The Toon Army is knocking at your Premier League doors
Well, since you asked, Marc – my season was great! Thanks! Just look at all these happy faces!
Okay, to be honest, it didn’t feel great in the beginning of 09/10 to be a Newcastle fan. Even for a relative newcomer like myself, who had only been cheering for the team for a few years prior to their relegation last May, it was still a woeful thing knowing we just weren’t good enough to play with the big boys, and maybe we should go sit in the corner and play with these Legos. (Especially the way it happened – relegated by an own goal! Oh, the pain!) I was frustrated with not being able to see their games on TV. (Yeah yeah, online feeds – illegal feeds are not always reliable, plus my Comcast so-called broadband connection…well, sucks sometimes) And of course, there was the fear that the slipping wouldn’t stop and they’d pull a Charlton or something on us.
But no! It was in fact an exemplary season. Even having lost some important players after relegation (including Obafemi Martins in the summer, and Charles N’Zogbia and Shay Given the following January), the team didn’t seem to suffer any setbacks for it. They spent much of the season in first place, and if I recall correctly, either never or very briefly went below second place. They were unbeaten until the eighth match, going into it with six wins and one draw. Only once, in mid-October, did they lose two games in a row, and they had two seven-win streaks and one six-win streak. They went unbeaten at St James Park, allowing only 13 goals on their home grounds. +55 GD! 102 points! Yay, numbers! Dance of joy!
Of course, there is a difference between playing Championship sides and Premier League sides, and I suffer no delusions that Newcastle will be stomping all over the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea. But contrary to some people who think they’re very funny – Marc – I really don’t foresee us being “the new Burnley” or going yo-yo. Chris Hughton has built a team that may not be overflowing with stars, but has some serious grit and determination, and he’s trained them to care about fuck all other than playing good football. I don’t think that’s going to change, especially because who will want to prove that they belong back up there more than the guys themselves? The team that got relegated was a very different side than what we see now; there’s been a major infusion of confidence, and that just builds on itself.
Of course, they’ll likely scoop up a few new players over the summer, though from less of a need to bolster a certain section of the squad and more for just a careful building-up overall. I’d like to see them grab Jay DeMerit (USA! USA!) who is set to leave Watford but apparently with no destination known. Perhaps they can swoop in and rescue Jimmy Bullard (not a young man, but still brings energy, not to mention humor) from relegated Hull City. A few smart additions plus keeping their focus and their fire should serve them quite well.
Knock. On. Wood.
(Whispers to Hughton: I don’t expect a league title, but Europa would be nice, no?)