I’m not entirely sure who was conducting the interview, but I came across it via the ‘BBC sport’ website. Our number 23 had this to say:
“We know it’s always more difficult the second season after you’ve been promoted.
“I think first and foremost we have to stay in the league.”
I think that is a fair enough point, I’m sure all of us would prefer Newcastle staying in the Premier League come the end of next season. The ‘second season syndrome’ is a fear in which I am relatively afraid of, Birmingham being the most recent examples of a strong first season, followed by a not so brilliant second season (although they actually won something).
Shola also commented:
“I think it’s good to build a base before you push on and hopefully we can do that with a good finish mid-table next season.”
Outspoken Alan Pardew, has already commented this pre-season about the Newcastle board expecting a top ten finish as a minimum requirement for the side. Now, being only 30 seconds away from 9th position last season, I assume we almost achieved this seasons target early. Of course, last seasons target was to stay in the league, and to slowly bed ourselves back into top flight football.
In all honesty, we over achieved last season. Looking at our squad at the start of last season though, I was sure we would be fine (in comparison to other squads.) It was only really ‘expert’ pundits such as Paul Merson and Robbie Savage who foresaw our certain return to the lower depths of football’s elite.
So, in essence, has last seasons achievements accelerated our want for the club to really push on this season?
Well, if you take into consideration Shola’s take on the up and coming season, coupled with Alan Pardew’s comments on finishing in the top ten next season (please feel free to find Pardew’s comments if you wish, there are hundreds of them), then the club do seem to be content with a mid-table finish next year. To me, I can understand that to a degree. But there is that mental, passionate supporter inside of me screaming for a bit more also. Regardless of how much we have to spend, I feel that our current squad (with no outgoings), is only maybe, two or three decent players away from a top eight side. Now I’m not even talking about big, expensive players, merely just players in which can really improve the squad depth, and not see us up s*** creek when injuries occur.
There will be injuries, aren’t there always?
So I guess it is a little frustrating thinking we are only a few players away from giving next season a really good go.
I’m not saying our current crop can’t have a good go, but as it stands, if we incur one or two injuries (namely Demba Ba), we could indeed find ourselves in the same position as last season. The lads last year, really over exceeded themselves in some aspects, and I think it will be difficult to replicate some of the performances they produced. Not also forgetting, teams will be slightly more wary of us, than they were last season. In contrast I would hope we too, are more wary about the ‘lesser’ teams coming to St James’ Park, and put in better performances like those against Stoke and Blackburn at home.
There is of course still six weeks to go of the transfer window. I am a sceptic with regards to Mike Ashley, especially with how previous transfer windows have panned out. Some, who are reading this, may think he is wonderful, some may even think he is an evil spirit sent to overlook the Geordie apocalypse…
It is he who has the final say on transfers in and out of the club.
So whatever your take on him is, I’d like to know what your realistic expectations are for next season.
Are we a top ten team already? Are we relegation fodder? How close are we to over achieving, and what else do you think the squad needs?