Not long now and those of us suffering withdrawal symptoms without our regular weekly football hit will feel a whole lot better. With the Fulham V Newcastle fixture kicking off the season on Friday 5th of August live on TV I can hardly wait.
As I said in my last article, I am feeling very optimistic about the coming season but the last week or so has had me experiencing a bit of unease. You see, it’s an alien experience for Newcastle to have such optimism and huge backing going into a season, albeit it’s not the Premier League.
Everywhere you look you’ll see the bookies and media and every pundit saying we are odds on to walk the league. I have to say that part of me doesn’t feel comfortable with this situation because it just piles on the pressure before we’ve even kicked off. If you look at Aston Villa, Norwich City, Derby and Brighton, they are all just as capable as us of going on a good run. In the case of the latter two they are old hands at the championship and in that respect have the upper hand. They also have decent managers too, not that I would swap them for Rafa mind. No, I think I preferred it last time we dropped and we had loads writing us off, especially after our dreadful pre-season. It made winning the league even more enjoyable.
There is virtually nothing being said about Villa, Norwich or the other contenders and this leaves all the pressure on Newcastle to do what everyone assumes they will. How will this pressure affect Rafa and the players and how will those other teams react to being practically written off before the season starts?
The other consideration is player recruitment and whilst I think we have made some very astute signings on the face of it, I am still concerned as to whether we have enough in our armory. Do we need a couple of real quality signings still? and do we have strength in depth? Losing Winaldum and Townsend is a massive blow talent wise, I know Winaldum was a fair weather player but both he and Townsend in particular would of torn up the Championship and it’s a real pity that neither of them felt able to help put right what went wrong. I aim that at Winaldum more than Townsend, who for the most part tried his best.
I do think Matt Richie will do very well for us and hopfully our other signings too but do we have a stand out player yet? A player or players who will drag us kicking and screaming to the title. Last time we had Nolan, Carroll and Barton, 3 strong characters who never gave up but also had talent too. Do we have that mix yet or do we need more and possibly better in? Thoughts?