I was quite upset when Newcastle sacked Chris Hughton…actually to be honest I was infuriated. Not because I support the Magpies, but because Mike Ashley’s treatment of a man, who had proven himself at St James’ Park through getting them back into the Premier League and was looking more than capable of keeping them there. It was just callous and wrong and despite the wrongdoing, Hughton was dignified as always and the Spurs legend could walk away with his head held high.
Football never stands still though and while there were several eyebrows raised, when Alan Pardew took charge, it now appears to have been the right decision, given Newcastle’s start to the present campaign, and some of the performances Pardew’s side have put in along the way.
It seems to be the general consensus that the Tyneside club have no chance of maintaining their challenge for a place at the top table of European football, by qualifying for the Champions League. I for one am not so sure about this and believe the likes of Tottenham, Arsenal, Liverpool and possibly even Chelsea have to start to sit up and take notice of a club, who are daring to threaten, what some fans see as a god given right to top European football.
Everyone knows Newcastle are a massive club, with a stadium that can pack more fans into it than anyone in England, with the exception of United and Arsenal. However, having a big stadium is one thing creating an atmosphere is another as anyone who has been to the Islington Library will testify to. And boy can they give it some welly at St James’ Park. A very hostile place for any team to rock up to. Fans don’t win you games though, the players do and this present Newcastle side under the guidance of Pardew are playing an attractive brand of football, which is delivering the most important criteria in the modern game, results.
The emergence of Tim Krul in goal this season, has seen the long suffering Steve Harper loaned out to Brighton. While Steven Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini, Danny Simpson and Ryan Taylor are the meanest defence in the top-flight so far this term. The addition of Yohan Cabaye to partner the combative Cheick Tiote in central midfield, has been a revelation, with Gabriel Obertan and Jonas Guitierrez providing a constant attacking threat and the width needed to supply Pardew’s other great summer signing Demba Ba, who is a real handful. Leon Best, has rediscovered his ability to score and such is the form of the current first XI that a quality player like Hatem Ben Arfa is struggling to find a role in the team since his comeback from injury.
Some might say, that there are sterner tests to come for Newcastle, with the visit to the Etihad Stadium on November 19th, the nearest looming on the horizon. Followed immediately by a trip to Old Trafford and then the visit of Chelsea on December 3rd. Indeed, we will all have a better idea of Newcastle’s credentials as we head into the crazy Christmas period.
However Pardew and Newcastle’s biggest test could be, when or if they start picking up a few injuries to key players. Because, while the current first team is in no doubt a very good one, they quite simply don’t have the strength in depth that some of the usual suspects do. I want to see Newcastle do well this season, though hopefully not at the expense of my team. For a competitive Premier League, where no team is guaranteed winning trophies or qualifying for Europe can only be good for English football and would rubber stamp why we have the best league in the world.
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