Premier League relegation is no impossibility according to Newcastle manager John Carver, who has suggested his men face ‘six cup finals’ between now and the end of the season.
“We have got six cup finals. We need points. We have got four home games, two away, and it is important when we play those home games our fans are right behind us.”
The Magpies are on a five game losing streak and there will be those for whom odds of 66/1 about their relegation are tempting; despite the fact that they are nine points clear of the bottom three.
But is there a Premier League precedent for a side eschewing such a cushion with six fixtures remaining to fall through the second-tier trapdoor come the end of term?
In the 18 seasons since the Premier League became comprised of just 20 teams a side has fallen there has not been as much as one campaign in which a relegated team had been nine points clear of the dotted line of doom after 32 games.
Norwich in 2013/14, Reading in 07/08 and Wimbledon in 99/00 share the ignominy of spurning a six-point advantage over those who dwelt in the relegation-zone at the conclusion of the 32nd fixture.
As such Carver needn’t beat himself up too much, the 1-0 win over Aston Villa he masterminded six games back means that only an unparalleled combination of Newcastle capitulation and Wiganesque escapology can down his side.
‘The Knife’ is favoured further by the fixture list, which pairs the Magpies with a succession of one-foot-on-the-beach merchants remaining on their dance card.
One-foot-in-the-grave Leicester and QPR do have something left to play for, but the same cannot be said for Tottenham, Swansea, West Brom, and West Ham, all of whom visit St James’ Park before the campaign is out.
The Lilywhites are next up, in game Newcastle are 12/5 to win.