Do you believe?

Third on merit

How far can this lot go?
At the beginning of the season not one of us would have entertained the idea that we would be unbeaten and 4th in the table after nine games, behind Chelsea only on goal difference.

Alan Pardew, his coaching staff, scouting staff and players are really surprising not only the so called ‘expert’ pundits like Paul Merson and Mark Lawrenson, but the Black and White Army itself.

Throughout this summer I’ll admit to being one of the pessimists. There is a difference though. Whilst a lot of fans were up in arms about the sales of Kevin Nolan, Andy Carroll and Jose Enrique I thought each departure was a good move for the club.

When that disgrace who’s name I can’t bring myself to mention because he is not a man, but a well paid bully left at the beginning of the season I was made up. Andy Carroll was a decent prospect sold for a fee he will probably never be worth even when he does reach full playing maturity. Kevin Nolan was a leader and knew how to score, but lost half a yard of pace with each game and ended up appearing to run backwards towards the end of the season. No way is he going to be a top level player in three or four years time so a new contract for that length of time was out of the question. Jose Enrique wanted to move onto ‘European’ (lol) football with Liverpool and lost interest in us from January onwards – so all in all they all had to go.

My gripe was with the reluctance to spend money. Appearing to pull the purse strings far too tightly and come out with a load of bull about free transfers costing as much as a normal one… I had a gut feeling that Yohan Cabaye would be a good piece of business, but thought he would take time to settle. Generally we signed a couple of players on the cheap that I thought were a huge gamble. Foreigners that did not have a name, unlikely to make much of an impact in the best league in the world – I could not get my head around the lack of a ‘big’ striker coming in or replacing the players that went with proven quality.

How wrong I was. Graham Carr and his boss have done a great job in bringing in financially viable, technically and physically suitable and mentally mature footballers with a sound work ethic. The signings we have made to replace the players going out have been class to be honest. Given the contribution Yohan Cabaye and Demba Ba alone have made to our cause so far, some teams (Liverpool….cough….cough…) could pay upwards of £40 million for a pair like that and not get anywhere near the same return.

Our midfield is covered in every aspect at the moment and has the manoeuvrability to change shape and formation with ease, losing none of its effectiveness. We are by no means the finished article. We are light a full back, centre half and striker still. However if the management can somehow get players through the door in January to fill those positions then I don’t care about price tags anymore. I trust their judgement.

Trust, there’s a word you don’t often hear associated with this club anymore. Anyone else feel the same? Maybe it is just me, but how can you argue with what you are witnessing so far this season?! If we fill those positions in January then this team could be set to do something special this season.

Now naturally after the stick us Toon fans have gotten over the years about expecting too much and the press unfairly painting some deluded picture of us to the rest of the nation, we are on the whole guarded about wanting to open our mouths and say we believe in this team.

However, this run of results is the best we have had in a very long time. It is not by accident either. We have heard about how hard Alan Pardew and Steve Stone are working on curing our long line of defensive woes and six goals conceded in nine games is providing promising results. The gaffer is stitching a brand of football together at the minute that is built on a team game – defending as a unit then attacking with technical precision, high work rate and flair that appears seamless at times.

The formula is working too. Nine games in and we have not lost. Not just that, we have not even looked like losing. Don’t give me that guff about not being tested yet. Spurs were a test. Arsenal might not be at the top of their game, but are a test for anybody. Wolves gave us a hell of a test and Wigan, desperate to turn things around, tried and failed. This team has shown time and again that when the plan is not working like it would hope, it has the mental resolve, work rate and little bit of class to just get the job done.

Put it this way, last season we finished 12th. QPR were not in the league, so lets compare this season with last based on the eight remaining fixtures we have played to date. This season we have accumulated 18 points from those games, last season we had just 5. That is how far this team has come. We are burying teams that previously we could only draw with, it is a jump up in class. Nine games in is pretty much 25% of the season. The boys are being consistent in the long term, we have not been able to say that for a while!

Now then here comes my reason for feeling optimistic about our chances this season… We have 30 games left. 10 of those are against the elite of Manchester United (twice), Manchester City (twice), Chelsea (twice), Arsenal (once), Spurs (once) and Liverpool (twice). You would be right to say it will be a huge ask to expect us to compete with them, which is why out of a possible 30 points I can only see us picking up maybe five or six.

However, the remaining 20 games are ALL winnable against sides similar to, or just not as good as us. Of those 20 games, I see no reason why this team cannot pick up 10 wins and 5 draws – losing 5 in the process at tricky destinations like Stoke and Everton for example. However that would see us pick up another 35 points. Add that to the 5 or 6 we gain against the elite and the 19 we have already amassed and we are realistically looking at a season total of 59 to 60 points.

Based on last seasons table, that would put us bang on the money for 5th or 6th place. With Arsenal looking unbalanced and Liverpool being inconsistent having spent big on players producing little, I reckon we are a realistic shout at pushing one of the two down to 7th with the two Manchester clubs, Chelsea and Spurs occupying the top four places.

Call me deluded if you want, but us fans have suffered long enough and this team is making me believe again…

What do you readers think? Is the top-six now a realistic target this season based on what you have seen so far?

118 thoughts on “Do you believe?

  1. Liverpool and arsenal are in a separate category again for me. Yes the ability to spend money plays a part, though i do think we’ll spend a little too. The main thing for me is their quality in depth and experience of competing for CL places every year will be invaluable coming down the stretch.

    Do i think we could finish ahead of one of them? Yes, but i think both would really be something. Put it this way, i can see either of them lower than seventh come the end of the season; I can’t see both ourselves and, say, an everton finishing ahead of either of them.


  2. Cheers Dub, Ice… Toonsy, I guess it does protect the teams taking part, but it’s boring all the same. Re: the Champion’s League – too right. It’s disgusting how that pans out, however the Champions League is too big now. It is not a league for ‘Champions’ anymore and there is the problem… Fix that and the rest of it will follow…


  3. MDS – that does not guarantee success though. Liverpool have spent stupid amounts recently and it is getting them nowhere so far…
    You are right that it is not a guarentee, but it helps


  4. Great article. I came to the same kind of conclusion by a slightly different logic…. if we’re at 4th after 1/4 of the season (nearly), then in order to finish 10th we’d have to play at the level of 16th for 1/4 of the season and 10th for 1/2, or something equivalent. Not very scientific, but it means that to average out there, our performances would really have to drop off significantly for the remainder of the year and not just a couple of matches.

    Therefore, subject to the huge caveats of luck and the unforeseen, I feel pretty confident for top 8. But 6th with either Arse or Pool below us seems quite doable if things go our way 😀

    Been crying out since the cup matches for more of Marvellous Marv (the way he moves is so beautiful!?), and to see our triangle magique (Cabaye, Ben Arfa, Marveaux) all together on the pitch….. looked pretty damned good for 15 minutes!!! That is what we need against the big guns.

    Much prefer it to our old triangle (Barton, Carroll, Nolan). So much more fluid and less predictable 😀

    Exciting times ahead, though I find the next two matches quite scary, especially Stoke! HWTL.


  5. Well just limiting the discussion to Lpool, look at what adding Suarez in january did for them. Gnerally you are right though


  6. Like the way you thinking in there Susan .. my only concern about Marveaux is whether he is physical enough to start .. the thing about obertan and jonas starting is that they put in a good shift and wear the opposition down – at least thats how it looks – and then we can bring on the triangle magnifique to do damage when the oppo is tired .. mebs doesnt apply to the top teams who are mega fit and mega skilled .. david silva is unreal


  7. Yep Susan, I reckon Stoke could well be the first hurdle we fall over… If we get ANYTHING out of the game then this team’s ambition, dedication and intent is well and truly declared! One step at a time though eh?! 😛


  8. Know what you’re saying Toonpipes…. but I think Marv has stamina, he played 120 minutes in both cup games and kept his game up… and Obertan could also make a good impact sub, I think at that stage of the game he could be very confusing for the opposition. Anyway I just wanna see Marv start once and see how he does! He was my instant favourite! But not ready to write Obertan off by any means 😀

    Shamrock, a point from Stoke would be an achievement, IMO. Come on lads….


  9. Or when you say ‘physical enough’, do you mean able to deal with Stoke hard men 😕

    It’s true Obertan is bigger!!


  10. SHAMROCK theres no way i would be playing benny against stoke,i would be doing as wenger done with van persie and kept him off until the last 15min


  11. I think we will be able to get a point maybe something more from the stoke game. Most of their team are playing in the europa league and their big danger is Crouch upfront. If someone man marks him then that would stop one of their big threats getting through on goal.


  12. We are currently joint 3rd in the league, we have the best defensive record and in the table of stats for teams creating chances we sit 4th, trailing only man city, utd and Chelsea.
    I agree with you, and was pleased to see the back of greedy players who didn’t appreciate the size of the club they were playing for, and I think would have caused unrest ad the season progresses.
    Was pleased with Ba and Santon signings, but knew very little of the rest. They have turned out to be brilliantly sourced and have adapted superb… but, like the rest of the Geordie nation, was crushed on deadline day.
    Whilst we are clearly creating chances, we desperately need, in my opinion, 2 strikers and 2 defenders. We also need to have a big picture and organise some pre-contract agreements in Jan for players we can pick up free in the summer.
    Thrilled with jonas putting pen to paper and pray Colo follows suit. We also need to hold onto players in Jan and not fall foul to the so called top 4 wanting our players (I refer to Liverpool).
    I’ve avoided the question it now as I’m a bit frightened to believe, but if we can avoid injuries to key players and we are still there or thereabouts with afew new faces at the end of Jan….
    Why the fuck not!!!!


  13. If we sign a full back a striker and a centre half all of decent quality and keep hold of what we have ie colo tiote krul then maybe just maybe 6th or 7th . (but will we)
    I think 9th or 10 is more realistic with what we have at the minute or losing a player and lets not forget we are losing ba and tiote for upto 9 games between jan and feb and then maybe a injury or two up front or in defense would worry me also .
    Iv never understood how selling Carroll was a great deal for us fans he is a good footballer who scores goals and is a geordie and for now the money has not been used to better the team in any way shape or form and he has not been replaced so in my opinion it may as well have been 35 pence as 35 mill what difference does it make to us !!!!!
    I love the football at the minute and ill admit i have been wrong so far about Pardew who is doing a fab job along with the coaches but as someone mentioned above we have to see how they will react to losing a few games or getting a few injurys .
    IMO we will finish about 10th and id be pleased with that and if we could get close in the CC and i think we can then bonus .


  14. Keith – sorry to be thick n all, but what does this mean:-
    “IMO we will finish about 10th and id be pleased with that and if we could get close in the CC and i think we can then bonus .”


  15. Anyway Shamrock, good article and some good opinions.
    I want to believe again, but I’ve kinda got the lid on it at the moment.
    The jury’s out deliberating, but for the moment I’m loving the positive vibe about the club. Got a feeling it wont last long tho, and am waiting to see how the lads react to losing.
    As fans and supporters tho we have a responsibility NOT to get straight on their backs and booing (God I hate that 👿 ). They will need our support even more after a defeat, and what they have given us already this opening 9 games has imo earned them a touch of breathing space.
    Any top half finish will do me, and will be a progress from last season.


  16. When you’re sat in the pub
    And you’re watching your club
    Thats a makem 👿

    When you leave at half time
    Cus you’re done by the Tyne
    Thats a makem :mrgreen:

    When your teams on its arse
    and your fans are a farce
    Thats a makem 😳

    When your favourite date
    was in 1908
    Thats a makem 😕

    When you live in the dark
    cast by St James’ Park
    Thats a makem. 😆

    wouldn’t wanna be one of them kunts 😆


  17. Just a quick one lads… Remember when hull started unbeaten and had about 20 points from 9 games or something… They narrowly survived because we failed to beat villa.
    Let’s not get toooo excited. But can’t really see that happening but did scare me when read that on old Lee ryders blog!


  18. Andrew – Now and again. He claims he is busy these days, which coincides with his prophecy of doom not coming to fruition. We’ll see if he returns when/if things start to turn for the worse.


  19. There are a few others who have disappeared since things have been going well also….. Funny that….. Where are the likes of Pootle on Co? Anyone would think that they haven’t got anything to say unless it’s a moan. Surely not….. 😕


  20. Toonsy

    If you decide you want a ticket, let me know and you get one via my season ticket. Know it will depend on your shifts, but if you want one its there for you.


  21. Oh so synical Toonsy 😛

    I’ve honestly got a thousand and one things going on a the moment. But to be fair, the players, manager and today the regime have surpassed all my expectations. And to celebrate I bought a season ticket for my son .

    There’s certainly nothing to moan about and I’m more than happy to put my hands up and say, I never saw this coming.

    Grandma Baba Vanga has put her crystal ball in for a service! 😛


  22. Toons

    I am almost certain Pootle is the same guy who used to post as Fernando, Oliver, Agatha etc. You remember? The Mackem/Yid. I was always quite good at sussing out his new aliases and Pootle seems very similar to me…


  23. @AndrewNufc

    He’s too busy spreading the doom and gloom in the Mackems blogs 😀

    Great article Shamrock, definitely believing that we can get a good result in every game. Not thinking about Europe or even the CL but if we keep up this form who knows? Would just be happy to see the team playing well and scoring goals week in week out.


  24. Troy @ 105

    A thousand and one things? 😯 Bet it took you ages to count all them. Hope you wrote it all down as it would be a right bastard if you forgot an had to go through it all again.

    Anyway, why do football clubs persist in hiring Sven Goran Eriksson? 🙄


  25. Beardsley’s B’s@97…”“IMO we will finish about 10th and id be pleased with that and if we could get close in the CC and i think we can then bonus”

    imo(in my opinion), if we can get close in the Carling cup, Keith thinks we can, then that’s a bonus 😉


  26. Moreno “Anyway, why do football clubs persist in hiring Sven Goran Eriksson?”….ask a mackem when they take him on next 😆


  27. Here’s a left field comment, to counter Man City’s game: Play a midfield of

    Tiote, Cabaye
    Obertan, Marveaux, Jonas
    Ben Arfa

    Ben Arfa playing a ‘false nine’ role.

    I think the team is mobile enough to get up and support Ben Arfa while also defending from the midfield to crowd out City attacks. It might get a bit congested in the centre of the field but if we have outlets wide in Obertan and Jonas we might be able to relieve the pressure.

    No idea how to beat Stoke, though. Perhaps give everybody stilts …


  28. Troy – I knew that would flush you out 😉

    Bris – I dunno mate. David Silva looks frightening at the moment. Unstoppable virtually 😕

    In other news, I see John Terry is shitting a brick and squirming like a worm at the moment.



    Cannot believe you think Nolan scored a “scorcher”.

    Have a look again and see how much room Harper him gave to shoot at.

    Even though I am biased (never had time for the poser) it was still useless positioning by Harper


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