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Newcastle must stop trading in moral victories

If they value their Premier League existence, Newcastle must get past the "we sure look a lot better" stage of things and progress on to "we need points."

Chris McGrath/Getty Images

There has to come a time.  There is a time where "progress" is not an acceptable metric when the ultimate goal measure of acceptable is dictated by the performances of other teams around you.

There are 28 matches left in the Premier League season.  If we are to continue on at the current pace of .6 points per match, Newcastle United will end 23 points (if you round up) which falls on the good news side of the spectrum if your definition of "good news" is based on not being the worst Premier League side ever.  That distinction would remain Derby County's for the bragging while it would surpass two lower point totals earned by our derby overlords, so... results, yeah?

When the 2015-16 Premier League fixtures were announced, the narrative surrounded the measurable fact that, based on last year's records, Newcastle had the most difficult opening eight matches of any team in the league.  As they stumbled through those first six matches, earning a whopping 3 points from draws with Southampton and Manchester United and Chelsea to match the inevitable losses to Swansea City, Arsenal, West Ham and Watford (at St. James' Park), and Manchester City, we all justified the results the same way.  We'll start picking up points after that because the fixtures get so much easier.

It worked that way for a minute in the form of a 6-2 drubbing of Norwich City.  A sixth consecutive derby defeat followed and we are now left needing points, not promise.  We have seen 45 encouraging minutes here or 40 encouraging minutes there.  We have a "we were miles better than those until the ref intervened" chip to try to cash in at the cage when all 38 matches are played.  It seems as likely as not that this kind of chip, however, is not redeemable for Premier League points and all the moral victories and encouraging performances and "man we were the best team on the pitch" will come to naught.  There are no bonus points for these matches.  There are 3 point matches, 1 point matches and 0 point matches.  At this point, we are one victory and correlating results (Bournemouth and Norwich losses) from 16th.  There is already another victory's worth of points to Chelsea in 15th.  If we want to shoot for the stars and achieve a comfortable mid-table finish to this year, we as a club and a fan base are going to stop trading in encouraging signs and progress and start dealing in what will actually count when the season is over and we're looking back at the table.  Results.