At the start of this season most pundits and journalists for the national papers had Newcastle United marked down as relegation fodder.
That feeling was shared with a minority of fans in fairness although most expected a season of stagnation. However, I don’t think even the most optimistic of our fans could have predicted we would be on 36 points after 21 games; I for one certainly didn’t!
Maybe if the so called ‘experts’ had taken a closer look at what was going on at Newcastle this summer instead of just seeing the likes of Kevin Nolan, Jose Enrique and Joey Barton leaving and instantly marking us down as a lost cause, they might of come to a completely different conclusion when trying to predict our fate this season.
First of all I will be the first to admit that it is a lot easier for me to say this now with having hindsight, but let us take a look at some of our players that were wrote off:
Tim Krul – Arguably the best goalkeeper in the country.
Danny Simpson – Might divide opinion amongst fans but has been consistent in the top flight now for 18 months.
Fabricio Coloccini – Top drawer centre half and would push for a place at almost any other Premier League team.
Cheik Tiote – Best defensive midfielder in the Premier League. Could play in any team in the league in my opinion.
Yohan Cabaye – Came over as a French international and a double winner from Lille with a great reputation.
Demba Ba – His goal scoring record spoke for itself when he signed and after his short spell at West Ham he had already proved that the Premier League held no fears for him.
The six mentioned above are just the obvious ones that surely the ‘experts’ would of picked up on if they had bothered to do a little research, then you can add to that list with:
Davide Santon – Italy U21 Captain, and came over with a big reputation (which he has only increased.)
Hatem Ben Arfa – Can be a little bit of an enigma, but the lad has bags and bags of talent.
Then you have our new signing Papiss Demba Cisse who arrives with a reputation for scoring goals, but remember I’m only really talking about the predictions some had at the start based on the player we had at the time.
I personally think from taking a look at the players already mentioned that it is plain and obvious that this Newcastle team where not going to struggle, and fair enough nobody was to know that Ryan Taylor would step up his level of performance by such a big margin or that Steven Taylor would probably play the best spell for the club before injury, and that Danny Guthrie would step up to the plate so capably; but the foundations were there for all to see.
The major concerns I had, and I think most of the fans had before the season started, was the squad depth, but having hindsight now we are not as small on numbers as I imagined at the time, not if you count some of the young players who are coming through who are now banging on the first team door.
I am not saying we don’t need to buy, as if you stand still in the Premier League you go backwards, but at this moment in time I think it is more important not to sell than it is to buy, as this group of players who were written off by many before the start of the season has done the club proud.
And when you look at it closely, is it any real surprise?