The FA Cup can provide a welcome escape for Newcastle United

The Toon visit Watford this weekend in the FA Cup third round, hoping a win can change fortunes elsewhere.

Steve McClaren’s side are currently in the relegation zone and are hoping to overcome a dreadful FA Cup record, which has seen the club dumped out at the third round stage in four of the past five years.

Meanwhile ninth-placed Watford will be looking to pile more misery on the North-East club and halt their run of two home defeats on the bounce.

Newcastle are desperate for some joy and a good cup run could see the club’s loyal but disenchanted Geordies back onside again, as well as providing a platform for league results to improve.

The Magpies need only to look at Aston Villa last year, who seemed certain to face relegation from the Premier League before an unlikely cup run saved their season. With the introduction of manager Tim Sherwood in February 2015, a 2-1 win against Leicester City in the FA Cup sixth round provided the Villans with a first win in nearly two months.

Sherwood guided Villa to the FA Cup final with morale boosting wins over West Brom and Liverpool, which reflected in their league form, picking up 16 points from March onwards to keep them in the top flight.

With two league games at St. James’ Park to follow, a positive result at Vicarage Road could finally kick start Newcastle’s 2016 after disappointing losses to West Brom and Arsenal.

After fielding a mixed side that lost against essentially a second-string Sheffield Wednesday side in the league cup fourth round, McClaren knows the pressure is on him to play his strongest XI this Saturday.

And with the Daily Mail reporting that winning the FA Cup would see the 54-year-old earn an eight-year contract, there is an added incentive for the Newcastle manager to guide his team through the competition.

A loss may allow The Toon to focus on the Premier League, but with momentum so hard to achieve when sitting in the bottom three, Newcastle will take any positive result they can.

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