I wrote an article towards the end of October talking about expectations. I can’t find it on the website so either I’ve overlooked it or it was never published.
Rather than reprint it I thought I would summarise it here. Not in a told you so, sort of way, but more of a next time, just listen, more modest kind of way. Here goes.
“From 1955 when we last won the cup through to 1992 when KK took us to the top six. we had 14 years in the second tier, 17 years outside the top 10, six top ten finishes and one top six finish – 5th when Gordon Lee had Supermac and John Tudor banging in the goals. So not much expectation there.
Of course come the Premiership and KK flew into town backed by John Hall’s money, good assistants and charisma. It worked we had four great years (3rd, 6th, 2nd and 2nd) and then with Sir Bobby another three years (4th, 3rd & 5th). Even Glen Roeder got us a top ten finish. Unfortunately the other nine seasons were outside the top ten including one in the second tier again.
So do we treat the two great recent golden eras as the norm or as massive over-achievements? Well one we had loads of money and one we had one of the great all time managers. So no they are not the norm. However, the real question is can they be repeated? I’ve no evidence, based on historical performance, to support that “We are a big club, we should be in the top six year in year out. We show no ambition.” All this reminds me of my 10-year-old drawing up his Christmas list. We are financially the best of the rest. In my opinion we have the best team outside the top six and so top ten is realistic, if very rarely achieved.
I tend to be a bit pessimistic in the hope that I can be pleasantly surprised. Let’s assume for the moment that we lost every game against the top six home and away. Then lets assume that we win all our other home games. That’s 13 wins at St James’ Park. Then on the road we ought to beat the three teams that get relegated and a point away from home in the derby game is always nice. Now lets assume that that is it. That’s W16, D1, L21. 49 points. That should get you 10th or 11th. Right on our historical achievement It also gives me 21 games where I can expect nowt and be presently surprised.
So my minimum expectation is 49 points, I’m OK with top ten as it happens rarely enough and qualifying for Europe is wonderful.”
I was going to write a review of the season. But I don’t really need to, do I? 49 points, 10th place, just as expected. Just as we’ve always done.