Now I’d bet the majority of us have felt frustration with TV companies meddling with fixture dates and kick off times. All par for the course these days, the difference this season is that our very own Head Coach has taken upon himself to change when our season starts!

The chosen date of this amendment is this Sunday v Norwich. Whether we’re good enough to give our opponents an eight  game head start and stay in the division, never mind the target of finishing 8th, remains to be seen.

I personally don’t think we’ll go down, 13th by Xmas I told my mates after the Man City game. Although this display of blind faith was said with my tongue firmly in my cheek at the time, I do believe we’ll be alright. The next six games will either firm up my belief, change my mind or leave me in the all too familiar limbo of uncertainty, synonymous with supporting Newcastle United.

In the summer, before the originally planned and more traditional season start date in August, I thought the target of an 8th place finish was optimistic.

That said, I’d rather be optimistic and fall short than conservative and ‘achieve’ mediocrity. I thought the season, like most, would be full of ups & downs and consistency would be our main problem. Although the results have a consistency about them, the performances on the field are anything but consistent. From the decent performance against Southampton, the battle for a point at Old Trafford to the downright awful display against Sheff Wed in the Cup, anything else good has been in flashes.

We’ve saw glimpses of what we’re capable of against the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, Man Utd and Man City, now it’s time to see it against the teams that are most likely to be around us in the league, starting against Norwich on Sunday.

I do believe if we play like we did in the first half at Man City and stick our chances away, then the majority of teams, especially at St. James Park, will have been beaten by half time. Easy as that eh?

The reason behind our struggles, I think, is our current team lacks a bit of know how, experience, a canniness that can get a team through games even when they’re not playing well. Players with these characteristics are usually found through the spine of any good side.

It puts us in a position where to win we need to be on top of our game and playing well, which isn’t always possible even for the top sides, hence my thinking we’d have an inconsistent season.

Will January bring this type of character into the side? We’ve been crying out for it for the best part of five transfer windows. Will we be in a safe enough position where investment isn’t deemed necessary? Or will it be too late? Our ‘football board’ should have the answers.

How many times are we linked to a player you’ve never heard of? It’s all down to the dilution of standards at the club since Mike Ashley walked through the door.

I believe we’re now seeing the results of hit & miss, lucky bag style recruitment that has lacked any succession planning.

The conveyor belt of players from the continent without previous Premier League experience keeps rolling. These lads coming in are pretty much dumped into the first team and expected to perform in the same manner they had in the French/Dutch/German league the season before. Who do they look to when things aren’t going well on the pitch, or need a bit of guidance?

Half the seniors at the Club were sold a stepping stone to the Champions League, if they’re still here 3 years later they haven’t achieved that aim. Deflated, you can see these players just going through the motions in games at times.

Anyway, I went off on a tangent there, despite that backdrop we’ve got half a dozen fixtures on the horizon that we want the lads to get the maximum points they can in.

Norwich (h), mackems (a), Stoke (h), Bournemouth (a), Leicester (h), Palace (a)…six wins on the bounce?

We’ve seen what we’re capable of, if we play well enough for long enough periods in games then why not? One game at a time but that should certainly be our aim in these fixtures.

Previous campaigns have seen us hit somewhat of a purple patch in November. McClaren has asked us to get started in October, it would be good to get a good couple of results and lead into something like that again.

Throw in the mix a derby win, it could be just the thing to really kick start our season.

Whey aye man, leave your nervousness and stats that point to certain relegation at the turnstile and get behind the boys in black & white and, with a bit of luck, in turn they’ll give us something to sing about.


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