Promotion alone will not do for Newcastle, it’s the title or bust - Karl Darlow

Karl Darlow makes a save for Newcastle
Karl Darlow makes a save for Newcastle

Second place is first loser for Newcastle keeper Karl Darlow.

While promotion remains the ultimate aim for Rafa Benitez’s United, finishing the season without the Championship title would spell failure, according to the former Nottingham Forest goalie.

The Magpies travel to league leaders Brighton tonight knowing that a win would put the race to the Championship title back in their own hands.

While three draws in their next trio of games against promotion rivals the Seagulls, Huddersfield and Reading would be an acceptable return for many, Darlow says Newcastle can not look at it like that.

He says nothing but victory will be good enough. And that goes for the campaign as a whole, too.

“Three draws would not be bad results for us but we can’t afford to look at it that way, We go into every game trying to win it. You’ve got to have that attitude,” he said.

“Brighton is a tough game but that’s our mindset. We know if we play proper football and play very well, we can come away from there very happy.”

When asked whether second place come May 7 would be a disappointing return, despite the fact it would bring Premier League football back to SJP, Darlow said: “There’d certainly be a feeling of disappointment.

“We’re a team of winners and we want to come first.

“We know it is a tough division and every game is tough. Even going to Burton, we only won by the odd goal, that just shows how tough it is. But at the start of season, our aim was to win this league and that remains the aim.”

As far as weeks go they don’t come any tougher than the one that United are set to face from this evening outside of the top flight.

Darlow says it’s the biggest week of his footballing career to date.

The 26-year-old continued: “It’s possibly one of the biggest weeks of my career.

“It’s one of them where we know what is needed to get out of this league.

“The way the fixtures have fallen, we’re up against three top teams all of whom have their own hopes for the season.

“But we must take a positive approach to it and make sure we’re still in the top two after it.”

It’s fair to say the last few weeks have not been straightforward for Darlow.

He took criticism for the equaliser that meant Newcastle dropped points against QPR. He also, rightly so, shouldered the flak for his error at Norwich.

Again on Saturday, Darlow’s error of judgment cost United dear, with David Cotterill having the easiest of finishes to make it 2-0 to Bristol City.

The keeper, honest as ever, accepts he has let himself and his side down at times.

But he believes this season is still a learning curve for him, albeit a steep one.

Speaking of the weekend clanger, Darlow said: “It was just one of them. I thought it was coming through, shouted for it and Dummo (Paul Dummett) has tried to head it back to me. It was miscommunication or he has not heard me, I don’t know.

“But that is the life of a goalkeeper.

“Yes, I made a few saves but that doesn’t wipe out what happened earlier.

“It’s not easy to forget about them but if you want to be a goalkeeper playing in stadiums of 50,000, you just have to learn to get on with it.

“That is all part of your career.

“Hopefully, this season will teach me a lot and I can kick on from here.”