Magpies looking to join 100-point club
IF Newcastle United avoid defeat at Plymouth Argyle tonight they will head back to the Premier League as the Championship title winners and there is a burning desire in Chris Hughton's squad to finish the job in style. The Magpies are top of the division on 95 points but, with three matches remaining, full-back Ryan Taylor wants the crop of 2010 to become only the fourth club to join the Championship's 100-point club. To do that United need at least a point from Home Park, which would be sufficient to guarantee the presentation of the Football League trophy at St James' Park on Saturday after the match with Ipswich. That is the ideal ending for Hughton and his players, but Newcastle face a fight with Sky Sports, who are trying to insist that, should the league be won tonight, the silverware is presented in front of their own cameras rather than the home fans. There's no way we will ease off. It's not a bunch of lads that will slack off because we're promoted, said Ryan Taylor. We want to be crowned champions and we want to do it because we've won a game not because someone else has dropped points. The lads also want to break the 100 point barrier and those sort of things do matter to us. It's a massive achievement. Before the season started it was just promotion that we wanted but now we've got that, it'd be a massive disappointment if we didn't go up as champions. West Brom's win over Middlesbrough extended the wait, but it does seem inevitable, with six points still separating the two automatically promoted teams, Newcastle will be champions. The Baggies may hope for a boost because of the enforced changes to Newcastle's travel arrangements. The Newcastle squad made the arduous journey down to the South-West on the team coach yesterday, after being told they can't fly because of the ongoing problems with the ash cloud from an Icelandic volcano. As you can imagine, it's a bit of a nightmare, added Ryan Taylor. With three games to go after a long season it's probably the last thing we wanted to do. But when you read about what it can do to planes, I'd rather be on the ground than in the air. We usually fly everywhere even when we go to the Midlands, so it's probably a bit of a novelty for some of the lads. Eight and a half hours on a coach isn't many people's idea of a good time. It is harsh to think Hughton's position as Newcastle boss continues to be questioned in some quarters ahead of the club's return to the Premier League. That, though, is exactly what the former Tottenham coach is having to deal with. But Hughton said: The only thing that matters is I'm the person in this position and I'm the manager of this football club. Everyone will have different opinions. Such dignity deserves applauding and he is satisfied his reserved approach to life in the Newcastle hot-seat will help him in the long term. All I can do is do the best I can and do the best I can will hopefully give this club further achievements, he said. This season it was to achieve promotion, which was the aim. That's all I can do. Everyone works in different ways. The only thing a manager will be judged on will be what he achieves. He will not be judged on personalities, he will be judged on what he achieves. We are at a club, a high profile club, and that is something I have got used to. I have accepted it and it goes with the territory. It's always going to be a news club because what we have in the city, the press we have in the city. After leading Newcastle to the top of the Championship, Hughton now wants to see his players finish life outside the Premier League with victories over Plymouth, Ipswich and QPR. It's about professionalism and momentum going into these last three games, and also it's targets, he said. The biggest target we had this season, we have already achieved, which is gaining promotion. What we would like to do is win this division now. Around that there are also personal targets for the players, scoring goals and making appearances. We also haven't lost at home this season and it would be a wonderful achievement to go through a whole season without losing a football match at your home stadium. NEWCASTLE (probable 4-4-2): Harper; Simpson, Williamson, Hall, Enrique; Routledge, Nolan, Guthrie, Gutierrez; Lovenkrands, Carroll.
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