With all the talk about the title race, the unrest at Arsenal and Chelsea, Redknapp for England and now the Carling Cup final it is easy to forget one of the seasons real success stories…I have been told I have to write a blog on Newcastle, well I will honour my word, they do deserve some credit so here goes:
It is hard to know where to begin, as, for one of the greatest clubs in England it has been one hell of a rollercoaster in the last couple of years! Relegation, promotion, the arrival of Alan Pardew and the emergence and loss of Andy Carroll to name a few – for now!
However let’s start with the bad times; relegation in 2009 was a massive shock to a lot of people not just the fans! It didn’t seem possible that a giant club like NUFC, with its amazing followers, immense stadium and with players that would get into most Premier League teams; could drop down to the Championship, a very tricky league to get out of.
I would argue that relegation was a blessing in disguise for The Magpies and they have never looked back.
With an upheaval of the squad and big name departures, wise decisions regarding players had to me made; youth also came into the team, Andy Carroll started to make a name for himself (I’ll get started on him later) and under Chris Hughton the Toon Army found themselves being promoted as champions back to the promise land after just one season away!
So in 2010 they were playing with the big boys again, this magnificent club was back where it belonged! For many, it is easy to think newly promoted clubs will struggle, regardless of having 16 years in the top flight under your belt prior; but Newcastle did themselves proud, even after a few ups and downs. They looked like the team of old beating Arsenal away being a prime example. It wouldn’t be Newcastle, if it was all plain sailing and after a winless run, Hughton found himself getting the axe. This was a decision that proved unpopular at the time, but fans are fickle and with the progress being made under Alan Pardew no one involved with the club has looked back.
Then in January came that transfer deadline day and the departure of Andy Carroll. Everyone thought it would be a disaster, it could halt the progress and it was hard to see where the winning goals were going to come from – oh how great is hindsight, eh? 35 million in the bank, a goal machine in the shape of Demba Ba to arrive in the summer and currently ahead of Liverpool in the league, the club who are now struggling to get Carroll in the form he experienced on Tyneside.
Building on a top ten finish in their first season back the team went on an unbeaten start to this season, only coming to an end mid November against the league leaders Manchester City – not bad at all, especially with a 3-0 win over Manchester United thrown in, for good measure.
Even now they are sitting pretty just three points off fourth and a coveted Champions League spot, surely, the most sceptical of fans must believe it can happen. Whereas the most optimistic still must be pinching themselves a little.