Newcastle United obliterated the Championship in uncharacteristically consistent form, keeping numerous clean sheets and breaking records, guaranteeing the return to Mecca was secured in jubilant fashion. With all of this confidence and eager readiness for the new season to commence, passionate Geordies would watch an opening day fixture at Old Trafford result in a 3-0 defeat. This wasn’t much of a surprise and would have done little to dampen the spirits on Tyneside. What would be held in the minds of supporters was how to prepare for the imminent home fixture against Aston Villa and how this would set a benchmark for what was to be expected in future games. You would have been given some questioning looks and observed perplexed faces if you had suggested anything exceeding a 3-0 victory, yet a 6-0 drubbing ensued and alluded, not just to assuring Premiership football, but possibly to a mid-table finish. This reverie was soon dashed by a draw at Wolves and defeat to Blackpool, materializing the inconsistent form so familiar once again.
Calm down, calm down
We learnt that Joey Barton could grow facial hair with the caricature of Harry Enfield’s tracksuit wearing scouser’s being unavoidable to the mind. This stunt struck everyone as the focal point of Newcastle and created a media spectacle that only last two Premiership games. This was obviously a welcome result, although I would have enjoyed seeing a full handle-bar moustache minus the defeats it would have required. Aside from this Barton capped the Aston Villa game with a splendid goal and has gone on to affirm his ability, displaying some commanding performances which will serve Newcastle well.
Here, There and Everywhere
Results become fixed once the final whistle blows and these tell the story of an inconsistent start of the season for Newcastle. Two wins, two draws and four losses which amount to eight points chalked upon the tally chart, situating them in 18th position. With West Ham this weekend Newcastle desperately need to pick up points, especially as the Hammers sit bottom of the table. Chris Hughton recently came out stating: “…we know there are going to be ups and downs when you look at the quality in this division.” This appears to be a ploy to curtail the expectation and allay the disappointment when suffering those ‘always around the corner’ defeats. What is necessary are the wins to make acceptable the defeats.
Goals Win Games
As the panel of ‘state the obvious’ would dictate to you, goals are what successful teams boast in abundance. Apart from the anomalous 6-0 win, Newcastle would be better served with another goal scoring threat aside from Andy Carroll and Shola Ameobi. These two strikers aren’t exactly consistent and would be levied from their task if another player could assist in the plight for goals. Hatem Ben Arfa looked the greatest contender and would have supplied opportunities for others also; with his loss it may be judicious to acquire a similar style player in January. See my article on Niko Kranjcar as a replacement.
Right Back at You
A major flaw in Newcastle’s defense comes in the guise of James Perch, unfortunately Perch has had to adjust and discover himself what exactly competing in the top tier of English football involves. So far he has come away from his parents meeting with many red pen marks and a ‘must do better’ ringing through his ears. With Danny Simpson having almost fully recovered from his operation and back to full fitness, we may see him against West Ham, which would be a timely appearance. Simpson would sanguinely recapitulate his form from last season, being one of the most consistent and reliable performers. I wrote of Perch’s struggle here.
All Quiet on the Western Front
A tumultuous period ensued whence Newcastle became relegated; none felt this more so than Mike Ashley, who subsequently listed the club for sale and looked to be cutting his losses. No offers of any substantiality were forthcoming and so the ownership remained as before, a triumphant season in the Championship saw murmurs recede and Mike Ashley grinning at increasing the value of the club. The structure of the club has changed from previous years and seems more austere, with faith in Chris Hughton and playing in the Premiership again alleviating pressures from the board. The board must respect the fans and in doing so create a reciprocal relationship, whether it will last is another matter entirely and depends on the remainder of the season.