Can Newcastle United win the Europa League?
The Europa League is a competition which upon reflection Newcastle could really do without, given the effect it has had on their Premier League season.
The Thursday night fixtures have left a usually knackered squad for games on Sundays against teams who have had an entire week's rest behind them.
The increased number of matches have placed an inordinate amount of pressure on a squad thin on top quality, with replacements like Gabriel Obertan and Vurnon Anita unconvincing.
Players have aggravated injuries as a result, while Ryan Taylor even suffered a season ending knee problem back in August in the competition.
Alan Pardew was frank when speaking about the competition in light of their 4-0 mauling by Manchester City.
He said: "We’ve lost bodies in our European campaign.
“It’s cost us points and without a shadow of a doubt we would not be in this position if we were not in the Europa League.
“There are too many games in that competition. I’m never going to change my opinion on that, even if we win the bloody thing.
“It needs to be looked at. We’ve lost too many players through injury.”
Newcastle are as a result dragged right into the relegation mire, three points above Aston Villa in 18th place.
But providing they do manage to avoid the drop, would winning the Europa League make it all worthwhile?
While Pardew may not feel so, and a year's worth of busy travel schedules, injury, and stress will be the basis of his argument, if Newcastle do win the competition surely it will be.
The last major trophy Newcastle won was the Fairs Cup back in 1969 or the FA Cup back in 1955. With silverware at a premium they should not be having second thoughts now about going full throttle to win the cup.
Clearly Newcastle have to balance their priorities - staying up is more important, but they need to aim to do both. Their performance and last minute against Anzhi was inspiring in the last round, and now in the quarter-finals have a real chance.
Chelsea and Tottenham are also clearly threats, but ones they have avoided. Instead Newcastle face Benfica, who top of the Portuguese League are in the kind of form the Magpies wish they were in.
It won't be easy, but if the Toon do go onto win the competition, their troubles this Premier League campaign will all surely have been worthwhile.
Newcastle fans what do you think of the Europa League and the club's chances?
image: © mickyb59