The decision to replace outbound Chris Hughton with Alan Pardew was greeted with extreme caution, even disdain.
The management had got rid of a man who had served us so well in helping us gain promotion from the Championship and had made a decent start to life in the Premier League, but a poor run of results (which wasn’t actually that poor) saw Hughton disposed of.
The replacement was eyed with suspicion. Seen as a puppet, a yes man, to front the board and give them an extra barrier of security, love and anticipation was in short supply. He was not exactly first name to come rolling the from the lips of anyone asked who Hughton’s successor should be, but 17 months on and any shred of doubt has been removed over whether the appointment was the correct decision or not.
Alan Pardew is this seasons Barclays Manager of the Season!
From 37 games we’ve won 19, lost 10 and the other 8. We’ve qualified for Europe for the first time in five years and we’ve done it through league position rather than cup results. We’re also in with a shout of qualifying for the Champions League and could well finish as high as third should results go our way, reaching our second highest Premier League points tally to boot!
It’s all a far cry from the start of the season though. All at St James’ Park was not well, or so it seemed, and players who had been so integral to ensuring our Premier League safety soon followed Andy Carroll out of the door. Joey Barton and Jose Enrique were quick to air their frustrations and used Twitter to do so. Kevin Nolan wasn’t as public as those two, not until after he completed his move to West Ham anyway.
Just how would we cope without those stalwarts?
Well the answer is, rather well. Brilliantly in fact.
Those brought in to replace the departed have added to our team and made it better. Virtually all of them arrived with some form of issue, ranging from knobbly knees to confidence issues to just plain being unknown to the majority of Premier League fans, but all of them have come in, performed brilliantly and have removed a whole host of questions surrounding them, including the question of whether our scouting network could deliver the goods.
All of this combined has contributed to the season we’ve had. From manager to players to coaching staff and even the canteen chef, it’s all been a team effort. It hasn’t always worked out and we’ve hit bumps in the road, although none of those bumps have made the wheels fall of, but overall I can’t knock the award of this and feel it is thoroughly deserved.
Now, have we played anyone yet?