Thank goodness for the Capital One Cup.
I can't remember the last time a Cup run meant so much to salvaging a season, but it looks like it's the only thing for Newcastle United in 2015-16.
There was a poll released by the Newcastle Chronicle (I think it was the Chronicle) that asked a simple question: If fans had the choice between fighting relegation but enjoying a long cup run and having a chance to play at Wembley OR being knocked out of the Cups but finishing comfortably in mid-table, what would you choose?
At first glance I wanted choice B. I did not feel like freaking out every Saturday and Sunday until May to find out whether my team was going to stay in the premiership.
On further reflection, it would be nice to enjoy a long cup run.
Well ... Newcastle United definitely has the first part of option A down well. It looks like it will be a frustrating league campaign watching the lads struggle at the bottom of the table. But if NUFC can deliver an afternoon at Wembley, I think every fan in black and white could shoulder the burden of a poor league season.
That means winning today against Sheffield Wednesday. Wednesday currently sit in 14th place in the Sky Bet Championship standings with 9 points after 2 wins, 3 draws and 3 losses while scoring 10 goals and allowing 12.
In the last round, Sheffield Wednesday eked out a 1-0 victory over Oxford United while Newcastle blitzed Northampton Town 4-1 on goals from Florian Thauvin, Siem De Jong, Daryl Janmaat and finally Mike Williamson. The match was at home and 26,923 roared on the Magpies at St. James Park.
The home venue draw is significant because Sheffield Wednesday have played 10 matches this season, but have yet to win a single one away from Hillsborough.
But unlike Newcastle United, Sheffield will actually be bringing in some good feelings a momentum to this match after stopping a three-match winless drought by defeating Fulham 3-2 on Saturday.
Newcastle and manager Steve McClaren will take anything positive he can get following Saturday's dismal 2-1 loss to Watford, which was preceded by an even worse performance midweek in a 2-0 loss to West Ham at Upton Park.
"The fans have been fantastic. Again, it is the kind of thing as a supporter with what's happened, blind faith is needed, a bit of blind faith and belief that we will eventually get it right, turn it around and win some games," McCaren was quoted in an ESPN.com piece. "We need that from the club as a whole."
If McClaren is to bring back the winning feeling to Tyneside, he will have to do it without his two first-choice strikers, midfielder and left back.
- Papiss Cisse, the misfiring longtime striker, has a back issue, which might explain why he was hooked after the first half in the loss to Watford. although his overall play probably had something to do with it also.
- Aleksandar Mitrovic, the big signing Serbian striker, is serving the final of his three-game ban for a red card against Arsenal.
- Jack Colback, the first choice all season as holding midfielder, picked up a knock according to McClaren in Tuesday's press conference.
- Massaido Haidara, the first choice all season as left back, picked up a knock according to McClaren.