I’d say we’ve being going really well this season. I mean we sit in 6th place and have just signed one of the form strikers in Europe. It’s been worse…
However I’m wondering just why we’ve done so well. What has the magic formula been? Are we really good enough to be sitting 6th in the table? Is it a flash in the pan before we come crashing down to Earth with a bump?
Right back at the start of the season I think the fans we’re split, roughly, into three categories with regard to how they thought we’d progress this season. Obviously right now we have the benefit of hindsight, but looking back I’d say those groups followed these paths.
1 – Some fans thought we would struggle and lose key players, replacing them with nobody or inadequate players that would place the club into the struggling end of the table, usually citing that Ashley was hell bent on making profit on any cheap player who performed better than expectations.
2 – Some fans thought we would lose one or two key players but replace with near equal quality that would be good enough to secure a comfortable mid-table finish and a slow painful push on from there.
3 – Some fans, including myself, have had faith is Ashley and Co from the off and sensed that we could push on and build a quality team that can not only hold their own but actually mount a meaningful challenge against the European places in short order and also knowing that we are on solid ground as far as being in a position to solidify it all for the future.
I’m not having a pop at anyone for having negative thoughts by the way as every fan sees things differently, even to the point of seeing a game differently to others and it’s all about opinions. However, back to the point of why I believe we are doing so well.
I believe it’s down to a number of factors that are all fitting into place quite nicely.
Firstly, Ashley has to get a mention for starters for putting us in a strong financial position and being tough in his stance on how the club is run.
Then, the appointment of Alan Pardew, who for me was the low profile type of manager that we really needed to drag this club screaming out of the doldrums and end the possibility of players becoming too unionised if you like. Think Joey Barton, Kevin Nolan and Co believing they ran the ship over Chris Hughton (in my opinion). We needed a manager like Pardew that was going to command respect and who would give out respect to those who deserve it but will not suffer fools gladly.
He is also the right manager because he took on the job, knowing that there were restrictions to spending and probably understood why it had to be like this in the early part. Something that a high profile manager wouldn’t accept, I’m sure.
The appointments of Graham Carr (scout) and local legends such as Peter Beardsley and Steve Stone, plus the master stroke in bringing John Carver back have all aided in the solid foundation the club is set on now.
Now all that is common knowledge to us all, but to push on, obviously we have to have that kind of solid backbone to achieve the next steps and, again as we know, the clever buying of foreign players has aided us greatly with the astute signings of players like Cabaye, Ba, Tiote etc.
Now all that alone is a good marker for why we are doing so well but it doesn’t really paint the full picture because to enable us to carry all that forward, we have to have our so called cannon fodder to jump from those trenches with gusto and charge forward with no questions asked and take up positions.
Yes, exactly, I’m taking about the fringe players! Those players that, if we are honest, we thought were washed up and ready to ship out. I’m talking Danny Guthrie, Mike Williamson, James Perch, Leon Best and so on. I think you get my gist.
The point is, these players have upped their game, including the youngsters, because they are now learning from the quality in abundance that we possess and know that a stint in this team isn’t a foregone conclusion as it was just a few short years ago.
These same fringe players, and I include Ryan Taylor in that, have not only upped their game to actually shock us out of our thoughts of mediocrity and have actually got us talking about the qualities they possess and some are excelling in versatile positions.
Apart from the little blip we had in losing our two main centre backs, plus having Williamson crocked, we have coped admirably against all opposition.
I know many fans still think we are threadbare squad wise and at the start of the season, even I couldn’t argue against that but now I don’t think we are as threadbare and, due to the emergence of players that have clearly upped their game and youngsters virtually coming of age, this is the reason in my mind why this team/squad are outstripping many expectations/hopes of fans and media.
I think the future of Newcastle United is a bright one and it starts and ends with the emergence of fringe players wanting to emulate the quality experience in the team knowing that if they don’t take the bull by the horns, they will be left as also rans and they are proving, in the main, that they have the bottle and the ability to stake their claims to be part of this clubs future success.
What are your thoughts on this?