With all the talk about how we have improved/weakened as a side, I thought it would be nice to have a look back at how we were coping this time last season.
We didn’t get off to the best of starts in our first game back in the top flight as 1,800 Geordies invaded Manchester only to see us lose 3-0 at Old Trafford. In all honesty I don’t think anyone really expected a result to be fair.
The first home game on the other hand was the complete opposite with a 6-0 demolition of a decent Villa side. I can remember how great if felt to taunt the Villa fans who had mocked our demise and loss of Premier League status only 12 months earlier. At the time the media brushed it off as a fluke result with a misleading score line, but future games against the likes of Sunderland, West Ham and Arsenal showed that performances like this were no anomalies.
Three days after the Villa match we found ourselves at the “Crown Ground” which is the home of Accrington Stanley and the entertaining Stanley Ultras. The match was (thankfully) not as tough as this seasons tie against Scunthorpe, although it did have its similarities with Ryan “Over The Wall” Taylor smashing in a stunning 35 yard shot to open the scoring.
We managed to run out victors although we did make hard work for ourselves at the end as we conceded a goal in added time which led to a nervy few minutes. That was to be last goal of the game though with us having dominated in a slightly misleading 3-2 score line.
Our third game of the campaign was to be against Mick McCarthy’s Wolverhampton Wanderers, with a strong Wolves side taking the ‘Kick Joey Barton off the pitch’ approach. Andy Carroll scored a headed equaliser in the 64th minute to ensure we came away with a point, but to be honest we were lucky to get even that and if I was a Wolves fan I would be disappointed that we didn’t win the game.
In terms of transfers during that period we managed to secure the signature of Cheik Tiote and Hatem Ben Arfa while allowing Fraser Forster, Kazenga LuaLua and Ben Tozer out on loan. The club also showed that they wouldn’t back down when it comes to contract terms (something we have now become accustomed to) when they placed Steven Taylor on the transfer list after failing to agree on a contract extension.
So in summary at this point last year we were sitting in mid-table on a decent 4 points out of 9, while we are currently 6th in the league with 7 points out of 9.
While I don’t agree that our squad is currently stronger than last seasons, they have nonetheless put in some hard graft on the pitch, and if they keep this sort of form going in the next few games then I may have to re-evaluate my thoughts on the team.