people would have expected Newcastle United to still be in the running for a Champions League spot come the middle of April, yet they are one of the form teams in the league, firing on all cylinders and looking unstoppable at times, the front three of Ba, Ben Arfa and Cisse proving a formidable strike force that’s leaving Premier League defenders shaking in their boots. Yet remarkably one supporter – Matty Nolan a local cabbie for LA Taxis had the foresight to predict the Toon Army would finish in the top four as long ago as August last year.
Most people would have put Matty’s confidence down to a slightly misplaced belief in his team’s ability, including former footballer and Radio 5_Live presenter Robbie Savage, who was so taken aback by the taxi driver’s statement he offered to buy Matty a new taxi to the tune of £10,000 should his prediction come true. Thinking nothing more of it Savage went about life as normal until Matty rang his talk show and reminded him of his obligation should Newcastle United finish in the top four.
Credit where credit’s due; Savage replied that he was a man of his word, and would honour the bet should the Toon Army finish in a Champions League spot. Many people would have tried to shrug the bet off as a bit of banter, but Savage showed his integrity and announced on air that he would buy Matty a new £10,000 taxi should his prediction come true. It’s a remarkable story and I’m pretty sure all but the most ardent Sunderland supporter (and maybe those of clubs also competing for the top four) will be watching with baited breath, hoping that Pardew’s men can claim a champions league slot and win this cabby a once in a life time prize.
Now before we get all misty eyed at the prospect of Matty driving around in a second hand Mondeo courtesy of Mr Savage, let’s take a look at some key stats that will help show just how likely Newcastle United are to finish in the fabled Champions League Slots:
Premier League Standings
4: Tottenham Hotspur – 59 Points
5: Newcastle United – 59 Points
6: Chelsea – 57 Points
(All teams have played 33 games)
Form Guide (Last 6 games)
Newcastle United – L,W,W,W,W,W = 15 Points
Chelsea – W,L,D,W,W,D = 11 Points
Tottenham Hotspur – L,D,D,W,D,L = 6 Points
On the face of things Newcastle United look a shoe-in for that last Champions League slot, their form is the best of the challengers, and the team currently occupying fourth (Spurs) are in freefall – Redknapp’s men have the fourth worst form in the league, and a crushing 5-1 loss to Chelsea in the FA Cup Semi Final may have dented their fragile confidence beyond repair.
However there is one final thing to look at before we start phoning 5_Live to tell Robbie Savage he might as well just cough up the dough now… and that is the remaining fixtures Pardew’s men have to face.
Stoke City (H)
Wigan Athletic (A)
Man City (H)
A shockingly difficult run in, and every single game will pose a tough challenge with all but Stoke in good form, and bar the Potters and Toffees each team may still be playing for something, be it the title, Premier League safety or a Champions League slot. Which brings us nicely on to the game at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday 2nd May, and possibly the match that will make or break their push for a top four finish. Can they do it? There’s no reason why not, the team is in fantastic form, and there is belief running through their veins that they are unbeatable and deserve to finish fourth.
So come on NUFC, this is your time, do it for the fans, do it for the city, do it for the local cabbie with a new car in his sights, and do it so the smug smile on Robbie Savage’s stupid face is finally wiped off once and for all!
Many thanks to Gary Marriner for supplying a great pic for this article.