NUFC – Fallen giants or the best of the rest?

by Christopher Martin

So we’re 7 weeks into the new EPL campaign and it’s been absolutely fantastic viewing, the standard of football has been higher than ever. There has been so much to discuss; from the impact Manchester City’s multi-million pound signings are starting to have, to the lacklustre form Arsenal have endured. But amongst all the press coverage the bigger clubs are getting, one side has gone unnoticed in climbing the Premier League table; Newcastle United. In fact Newcastle are enjoying their longest unbeaten run in 14 years after Saturday’s 2-1 win over Wolves.Ever since the end of Sir Bobby Robson’s tenure at St James’s Park the club had been in decline, eventually leading to relegation in 2008. Hindsight is a marvellous thing however, and now it seems as though Newcastle’s spell in the 2nd tier of English football was only beneficial to the club. It provided a platform for the club to reshape itself, enabling players who had the desire to play for NUFC to stay, as other big name signings (such as Michael Owen) left the club. Gradually this created a fantastic team spirit amongst players, as Kevin Nolan, Joey Barton, and Andy Carroll led the magpies to immediate promotion back to the big time.

So in the 2010/2011 Premier League campaign Newcastle United established themselves in the Premier League with some fantastic performances along the way; such as the 6-0 win vs Aston Villa, the 5-1 derby victory vs Sunderland, and the unforgettable 4-4 comeback against Arsenal which some hail as the greatest ever comeback in Premier League history. This, despite a lot of off-pitch controversy, was a testament to the focus and determination of the players.

Despite worries of “second season syndrome” Newcastle’s form looks to have continued where it left off since the EPL kicked off in August. The chemistry between players has never been higher, with the new signings gelling rapidly. Fans are often critical of the way owner Mike Ashley runs the club, but his investment in promising, young, talented players this season has been very effective. One example of his sensible buying is French midfielder Yohan Cabaye, who was signed from Lille this summer. He has been the instigator of a lot of attractive attack-minded football, forming a solid partnership in the heart of midfield with Ivory Coast midfielder Cheik Tiote. The form of the two, in front of Newcastle’s back line, has also meant defensively NUFC have one of the best records in the league.

Newcastle’s great start to the season is also down to Alan Pardew’s management. He has won over a lot of the fans, as well as the players, who were quietly sceptical about his appointment following the departure of Chris Hughton. His authoritative, level-headed approach to the role has empowered the squad with a never-say-die attitude, a heightened desire for winning, and a courageousness not seen in years on Tyneside. Pardew is at the forefront of the success Newcastle fans have so far enjoyed this season.

The challenge now for Pardew and Newcastle United is to continue the form the team has demonstrated so far, and to keep getting results in a league which is more competitive and unforgiving than ever before. Some have talked up European ambitions for the club, though personally I don’t believe this is realistic for this year at least. A top half finish for the club would surely be recognised as a successful campaign. The fixture list looks set to be more challenging in coming months for NUFC, the outcome of the matches ahead will be a good indication of how far the club can go this season.

2 Responses

  1. If I had to pick an English team to support it would probably be Newcastle, just enjoy watching them. It’s early on but perhaps they should be getting more credit from the media. They should be praising a team who have spent nothing near the amounts that their rivals have rather than focusing on the underachieveing big spenders.

  2. Very surprised at Newcastle’s start to the season. As you mentioned in your article the signing of Cabaye has been a great instigator in the magpies performances this season. With games against City, United and Chelsea at the end of November to the beginning of December i think this will tell us more about their realistic ambitons for the season.

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