We have had some cracking seasons over the past 20 years in the Premier League, from our very first where we tore up the league with Cole & Beardsley to finish 3rd, to the ’12 point lead’ year where we were an inch away from Premiership glory, to a couple of FA Cup Finals back to back, to Sir Bobby taking us to the Champions League from absolutely nowhere and of course last season’s unexpected 5th place finish.
This season however has been an absolute stinker, but what seems ridiculous, is that it could still turn out to be the No.1 landmark of a season in our Premier League history. That would be achieved if we finally win that trophy we desire by bringing home the Europa League. How could it not be to finally end that 44 year hoodoo and put to bed the mocking of ‘what have you ever won?’.
When a Toon fan gets asked this annoying question we instantly lay claim to 6 FA Cups, 4 league titles and that famous Fairs Cup win in 1969. Unfortunately, the follow up question is always ‘well what have you won recently?’. We then have to go through the heartache of 1996 to explain how close we were and how a couple of last minute goals at Liverpool and Blackburn stole our dream and then go on to casually mention we got to the cup final twice in 1999 and 2000. Which we never even looked like winning if we’re being honest…
Now this year has been a total shambles, especially compared to last season’s 5th place finish which will go down as a definite success. But it has to be said if we were to avoid relegation and also get our name inscribed on the Europa League trophy it would turn out to be best of them all. Which seems insane right now but through all our Premier League impressive finishes we are yet to win something. Which is what football is all about at the end of the day.
Simon Bird in the Mirror claims that most Newcastle fans would take relegation if it meant we did win the Europa League which quite frankly is ridiculous. What, is he insane? Relegation could be the death of this football club and no trophy is worth going through that. No chance. We have coped with having no trophy to cheer about for a generation now and waiting that bit longer won’t exactly hurt us. Going down could kill us. The man’s an idiot.
Our aim this season is to stay in the league, that goes without saying, but seeing as we have Metalist back to back with no league fixture in between, there is no reason or excuse to not play our best team to hopefully see them off into the next round. Plus our league fixtures afterwards are very kind. We could see ourselves easily safe by the time March comes along and then the Europa League would become our No.1 objective. Do you know where we finished in the league in 1969? Do you care? Of course not.
If I see Pardew not playing his best team on Thursday or the Thursday after and then make excuses that the league is our main objective after limping out without much of a fight, I will never let him live it down. Ever.
One thing is for sure, we may never see European football for a long time after this year. We definitely won’t be playing in it next year. There is only one way we will and that’s to win it. Pardew has already thrown away our domestic hopes this year with his team selections, I don’t want to see it again.
Our draw in the Europa is kind. We have avoided any of the true heavyweights until at least the semis with Anzhi or Hannover awaiting us in the next round. The only thing we have to deal with is the long trip to first Ukraine next Thursday and then possibly to Russia to play Anzhi. But if Hannover see them off then that wouldn’t be an issue.
We should be looking at the Europa League as the chance to save our season.
In fact, victory in the Amsterdam Arena on May 15th wouldn’t just save this season but become a true landmark to be remembered forever, as we finally open up the trophy cabinet to actually put something in it rather than to shine up what’s been in there for years. As great and as proud as we are of those achievements…we need another one!
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