If you cast your mind back to Newcastle United in the 2008-2009 season, they were a club in disarray. Protests against Mike Ashley and the board were a consistent occurrence; the managerial position was filled by no less than three managers in Joe Kinnear, Kevin Keegan and Alan Shearer and the club were relegated on the final day of the campaign.
And yet, a year on from it all and there is an unconventional sense of stability with which they conduct themselves.
They have a manager in Chris Hughton sagaciously eradicating the unrealistic expectations which used to set the club up for an inevitable fall and even Mike Ashley’s position has not been lampooned with relentless demonstrations outside the old Milburn reception. Which begs the question; has the Newcastle chairman and the club itself finally turned a corner?
The demands of European football have subsided, instead being replaced by agreement with Chris Hughton’s call for steady building in order to restore a club of such grandeur’s tarnished reputation – the aim of survival is now common place.
And whilst the media excitement, about where the next disaster lies, is nullified by such a sensible notion, the absence of chaos may be just as wonderful.
This ‘new Newcastle’ we have seen so far details a team refreshed by their time away from the top-flight, one whose humble nature and work ethic contradicts the former obsession with overpaid big names who did not live up to the standard their wage packet suggested it should have been.
In addition, the arrivals of Sol Campbell, Hatem Ben Arfa and Dan Gosling provide further evidence that they are back on the right track – a far cry from the grossly inflated transfer fees once splashed upon the likes of Jean-Alain Boumsong. The clubs devoted fans may now have a team which they can fall in love with once more.
Last season, Newcastle players endorsed their tremendous team spirit during tough times in the Championship and this will be vital in their quest to beat the teams around them and stay in the division. To do so they must beat the teams around them, the likes of Wigan, Wolves, West Brom, and Stoke.
The type of football during this season will not be a passing master class like that of Arsenal or Chelsea, in fact it is more likely to elicit descriptors such as dogged, determined and gritty than anything related to the fluidity with which Kevin Keegan used to orchestrate things back in the mid 90’s, but if it is effective in retaining their status as a Premier League club then so be it.
For Newcastle, the next episode in the clubs history may be far more modest than their 52,000 seater stadium and fan base suggests but at this moment in time, their recent history justifies it.
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