It’s been a slow ascent up the steep wooden rickety track. The emotions that have gripped us have ranged from excitement and eager anticipation to apprehension and outright fear. Another pre-season draws to a close and we all prepare to plummet into the unknown of another topsy-turvy Premier League campaign.
At the start of this pre-season, it’s fair to say that the vast majority of NUFC fans were over the moon with the club moving early in the transfer window and securing the signatures of the highly rated Yohan Cabaye, Demba Ba and Sylvain Marveaux.
I thought this was an excellent move to gazump any potential suitors to the excellent Cabaye and impressive free agent Demba Ba by getting them signed up quick sharp. I felt really enthused that the scouting trips over the course of the last year had been acted upon early. Marveaux came out of left field and we were looking stronger than we have in years.
Most of us believed this was a sign of things to come and a statement of intent. After all, a few quality signings in the right places to add to what we already had and we were on course for a European challenge! We also had £35 million burning a hole in our pockets just waiting to be spunked all over top talent.
It was going to be a good season at SJP.
As this rollercoaster ride has taught us many times in the past, the gut-wrenching thrill is usually short lived and is replaced by bumps and bruises.
Instead of adding to the strength and heart we showed last season, we sold our Captain Kevin Nolan and put our vice captain Barton up for sale – available free of charge. Same old Newcastle some said. Once again we were making the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Trouble marred a friendly at Darlo. Players refused entry to the USA due to Visa issues. The team hasn’t played together properly going into the season. A loss at Elland Road.
In between, the excellent acquisitions of Gabby Obertan and Mehdi Abeid. The promising performances of Dan Gosling and Haris Vuckic.
Recently, Jose Enrique has left to join our local ex-number 9 in Scouseland and just a day before the start of the season with no replacement in place.
As I said, a whole host of emotions brought on by a huge amount of drama. Did Alan Pardew ever think this was going to be easy?
I am going to St. James’ Park on Saturday and won’t remember any of this. There will be only one thing that matters on the day and that is watching the boys give 100% and going for the win.
This season, our midfield is going to play an absolutely integral part. Cabaye and Tiote in the middle with players like Gosling and Guthrie pushing for a place. Marveaux and Jonas on the wings being pushed by Obertan and Abeid. The return to fitness of Hatem Ben Arfa and the option of Haris Vuckic.
We really do have a hell of a lot to smile about in that department.
My concern is up front and at the back. Our full backs are our weakest part of the squad and we don’t have adequate cover for Colo and Taylor. If teams play the long ball and bypass our midfield, we may struggle. My concern about attack may be misplaced as Leon Best may just continue his rich vein of goalscoring form and Demba Ba may just pick up where he left off at West Ham.
It’s all good Pardew adopting a pacy, creative force in the middle of the park but when you are going away to Stoke and Blackburn and are desperate for 3 points you may need a different gameplan. Will we have one? Will we have that Joey Barton grit roaring box to box?
All in all, it’s tough to predict where we will be come the final curtain but I think it’s fair to assume it’ll be mid table. Bring in a good striker to compliment Demba with Best and Shola as backup and a strong left back…..By Christ……we may even be more comfortable than last year.
Another roller coaster ride – all aboard!