Newcastle brilliance, or Manchester United malaise? Eddie Howe can break records on Wednesday night

Newcastle United can finish above Manchester United for the first time since 1977 with a point at Old Trafford - barring a 26-goal-difference swing

The halcyon days of 1977. Britain was on its knees but UEFA Cup qualification offered hope in the bleakest of times for Newcastle United supporters. 

Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her Silver Jubilee, the Ford Fiesta went on sale and Abba were tearing up the charts. Not a smartphone was in sight and the idea of the internet was a futuristic conception a thousand years from reality.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

From a sporting perspective, Liverpool won the first of their six European Cups. They also continued their domestic dominance with a 10th league title - pipping Manchester City by a solitary point.

Newcastle, reeling from losing Malcolm Macdonald the previous summer, achieved the unthinkable: finishing above Manchester United. Any Geordie under the age of 47 has not been alive long enough to witness Newcastle finishing above the Red Devils.

That highlights the Magpies’ barren years just as much as it does Man United’s supremacy. Sir Alex Ferguson’s intuition would soon dethrone Liverpool as English football’s omnipotent force and Newcastle, barring a brief spell in the 90s and early noughties, stagnated.

Football, however, is cyclical. A decade on from Ferguson’s retirement, Man United’s malaise is stark. They are milquetoast; a weak, easily-beatable side on course for their worst-ever Premier League season.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

By contrast, Newcastle, the awoken Premier League giant, are on the charge. Backed by Saudi Arabian wealth, the Magpies are going in one direction following 14 years of apathy. Three points at Old Trafford on Wednesday will ensure their fourth consecutive win over Erik ten Hag’s side.

For context, Newcastle have not claimed four in a row against Man United since they changed their name from Newton Heath. But only a draw is needed for the Magpies to guarantee finishing above the Red Devils for the first time since 1977.

Deja vu has struck - with the UK going through the wringer again. On the pitch, Newcastle finished fifth and Man United sixth that year.

The less said about the following year the better, with Newcastle amassing their worst-ever points tally. But a UEFA Cup campaign awaited and tomorrow night, Eddie Howe can take a colossal stride towards qualifying for its modern-day incarnation.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Putting Man United, a club that has inflicted insurmountable pain on Toon supporters over the years, will make the feat that little bit sweeter. The Red Devils could be forced to sit on the Premier League periphery should, as an entire region hopes, Newcastle’s takeover delivers its promise.

Related topics:

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.