Fulham may be below us in the table as things stand, but everything about them now screams of a side who are both capable and confident of survival.
Given how desperate the mood is on Tyneside, with so many of us now resigned to relegation, I reached out to Fulham fan James Redpath to get a view from South London on the battle for survival, Steve Bruce and the contrasting directions both sides are currently heading in.
Here’s what he had to say in our chat on all of the above:
Q1: After results went your way over the weekend, we are now the favourites to go down along with West Brom and Sheffield United. Would you agree with the bookies on that one?
“In a word – yes.
“We are now turning good performances into good results. Meanwhile, you have had a few promising displays since the new coach came in to help Bruce but that hasn’t resulted in many points.
“The West Brom game isn’t an example of that as I watched it and you were awful and could’ve easily lost in the end, but I saw you play some decent stuff against the likes of Palace, Wolves and Man Utd…yet you came away with no wins to show for it.
“That was us a few months ago but now the roles have reversed and we have momentum.
“I also feel like our players are stepping up when it matters. Areola is a top goalkeeper, Andersen has galvanised or defence, our midfield is full of energy and the likes of Lookman and Loftus-Cheek give us dynamism in attack.
“We don’t have a 15-goal striker like you do in Callum Wilson, but it feels like we have a plan, a hunger and belief – and that trumps the odd bit of individual brilliance Bruce seems to rely on.”
Q2: What do you make of Steve Bruce, the fact he’s still in a job and his ability to save us from relegation up against an inexperienced but hungry Scott Parker?
“I saw a stat over the weekend saying you’ve won just two games in your last 18 games.
“That in itself didn’t shock me as you’ve been abysmal from the festive period onwards…but the fact Bruce is still in a job after such a disastrous run of form did!
“One thing that stands out about Scotty Parker is his unwavering belief in his players, his passion and confidence that we will find a way out of this.
“The players bounce off that and our recent form proves why he’s always remained confident.
“On the flip side, I look at Steve Bruce and hear him throwing his players under the bus after games, talking up the opposition not his own players, being in the centre of ‘bust-ups’ and seeming pretty content with a point at West Brom just hours before we went an got all three at Anfield!
“Sorry to say this, but every time I hear him speak, I feel more confident Fulham will stay up at your expense.”
Q3: Based on upcoming fixtures and the other clubs still in and around the relegation battle, do you think there’s a chance we both survive?
“For me, Brighton are the only team who might just crumble.
“People keep saying how good they are to watch, but they’re like we were not long ago…playing nicely but not picking up points!
“I think they might follow in our footsteps and quickly turn those performances into big results, but with Southampton and Newcastle their next two fixtures, it may be a case of now or never before their confidence levels implode.
“As for us, we’ve been boosted by recent results but I’m still wary of the fact Newcastle have a game in hand.
“We also play Man City next. I expect us to lose that, meaning you have a big chance to extend the gap if you can get the better of Aston Villa and/or Brighton.
“Saying that, I watched you on Sunday and don’t see you beating either if Wilson, Almiron and Saint-Maximin are still injured for those games.”
Sadly, I imagine most Newcastle fans will agree with the vast majority of James’ comments here, with his comparison between Bruce and Parker being the most damning for me.
A big thanks to James for taking the time to speak with us. It looks unlikely at present, but let’s hope BOTH of our clubs are Premier League teams when the full-time whistle goes at Craven Cottage on May 23rd!