Tim Krul reveals his big hope for Newcastle
The Championship's tough. It always has been.
And this season, the division’s tougher than ever.
Ninety points, which has, up to now, guaranteed promotion might be not enough to secure a place in the Premier League.
Newcastle United – who lead the division with 77 points – suffered a setback at the weekend when they lost at home to Fulham.
The defeat followed impressive away victories over Brighton and Hove Albion and Huddersfield Town and a draw at Reading.
The Championship is as unpredictable as it is unforgiving.
Tim Krul was part of the team that won promotion six years ago.
The 28-year-old, on loan at AZ Alkmaar, made his league debut for the club in the division.
And the goalkeeper is hopeful that Newcastle can maintain their progress over the coming weeks under the guidence of Rafa Benitez, who has refused to look beyond the club’s next game all season.
“It’s a really tough division,” said Krul.
“It looks like we’re doing the right thing and taking it game by game.
“There are so many hard games, and two of the most important ones were against Brighton and Huddersfield. They got through the big test.
“They’ve got to continue for a few more weeks, and hopefully they’ll secure promotion.”
If – and it remains a big “if” – United can win promotion, Krul believes the spirit and togetherness forged in the division could make all the difference in the Premier League going forward.
That was the case for the class of 2009-10, who finished fifth in the Premier League – and qualified for the Europa League – two years later.
“The thing is as well, it (promotion) kind of sets you up for next season as well,” said Krul, signed from Dutch club Den Haag in 2005.
“I remember the first year we got back. You build on that spirit.
“We finished 12th in the first season and fifth in the second one.
“I think the spirit of the team is showing.”
Krul – who spent the first half of the campaign on loan at Ajax – has been an avid viewer this season.
“There are so many games and I can follow them, because the games are on here as well,” he added.
Krul could only watch in frustration as Newcastle fought to stay in the Premier League last season.
He suffered a season-ending knee injury playing in a Euro 2016 qualifier for Holland two months into the campaign and could only offer encouragement from the sidelines.
However, Krul – who has another year on his United contract – has had a happier time this term watching from the other side of the North Sea.
Reflecting on last season, Krul said: “It was horrible.
“Obviously, I got injured in October. There was still a lot to play for.
“You can’t help. Even though you try to help with words, it’s the 11 players who start that have to do it.
“That was hard, especially as I’ve been at the club for 11 years.
“That’s tough. We started the season well, and then it didn’t happen.
“Things are looking brighter now, especially after the wins over Brighton and Huddersfield. It’s nice to see.
“Hopefully, they’ll be back in the Premier League. That’s what needs to be done.”