Every season, after 3 or 4 games, fans and journalists alike begin to make judgements on the sort of season teams are going to have. It is the natural inclination of every football supporter.
Yet, all too often those judgements are premature. Take Wolves for example, who began the season with 7 points from their first 3 games. Confidence spread throughout fans and Mick McCarthy was widely praised. Since, they have lost 5 on the bounce and that early season optimism has turned into negativity.
Now, as the nights draw in and after 8 games, a far better judgement of a team’s season so far is possible, with perhaps the happiest of all fans in the Premier League those of Newcastle United. With the departures of Andy Carroll, Joey Barton and Kevin Nolan, it was predicted that the club would struggle this season.
However, the club remain unbeaten, beat local rivals Sunderland and look to have well balanced and settled starting 11.
Indeed, the team has remained unchanged for the last 4 league games, a rare occurrence in today’s game so highly reliant on squad rotation. Tim Krul has excelled in goal, while Steven Taylor and captain Fabricio Collocini give the team a solid defensive foundation.
It is in midfield that the team look strongest, a wonderful balance of defence and attack supplied by Cheik Tiote and Yohan Cabaye, with great width being supplied by Gabriel Obertan and Jonas Gutierrez. Up front, the confident duo of Demba Ba and Leon Best have 8 goals between them and look capable of consistently scoring goals for the club.
It is now that Alan Pardew will find out the real strength of the squad, in such a competitive league the modern game is now undoubtedly a squad one and the Newcastle boss will need to give other player’s game time as the season goes on.
Pardew must not become complacent regarding the team’s progress under his management, if he does that progress will stall. The size of the club gives Newcastle a great platform to consistently finish in the upper echelons of the league, something that will be possible if Pardew thinks long term in the next transfer window.
The lack of experience amongst the squad may well catch up with the club as the season progresses, with the fans likely to now expect a top half finish as the bare minimum, a couple of signings in January would not go amiss.
If Pardew strengthens the squad, while at the same time allowing the likes of Dan Gosling and Danny Guthrie to get game time later in the season, the long term prospects of the football club look very healthy indeed.
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