Despite Newcastle not managing to match last year’s wonderful start, are you happy with our start to this season?
For me, the answer is definitely yes.
Before a ball had been kicked in anger, most people were expecting us to struggle to find last season’s form, and with the addition of mid-week European games, and the so-called weight of the fans’ expectations, many were saying that we were in for a difficult season.
Admittedly we haven’t really found our best form yet, but here we are, after 10 games, sitting in 10th place on 14 points. 3 points behind 4th placed Everton and 9 points ahead of Reading who fill the 18th slot, and looking highly likely to qualify from the group stages of the Europa League. We are unbeaten in the last 3 Premier League games which include a well deserved draw at out biggest rivals, a hard fought, if a little fortunate win against an excellent West Brom team, and a worthy point at Anfield. Yes there is room for improvement on the pitch, but so far we have looked very solid at the back and are always likely to snatch a goal with the quality of our attacking players. To be where we are without really firing on all cylinders is a tribute to the hard work being put in by Pardew and the players.
Competing in Europe has definitely affected our league form. Not because the players are fatigued from the travelling, but because having to prepare for these midweek games leaves little time for Pards and the coaching staff to prepare for the weekend clash. But despite this we are still in a relatively good position, and with our November fixtures being at home to West Ham and Swansea, and Southampton and Stoke away, one would hope that we could still be within a few points of the top 4 as we go into December.
Injuries and suspensions could be a factor in the coming weeks, and although so far our fringe players have not let us down, I hope that this opens Mike Ashley and Derek Llambias’ eyes (and wallets) to fact that we still need to sign 2-3 players in specific areas in order to be able to compete in the latter stages of the cups and still fight for a European spot again for next year.
So, IMHO there are many positives so far this year, so long as Ashley and Llambias allow Pards to build on our decent (if unspectacular) start.