Newcastle Are Well Placed For European Push
With 11 games to go, Newcastle are sitting in eighth place in the Premier League – just five points behind Manchester United (sixth) – and have some very ‘winnable’ games coming up. Is it just me who doesn’t understand the negativity of some Toon fans?
February 28th, 2014
Football is a funny old game. There was a time when it was all about results. Now, managers who deliver ‘success’ in one way or another are also expected to do it in style.
Last Sunday, I watched Newcastle put in a lacklustre display against Aston Villa for 80 minutes, before Loic Remy popped up with the only goal of the game. Three points, to end a winless run of five home games, was a great relief for all involved. As Remy fired the ball past Guzan deep into injury time, St James’ Park erupted – with a huge roar echoing around the colossal arena.
Post-match, Alan Pardew brushed off the crisis talk, with what crisis? He had a point. Newcastle currently sit eighth – five points behind 7th-placed Everton (who have a game in hand), and five behind champions (6th-placed) Manchester United.
Pardew brought up Everton to argue that it had only been the manner of Newcastle’s recent defeats to Sunderland, Chelsea and Tottenham (ten conceded, none scored) which had fans thinking negatively. He was right. It’s a 38-game season and, while the stats make for bad reading right now, they weren’t so bad in the first half of the season when this Toon team beat Manchester United and Tottenham away, and Chelsea at home.
Pardew’s comparison to Everton has caused a bit of a stir, just like everything coming out of his mouth seems to do so from the Pardew Out brigade. Technically it is true that Newcastle are five points behind both Everton and Manchester United. It is also probably true that if, before the start of the season, you told 99% of Toon fans that we’d be in this position with 11 games to go, most if not all would have gladly accepted it.
We cannot forget that this is the same team which finished 16th last season. As things stand, we are the eighth-best team in the country (with the eighth-best squad), and it’s hard to argue against the seven teams above us being better. The question one must then ask is, why do fans tell me day in, day out that we are underachieving? Are we really? Why is our season over for so many fans when we can still, realistically, qualify for Europe.
The eleven games from now until the end of the season make for interesting reading for the Toon. We’ve got away games against Hull City, Fulham, Southampton, Stoke, Arsenal and Liverpool; with home matches against Crystal Palace, Manchester United, Swansea, Cardiff and Everton. From those games, Southampton, Manchester United and Everton are in that 6th – 9th zone where we could see fierce competition for Europe. In total, we have 33 points to play for, so anything could happen.
I find it frustrating how so many fans have given up on the season because of two reasons. Firstly, we’re out of the cups and secondly, we lost to Sunderland. The cup exits are frustrating and something we need to address next season. As for Sunderland, who cares about them? Where are they in the league? Because I can’t see them from eighth position.
In my view, there’s still plenty to play for this season. It’s time my fellow Newcastle fans showed some faith in the manager and started to believe that we can make something out of this campaign. Howay The Lads!
Umar Farooq, Editor – NUFCfans.co.uk