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Where will the big tests come this season?

Posted on September 22nd, 2011 | 11 Comments |

Who cares what the goblin says?
The goblin is worried
Newcastle United have had what can only be described as a strong start to the season but where will the real tests come and how will we respond to them?

The one good thing about having no expectations is that you can’t be disappointed. But notice I wrote ‘no’ expectations instead of ‘low’ expectations, so that also means you can’t be elated either.

But no expectations is just what I had at the start of the season. I suppose I must concede that even amongst a general lack of expectations I’m pleasantly surprised at our 4th place, but it’s early yet and in terms of a finishing position, anything from 8th to 18th wouldn’t surprise me. 6th or 7th – and likewise 19th or 20th – probably would surprise me a little, but I can’t say I’d be stunned, shocked, awed, gobsmacked or any other converted past participle adjective of a similar nature.

So what do we make of things so far?

Well, personally, I’ll take 4th at any time in the season. I’d prefer it next May but I’ll take it now. I’ll also take the fact that we look like a gritty, determined, hard to beat team, which is handy because it compensates for our lack of polish and poor passing.

The popular thing to say these days are that there are no easy games in the Premiership, but that’s too trite for my liking. We’ve held 6th place Villa and 9th place QPR to away draws, so you would think our next two games home to Blackburn and away to Wolves should pose no particular problem. Then we play Spurs, Wigan, Stoke and Everton, three of which are possibly a bit more challenging.

After that though comes a horrific run of games: away to Man City, away to Man Utd and home to Chelsea, and this will be a real tester. Those are, in my opinion, the teams that will occupy the top three spots at the end of the season and, realistically, I think we’ll do well to emerge with a point from the three of them. That’s not the test though. We might reasonably be expected to lose all those games but the test is how we bounce back. With losses comes a losing attitude if you’re not careful, so I’m naming the game following those three – away to Norwich on Saturday 10th December – as the big test.

It is of course needlessly dramatic of me to do such a thing as name a ‘pivotal game’ but I’m in a needlessly dramatic mood today and may even greet my postman with an “Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him Horatio”, whatever that means.

But I like the idea of stopping points and assessment stages in a season and I’ve chosen the Norwich game as mine. I am both buoyed and nervous about things so far this season. Buoyed because of that grit and determination we’re showing but nervous because I have a goblin on my shoulder. Most people can’t see this goblin because he’s invisible to anyone who hasn’t had a few bottles of Vodka and a large dose of illicit pills, but what he is is a pessimist and he whispers in my ear a lot about Newcastle United. He says that it’s finely balanced and could turn in an instant. He says the whole thing could tumble down like an extremely tumbly thing (not one for similes is this goblin). I think he may be a Mackem.

In some ways I have to say that I agree with the goblin. It just seems to me to be one of those seasons that could go either way and, five games in, I’m still not sure. I don’t think the team has properly settled yet and I always worry about that slog from January to May when injuries start to bite. I have no ‘handle’ on it so far.

One game at a time though eh? Up first is Blackburn on Saturday and 3 points from that will mean we’re still at least 4th at the end of the weekend.

Howay The Lads!

NUFCBlog Author: Hugh de Payen I'm a baby-boomer of the punk rock persuasion, currently exiled in Somerset for crimes committed in a previous life where locals keep trying to poison me with something called 'scrumpy'. Hates sprouts, coat-hangers, Cilla Black, ornaments, Steven Seagull movies and 50 Cent (he's not worth 10). Hugh de Payen has written 634 articles on this blog.

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11 Responses

  1. when the fixtures were released I remember thinking that if we didn’t have 30 points by March we’d go down, some tough games towards the end of the season. we need to rack up the points now, and thankfully that’s what we’re doing

  2. The big test?
    Well, this is a new team, new players (we are still asking what their best positions are) & new style – and we are 4th!
    We have had our big test, and we have passed with flying colours! And we will get better!
    I expect 30 points by the next transfer window – and who we get/loose will be the next big test!

    By then we could have had a good cup run & be in the top 8 = successful team – so the quality of who we get in must change. No good looking at players we didn’t get before – we must up our requirements!
    As for selling, well everyone should be on long contracts by now so all we need fear is ludicrously high offers.

    I feel we will pass that test as well – I’m sure players are being lined up allready!

    Good days are on their way again, hip hip hooray! (to any tune you want).

    HWTL

  3. Forget manure & citeh away – we will get beat, so what, so will everybody else, thats no test. Look at the rest, we can get a result from anyone on our day!

    HWTL

  4. If we manage to collect 8-9 points from the games before the Citeh match and keep everyone fit I think we can be reasonably happy. That might give us a bit more than a puncher’s chance in our games in the North West and at SportsDirect.com Stadium v Chelski.

  5. “If we manage to collect 8-9 points from the games before the Citeh match” sorry, I don’t like your song susan!
    Our next six matches & the points I’m looking for are Blachburn (3) Wolverhampton (1) Tottenham (3) Wigan (3) Stoke (1) Everton (3) – that’s 14 out of 18.
    Ambitious? Yes, but that’s how far we have progressed. Our for is good, sprit high & luck is with us.
    Only 8-9 out of 18 would be a big let down!
    10-11 fair.
    12-13 good.
    13-15 very good.
    16-17 incredible.
    18 – I get booked into intensive care, but I’ll risk it!

    HWTL

  6. “Most people can’t see this goblin because he’s invisible to anyone who hasn’t had a few bottles of Vodka and a large dose of illicit pills, but what he is is a pessimist and he whispers in my ear a lot about Newcastle United. He says that it’s finely balanced and could turn in an instant. He says the whole thing could tumble down like an extremely tumbly thing (not one for similes is this goblin).”

    I think almost every Newcastle United supporter who’s supported the team for long time has one of those Hugh.

  7. Fair enough, but i think we may get unstuck with the spuds and everton games that you’re expecting 6 points from. Would rather be slightly cautious then pleasantly surprised than ambitious then desperately disappointed.

    x

  8. Agree with you workyticket just waiting for the wheels to come off but somehow we keep suprisng everybody and i for one cannot remember a start to a season like it. Long may it continue.

  9. C’mon guys, hate to rain on your parade (enjoyable as it is) but who the hell have we played yet ?
    An Arsenal side in dissaray missing arguably their two best players, we lucked out against QPR, while looking awfull.
    Not saying we gotta bad side, but lets not get carried away here, (Pardew calling Ba & Best as good as any front pair the club has had, yeah right Al !)
    Face it Blackburn are already fighting the drop and could go down.
    Time will tell, like to see us finish in the top ten, but not counting on it, May is a long way off.
    So enjoy the ride as long as it lasts, I am!

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