Magpies clicking into an extra gear
AFTER another weekend spent bullying hapless opponents at St James’ Park, Newcastle United may have landed a psychological blow to one of the pretenders for the title they covet.
For some time now, the Championship title race has looked like a three-way contest between West Bromwich Albion, Nottingham Forest and the Magpies.
But now the manager of one of those sides, West Brom’s Roberto Di Matteo, admits Newcastle could be out of sight by April.
Acknowledging what is becoming a widely-held view, the manager of arguably the division’s best football side believes Chris Hughton’s men have an “extra gear” compared to their rivals.
After surrendering the 10-point lead built up by December, United have entered March having almost rebuilt it although West Brom’s 1-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday last night keeps them six points behind the Magpies.
And Newcastle’s form appears to have sown seeds of doubt in the mind of former Chelsea midfielder Di Matteo.
“I have been saying for a while now that it is probably going to go down to the last few games,” he said. “But I think this month will probably be decisive in terms of Newcastle pulling away or not. If you look at their squad they have a gear more than anyone else.”
The Baggies have no further chances to disrupt Newcastle’s momentum, having drawn both league meetings between the pair. Before last night’s matches Forest were the only top-six side United were yet to face. They meet in a televised St James’ clash on March 29.
In a league praised for the unpredictability of its results, the destination of this season’s title is looking increasingly inevitable.