Newcastle’s comeback against Norwich must install title belief
In the ornithological battle for Championship supremacy waged at St James’ Park on Wednesday night, it was the Magpies that silenced the Canaries song as Newcastle struck twice in stoppage time to turn defeat into victory, leaving Norwich stunned.
With the game seemingly in the bag, even the concession of an equaliser would have been a blow for Alex Neil’s visitors’ owing to the 3-1 lead they had forged away from home.
But given the manner in which Rafa Benitez’s hosts rallied when seemingly defeated with just 20 minutes left on the clock, it feels like it could be the first seminal moment in the Championship title race.
Although Huddersfield continue to defy expectations at the sharp end of the table, it would be surprising if the strength of their respective squads, still brimming with Premier League quality players, do not see one of Newcastle or Norwich prevail at the end of the marathon season.
Having delivered such a forceful sucker punch in their initial 2016/17 bout which takes the Geordies within a point of the second-place Canaries, and just three off the Terriers pace, the market certainly favours Benitez’s charges.
Newcastle are the 6/5 favourites to be crowned Championship winners in May, Norwich are next at 3/1 and even perennial play-off merchants Brighton, at 6/1, are ahead of leaders Huddersfield at 12s.
After seeing his team display the desire to claw their way back from the abyss, Benitez was clearly hugely encouraged.
“I am the kind of manager who gets excited, but especially inside because I am really proud when I see the team reacting. I am really proud of them,” he said.
“Some people will jump or run or whatever, but I am happy inside because I think it’s something that’s difficult to achieve.”
This result, and the nature of it, must be seen as a very encouraging step to achieving the ultimate goal of immediate promotion back to the Premier League.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing