Following Newcastle United’s appearing cruise towards Premier League status again, have the players who followed them down learnt from their mistakes?
Newcastle United manager Chris Hughton has done a well publicised job of regrouping a bunch of disheartened and shell shocked players. Relegation can be dissected and blamed on numerous factors. Yes the ownership problems did have an effect, the continual change of management and in my opinion the most obvious and straight forward reason was some players just either were not good enough or did not play to the standard expected.
An air of arrogance existed when we were in trouble; I always felt the players really thought they would magically get out of it without ever understanding they were in a relegation battle. The final performance of the season against Aston Villa said it all. No heart, no passion, nothing. In fairness to the players I think they realised this upon life in the Championship, a shared responsibility was felt to the fans for the dismal way Newcastle played all season. Kevin Nolan in particular has surprised me in his passion and commitment to the cause and he should be praised significantly. He only joined the club last January and he now heads the players committee and has been sensational this season scoring vital goals.
The players have responded and I applaud them, in particular our foreign contingent. Fabricio Coloccini is like a different player to the one that joined 18 months ago. Numerous man of the match performances and he has chipped in with the odd goal. He looks calm, assured on the ball and never misses a header. I can’t believe it’s still him after what can be only described as a disastrous first season for Newcastle United. The pace just seemed too much for him, teams picked up on it and strikers hassled and closed him down causing him further mistakes. Again this season club’s have employed that tactic against him, attempting to force the mistake, but he is a much cooler customer now.
The same could be said for Jose Enrique who is sadly injured at the moment but was an early frontrunner for player of the season. Signed by Sam Allardyce back in 2007 the Spaniard struggled considerably during his first two years in England, the pace of the game was too much and his concentration, much akin to Coloccini let him down. His marauds down the left hand side this season in the Championship have been nothing short of sensational and is a danger to most teams. These two players in particular have improved significantly since Newcastle was relegated. Obviously the quality of opposition is not to the same standard of the Premier League, but I believe this season they have improved dramatically through the confidence of knowing they are in a good side at that level and the unity the team has found. This is the closest knit Newcastle side I’ve seen in a long time. Expect Coloccini and Enrique to perform much better next season in the Premier League if Newcastle gains likely promotion.
Whilst the reaction of the squad has been good, I feel major investment is still needed upon a Premiership return. The centre of midfield has always been a worry for me as consistently through transfer windows and for reasons I cannot fathom have Newcastle United not signed a creative central midfielder. The Turkish international Emre was the last one we had and whilst he always will remain in our hearts after his 30yrd free kick against Sunderland, he was never fit and consistently dropped far too deep to pick up the ball.
Furthermore a Premier League goal scorer is required, someone who’s 15 goals plus would make sure Newcastle maintain their Premier League status. I just don’t see new striker Leon Best offering anywhere near that sort of return.
What has been clear is Newcastle United have used the relegation and media circus that surrounds them with ownership issues and turned it into a catalyst for their form this season. They have taken responsibility for the lacklustre performances of last year and learnt from their mistakes. With a swift return to the Premier League looking imminent can these players prove they still have Premiership credentials?
Have Newcastle United learnt from their mistakes? Do you think Newcastle would survive in the Premier League with their current squad?
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