EVEN the most optimistic and passionate Geordies would not have predicted Newcastle United to be just four games away from a place among Europe’s elite in next seasons Champions League.
Alan Pardew came into Newcastle on the back of Chris Hughton controversial dismissal, at this time many of the Geordie faithful where at loggerheads with the way the club was being run especially the owner Mike Ashley who came in for heavy criticism.
However Pardew has managed to sign many world-class players in the forms of Hatem Ben Arfa, Demba Ba, and Papiss Cisse among others. These where mainly funded from the departure of former number nine Andy Carroll after his £35 million transfer to Liverpool last January. This makes the achievement even more remarkable as fans and pundits alike where sceptical about Carroll’s departure, leading once again to questions on whether the club was moving the right direction.
How things change, they have had some stunning results this season, the stand out being the 3-0 victory over Manchester United back in January, which has seen Pardew’s men take 33 points from 45 since the turn of the year.
Pardew himself has called the season ‘special’, and continues to be philosophical in his approach: “whatever we do now, it’s an outstanding season. But of course, we haven’t lost sight of what the city hasn’t lost sight of”.
Mike Ashley himself has maybe at the right time, came out fighting and showed the fans that he is there to take the club to the next level, no-one can argue that what has been achieved this season is nothing short of a miracle and credit is surely due to those in the board and at playing level.
However the four games that follow will be the toughest games of Newcastle’s season, the next coming away to Wigan, who themselves are in a rich vein of form and are locked in a relegation dogfight. They will pose a stern test, having recently beaten Manchester United at the DW.
The games against Chelsea and Manchester City will be pivotal and will show just how deep into their minds these players can go to reach the very top level in the game. If they can achieve Champions League football, they will be able to keep their star players, and a new cash injection will surely follow.
Possibly a manager of the year award to follow for Alan Pardew maybe even an England call, what is certain though, regardless of where they finish, the Magpies have nestled nicely back in to the Premier League’s elite.
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