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Premier League fans’ verdicts – the run-in, part 2: Newcastle United to West Ham

Mood among fans? Near desolate, with just Rafa keeping some hope in the hearts of supporters.


We’re running out of matches and our lack of firepower will probably prove our undoing. Simply put, we’ll need a miracle to survive.

Manager? It’s too early to judge him on performances, but Rafa’s appointment has excited the fans and he boasts the calibre and gravitas that the club deserves. His departure will make relegation feel even crueller, as we’ll be left thinking what could have been if he’d been given a few more games to turn things around.

Shining lights? Rob Elliot has proved invaluable and Chancel Mbemba has been an excellent acquisition, while January arrivals Andros Townsend and Jonjo Shelvey have at least injected some spirit into a listless squad. Ayoze Pérez could have played an important part too, if he’d been given more game time.

Unimpressed? A collective lack of passion, ability and guile makes it difficult to pick on anyone in particular, but Moussa Sissoko deserves special mention for his lacklustre displays in crucial games. Champions League? He’s having a laugh.

Finish? 19th. Why? Keeping faith with Steve McClaren for far too long, no defenders recruited in January leaving us threadbare at the back, the lack of Premier League class up front, a long-term transfer policy that is fatally flawed …

Predictions Top 4 Leicester, Tottenham, Arsenal, Man United. Bottom 3 Norwich, Newcastle, Aston Villa.

Run-in 2 Apr Norwich A 9 Apr Southampton A 16 Apr Swansea H 19 Apr Man City H 23 Apr Liverpool A 30 Apr Crystal Palace H 7 May Aston Villa A 15 May Tottenham H


Mood among fans? A worthy draw against Man City and the win at The Hawthorns have lifted spirits immeasurably at a time when the belief of many was starting to wane. Two weeks ago the tunnel was pitch black; now there’s a glimmer of light to be seen, especially with our two main relegation rivals still having to come to Carrow Road.

Manager? Alex Neil has made mistakes and the learning curve has been a steep one, but, of late, he has rediscovered his mojo. But there is more than a little something about him and even if the worst were to happen he is the man to take us forward.

Shining lights? Robbie Brady and Jonny Howson have been at the forefront of all that has been good and will be fighting it out for the PotS trophy. And recently, January signing Timm Klose has proved to be a positive influence on a back four that had been plagued with inconsistency and individual errors.

Unimpressed? Neither Youssouf Mulumbu nor Graham Dorrans – two signings from West Brom – have been able to have the impact they, or we, had hoped.

Finish? It all boils down to our upcoming home games against Newcastle and Sunderland, but this is no time to be timid (or overly honest), so I’m clinging to the belief we can scramble to 17th.

Predictions Top 4 Leicester, Tottenham, Arsenal, West Ham. Bottom 3 Sunderland, Newcastle, Aston Villa.

Run-in 2 Apr Newcastle H 9 Apr Crystal Palace A 16 Apr Sunderland H 30 Apr Arsenal A 7 May Man United H 11 May Watford H 15 May Everton A


Mood among fans? Very good after back-to-back wins against direct rivals for a European place and that extraordinary comeback against Liverpool last Sunday. Our run-in is likely to be tough, with games against teams in the top five and bottom five and very little in between, so not many games against opponents with nothing to play for.

Manager? Koeman has an unerring ability to make a significant change to the system that halts a slump in form and in that regard he’s a massive step up from any manager we’ve had in my lifetime. A massive thumbs up from me.

Shining lights? Virgil van Dijk has proved to be an excellent signing, almost to the extent that losing Toby Alderweireld to Spurs hasn’t been noticed too much (had he not excelled there). Of the players who were here previously, Shane Long has been superb and added more of a goal threat to the team attributes he brings.

Unimpressed? Two players linked with moves away, Victor Wanyama and Sadio Mané, have largely been letdowns. Wanyama seems to turn it on only in big games and his attitude and discipline has been atrocious in other games. Mané just seems to have been lacking a bit of confidence.

Finish? Fifth. West Ham are in good enough form to keep above us and Man United will probably eke out enough results even if they don’t play well.

Predictions Top 4 Leicester, Tottenham, Arsenal, Man City. Bottom 3 Norwich, Newcastle, Aston Villa.

Run-in 3 Apr Leicester A 9 Apr Newcastle H 16 Apr Everton A 23 Apr Aston Villa A 1 May Man City H 7 May Tottenham A 15 May Crystal Palace H


Mood among fans? On the whole it is one of total excitement. It is, without a doubt, the best team in a generation and it is genuinely exciting knowing that on our day we are capable of tearing apart the best teams in the country. There is a reason that we aren’t running away with the league and that’s consistency – you just don’t know what you are going to get from one week to the next and that is where there is a slight degree of frustration.

Manager? Mark Hughes is doing really, really well. I sometimes wish he would fly a little lower under the radar as it would be a real body blow to lose him in the summer. He has transformed the image of the club in the past three seasons

Shining lights? I could make a case for virtually every single player. From Butland between the sticks, Wollscheid at the back through to Imbula bossing the midfield and moving forward to the magician that is Affelay to Arnautović, who has transformed from Mr Inconsistent to Mr Consistent.

Unimpressed? I really can’t make a case for a player that has left me unimpressed, every one has given their all this campaign. The only minor gripe I have with the club at the moment is their seeming reluctance to expand the stadium.

Finish? 9th.

Predictions Top 4 Leicester, Tottenham, Arsenal, Man United. Bottom 3 Norwich, Sunderland, Aston Villa.

Run-in 2 Apr Swansea H 10 Apr Liverpool A 18 Apr Tottenham H 24 Apr Man City A 30 Apr Sunderland H 7 May Crystal Palace A 15 May West Ham H


Mood among fans? It is looking a wee bit grim. Our inability to hold a lead at Southampton and Newcastle may well do for us. The next three games (West Brom and Leicester at home and Norwich away) will define the level we play at next season. Seven points is the minimum - and that includes a win at Carrow Road. This fan is worried.

Manager? He has done well with the poor materials he was confronted with when he arrived. The players he brought in the January window have improved us, but poor recruitment in the summer (M’Vila excepted) has made it very difficult. Sometimes Allardyce is a tad too cautious, but the positives far outweigh any negatives.

Shining lights? Jan Kirchhoff has been outstanding since he arrived in January and so has Lamine Koné. Had they been with us in August, we would not be in this mess. Vito Mannone has justified his No1 spot and Jermain Defoe continues to be a threat. Yann M’Vila has been a good player and also a well-behaved boy.

Unimpressed? Some are just not good enough but Jeremain Lens is and has not really shown it. Jack Rodwell underwhelmed until recently, but has been much more involved recently. We are playing some decent football - shame we can’t close a game out.

Finish? I hope for 17th. Note the word hope.

Predictions Top 4 Tottenham, Leicester, Arsenal, Man City. Bottom 3 Crystal Palace, Newcastle, Aston Villa.

Run-in 2 Apr West Brom H 10 Apr Leicester H 16 Apr Norwich A 24 Apr Arsenal H 30 Apr Stoke A 7 May Chelsea H 11 May Everton H 15 May Watford A


Mood among fans? It’s been a season to forget. A change of manager wasn’t expected before the midway point as the board and fans were hopeful of something similar to last year’s eighth place. It was the complete opposite. Entertaining performances from us have been very few and far between and we will breathe a huge sigh of relief when the season’s over and we’re still a Premier League club.

Manager? Guidolin has come in and done what was asked of him – simply to keep us up. He wasn’t asked to deliver good, attacking and entertaining football – it’s been anything but. Some have criticised our poor performances under the Italian, but he, along with Curtis’s guidance, has tightened up the team.

Shining lights? You can always rely on Leon Britton to put in 100% effort and desire when it is really needed. Curtis brought him back into the team when Monk was sacked and he helped us get back to our passing game. Gylfi Sigurdsson’s goalscoring form has also played a huge part in our recent results.

Unimpressed? Ki and Gomis haven’t performed, and you wonder whether Angel Rangel has another season in him.

Finish? 15th. It would an incredible achievement to finish above Crystal Palace, the way our season has gone.

Predictions Top 4 Leicester, Tottenham, Arsenal, Man City. Bottom 3 Norwich, Newcastle, Aston Villa.

Run-in 2 Apr Stoke A 9 Apr Chelsea H 16 Apr Newcastle A 24 Apr Leicester A 30 Apr Liverpool H 7 May West Ham A 15 May Man City H


Mood among fans? Lots of jaunty confidence before Sunday’s 3-0 win. “We’re gonna win the league by two points ... by goal difference ... by early next month ...” were typically blithe predictions. I’m not so sure. There are quite a few games coming up that we traditionally fail to win: Liverpool away, Man Utd at home, Chelsea away. And we never do finish above Arsenal.

Manager? Pochettino has been fantastic. Rarely have I seen players improve so much and all at the same time. We have scored the most and conceded the fewest, which proves he has got it right throughout the team. The spirit is exceptional. Several managers have said Spurs are the best team they’ve played this season and he must take the credit for that.

Shining lights? The lights have shone on several players but the main spot should be fixed on Alderweireld . His anticipation, tackling, distribution, all-round awareness have been staggering.

Unimpressed? It is surprising how low Bentaleb has fallen in the pecking order. Whenever he has played, his passing has been dangerously sloppy.

Finish? Given my experience of Spurs over the years, we’ll finish third. I don’t see much depth of squad in midfield or attack. If we have to replace Dembélé, Alli, Dier, Kane with Mason, Carroll, Son, Chadli we become much weaker. Witness the West Ham and Dortmund games.

Predictions Top 4 Leicester, Arsenal, Tottenham, Man United. Bottom 3 Norwich, Newcastle, Aston Villa.

Run-in 2 Apr Liverpool A 10 Apr Man United H 18 Apr Stoke A 25 Apr West Brom H 2 May Chelsea A 7 May Southampton H 15 May Newcastle A


Mood among fans? No group of supporters ever agree about anything. At the moment there is competition from the Good (we’re probably safe and had a great start to the season), the Bad (we’re only probably safe despite the great start to the season) and the C’moooooorrrrn (Palace in the semi-final).

Manager? He’s taken a side that nobody noticed get promoted, changed the style of play entirely, incorporated a huge number of new players, got us into mid-table more-or-less safeness and still looks cool. What’s not to like?

Shining lights? A number of players have impressed – Odion Ighalo, perhaps, more startlingly during some periods of the season than others. The nailed on successes have been Heurelho Gomes – a great keeper and a huge personality, Miguel Britos and Craig Cathcart – elegant, precise centre-backs, Ben Watson – the general at the back of the midfield. And Troy Deeney, obviously.

Unimpressed? With such a large influx of players it was inevitable that some wouldn’t click straight away. Obbi Oularé and Steven Berghuis have yet to establish themselves … Both are younger players and neither has been afforded much of an opportunity to fail to impress.

Finish? Higher than any time since 1987.

Predictions Top 4 “Come on” Leicester, Arsenal, Tottenham, Man City. Bottom 3 Norwich, Newcastle, Aston Villa.

Run-in 2 Apr Arsenal A 9 Apr Everton H 16 Apr West Brom A 20 Apr West Ham A 30 Apr Aston Villa H 7 May Liverpool A 11 May Norwich A 15 May Sunderland H


Mood among fans? The feeling is we are safe with very little to play for but trying to beat our highest points total since the Premier League started, which would be a good achievement given the mess Pulis took over and is still battling with.

Manager? Mixed feelings. While Pulis has done well to get us to where we are, it is very often difficult to watch. The hope is that he will add some creativity to our undoubted excellent organisation and professionalism and make next year more entertaining.

Shining lights? Jonny Evans has been fantastic, one of the best signings for anyone in the division. Darren Fletcher has led us well on and off the pitch. Pulis has also made Craig Dawson a consistent and very good full-back.

Unimpressed? Saido Berahino has some way to go to make up for his stubborn reaction to not getting a move last summer. His attitude has improved of late, but he has let himself and the club down this season and wasted his undoubted talent.

Finish? I reckoned 14th at the start of the season and I still feel that is where we will end up.

Predictions Top 4 Leicester, Tottenham, Arsenal, Man United. Bottom 3 Norwich, Newcastle, Aston Villa.

Run-in 2 Apr Sunderland A 9 Apr Man City A 16 Apr Watford H 21 Apr Arsenal A 25 Apr Tottenham A 30 Apr West Ham H 7 May Bournemouth A 15 May Liverpool H


Mood among fans? It’s incredibly positive, typified by the whole ground singing, “We’ve got Payet!” A long unbeaten run at home, some great away performances at the big teams, the nostalgia of leaving the Boleyn Ground and luncheons at Ken’s Café have all contributed to the feelgood factor. Incredibly, we’re still in with a chance of Champions League qualification and if we can beat Man United, we’re in the semi-final of the FA Cup at Wembley.

Manager? Super Slaven Bilic, a cavalier to Sam Allardyce’s respect-the-point roundhead, has united the club and appeals to the fans’ sense of romance. He’s instilled a real sense of positivity and away from home we now go to Man United and Chelsea thinking we can win.

Shining lights? In case you just don’t understand, we’ve got Payet, Dimitri Payet — a world-class player who could get in anyone’s team. Lanzini has produced skill and goals, while Michail Antonio works tremendously hard and has scored some invaluable goals. The underrated (at least by Hodgson) Mark Noble has had a great season, while Aaron Cresswell is a superb crosser and deserves an England call-up.

Unimpressed? For once, no one has really underperformed, which, for a West Ham fan, is a very strange sensation.

Finish? Fifth (though hoping for fourth!)

Predictions Top 4 Leicester, Tottenham, Arsenal, Man City. Bottom 3 Norwich, Newcastle, Aston Villa.

Run-in 2 Apr Crystal Palace H 9 Apr Arsenal H 17 Apr Leicester A 20 Apr Watford H 30 Apr West Brom A 7 May Swansea H 10 May Man United H 15 May Stoke A

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Observer fans' network, for The Observer on Sunday 27th March 2016 10.00 Europe/London

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


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