Although technically the fate of Newcastle United remains in the hands of the players, many fans have reluctantly accepted that their beloved club will only remain in the Premier League if a certain result goes their way elsewhere this Sunday during the final day of the season. If Newcastle manage a win against West Ham. they will stay in England’s top football league, but seeing as it has been nearly 3 months since they last took maximum points from a game, you can understand why confidence remains low on Tyneside.
Chelsea have already secured the title, Burnley and QPR are already relegated and the rest of the Premier League teams have nothing left to play for, with the European spots already 99% confirmed. That means there will only be two games on Sunday where anything of significant importance (apart from pride and the desire to finish the season with a win, two things that NUFC seem to lack) is up for grabs – and that is a place in the 2015/16 Premier League fixture list.
Hull City will host Manchester United at the KC Stadium, knowing that 3 points is the only thing that will give them any hope of avoiding the drop to the Championship. The Tigers have never won a Premier League game during the month of May and have lost all 7 previous encounters against the Red Devils.
However, many pundits are saying they would rather be in the position of Hull City than Newcastle – which just goes to show how badly the Magpies have been performing of late. Hull’s superior goal difference means that only a win for Newcastle United will guarantee safety for the Toon Army. A draw against West Ham combined with a win for Hull would mean a return to the Championship.
With so much resting on the Hull v Manchester United game, fans have been understandably anxious to discover whether or not Louis Van Gaal will play a strong team and look to finish with win on the final day. In theory, they could still secure 3rd place and an automatic place in next season’s Champions League, without the need to go through the preliminary qualification stage that the 4th placed team will have to endure. However, this is unlikely as it would require Arsenal to lose at home to West Brom and Manchester United to overturn a goal difference that currently favours the Gunners by 7.
Will Manchester United do Newcastle a favour and send Hull down to the Championship with a resounding victory at the KC Stadium? Some have suggested that Manchester United would love to see Newcastle get relegated and have already given up hope of securing the seemingly out-of-reach 3rd spot. Others argue that Louis Van Gaal is the ultimate professional and would always go for the win, regardless of the impact it has elsewhere in the league.
This clip from his pre-match press conference yesterday seems to support the latter argument…
His words will be music to the ears of Newcastle fans who doubted whether Manchester United would field a full strength team. Van Gaal also suggested that his team would offer no favour to Hull manager Steve Bruce, who is of course a Manchester United legend.
One concern, however, is the fact that the Dutchman repeatedly mentions that his team have not been very successful on their travels during the 2014/15 season. This is indeed true, but hopefully things will change this Sunday and they will finish on a winning note, leaving the result at St James’ Park to be irrelevant.