Apart from the exhilaration of watching decent football once again and finishing in a heady fifth position, there was also the small matter of finishing above Chelsea and Liverpool for the first time since…Newcastle were last decent.
It’s great to have only four clubs finish above you but as well as attacking the Champions League positions late on last season, I thought it was just as important to finish above as many of the recently established elite as possible.
We ended up claiming two big scalps in Chelsea and Liverpool, pipping the Londoners by a point with the help of that magnificent Cisse double strike, while Liverpool finished a miserable THIRTEEN points back in eighth.
Looking ahead to next season I think you can rule out the two Manchester clubs as far too strong, having finished 24 points ahead of ourselves.
However, I think everybody else is fair game. Last season Newcastle’s 65 points was bettered by Arsenal and Spurs by 5 and 4 points respectively, while Everton trailed Newcastle by 9 points and the red half of Merseyside by the aforementioned 13.
No disrespect ( or is that, every disrespect?) but once you have a season like that you need to keep looking at the stars and not worrying about lying back down in the gutter.
If you take last season’s top eight, now I’ve ruled out Man City and Man Utd., it leaves us with Arsenal, Spurs,Chelsea, Everton and Liverpool.
Due to their larger squads and availability of funds for their managers, any or all four are capable of bouncing back better next season. However, at the moment I see little to suggest Liverpool will massively improve, though sadly I can’t see them having an exact repeat of last season.
Spurs appear to be struggling with striker recruitment and Chelsea have now permanently employed yet another manager and are going through a transition period. Likewise Arsenal would appear just about certain to lose Van Persie who at times single-handedly kept them going last season.
Newcastle’s fortunes have become very tied up with Liverpool’s in recent times, especially since the (initial…) Carroll transfer and the respective very different recruitment policies pursued by Pardew and Dalglish.
If Newcastle approach the season in decent shape then I think we have every chance of repeating last season and finishing ahead of both Liverpool and Everton. While the other three are also there to be shot at, we might not succeed with every bullet but the days of the same top four every season seem to have pretty much gone.