Is he correct in his assumption though? Are we really in a position to compete for European qualification this season? With 30 points from the first half of the season the answer is probably, but if you look at our squad the answer is probably not.
We are woefully short in a few areas, namely attack and defence. This is not to say that we are short in numbers, instead I mean that we are short in quality. Now the riposte from a few will be that ‘we’re not Barcelona’ or some other stunt like that, which is correct of course, but I’m not asking for a 25-man squad full of international players like they have at their disposal. Just some reasonable back up.
“I think we’ve got ourselves in a position where its possible that we could have European football,” Pardew told the Sunday Sun. “I think that’s something we’re going to have to look to try to chase if we can. If we can come out the other side of the African Nations Cup seventh or eighth I think we could have a good chance.”
“We’ll have to wait and see what happens in that two months (around Janaury) – it’s a very difficult period for us in terms of 2012. To lose two of your best players is tough,” he admitted.
Now cast the African Cup of Nations aside for the moment as regardless of that we’ve needed anther striker to work alongside Demba Ba for the whole season as the quality we have in reserve is, well, not the greatest. A look at the defence and it’s the same old story in part, although in a way we are also lacking in numbers, and that was before Steven Taylor’s injury!
I understand that we are halfway through a rebuilding job at the moment and that it takes time to change a squad from a Championship one to a European chasing on, but the annoying thing is that we’re only a couple of signings away from doing just that. When you look at our league position it’s hard to argue that we’re not improving on the pitch but the problem is that we’re being left incredibly exposed by a failure to invest.
That could all change in January of course, although with the rumoured transfer budget being set a £8m (according to the Sunday Sun…) it might not change too much in this transfer window. In the end that lack of quality in depth will show I feel and with that our chances of Europe will fade away.
Now I’m not saying that we aren’t progressing and even if we don’t get into Europe this season there are grounds for optimism for the future in my opinion. You only have to look at the players we brought in over the summer to see that it is possible. As for this season however? Nope, nada, no way.
Mind you, I’ll happily be proved wrong!