But not right now. That much is painfully obvious after Saturday's 5-0 drubbing at Spurs. Newcastle entered the match with a chance to move into fourth place. It left London in sixth place with a goal difference of zero after its worst performance of the season.
In hindsight, we all should have seen the potential for this coming. Spurs came into the match on an emotional high after manager Harry Redknapp was cleared of tax evasion charges this week, ending 4 1/2 years of drama. Not to mention Tottenham is simply a damn good team with the sort of speed that Newcastle has struggled against at times.
The wisest thing to do would have been to sit deep and worry about stopping Spurs first and foremost. Instead, United left space for Tottenham to maneuver, got opened up time and time again by early balls into the channels and compounded those problems with some abysmal defending in and around the box. After impressing last week, Danny Guthrie and James Perch looked out of their depth against Scott Parker and Luka Modric in the center of the midfield as Newcastle struggled to maintain possession (United's 34.6 percent possession was its worst of the season*). Again, not totally surprising. But all of this is easy to say after the fact.
As always, though, some level of perspective is needed when looking at a single performance and its meaning. Fourth place looks unrealistic at this point, even if Arsenal and Chelsea are each only one point ahead of Newcastle with 13 games to play. But United is also ahead of schedule in its long-term plan. Wasn't a top-10 finish the goal for this season? Newcastle still should finish in the top seven, an achievement that shouldn't get downplayed.
If anything, Saturday confirmed what we already knew. Newcastle needs to upgrade on the flanks, both at fullback and winger. Davide Santon's defending needs to improve, while Danny Simpson is just an average Premier League player. Jonas Gutierrez is a hard worker who isn't dynamic in the slightest and Gabriel Obertan is nothing more than a squad player. United badly needs more speed at the back - isn't that right, Mike Williamson? - and on the wings.
None of those things are new revelations. It's just too bad we had to be reminded this way.
*Statistics courtesy of EPLIndex.com.