A crucial match against Stoke today and the points are still to be put on the board – but what a great undercurrent in the preparations for today’s match, from the Newcastle United perspective of course.
United’s position in the Premier league table might not have changed radically (yet…) but the transformation in hopes and expectations, in just over a month, has been remarkable.
I don’t think many fans had any great expectations for the Europa League having seen the embarrassing display at Brighton in the FA Cup. It wasn’t an embarrassment getting beat by the south coast team because after all they are just one division below Newcastle, what was a total disgrace though was the performance of a team who after all were supposedly first team squad players.
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It looked as though United were not going to risk first team players in cup competitions and that the squad players coming in were clearly not going to get us anywhere once we played the better European teams in the competition.
However, we have just seen a Newcastle eleven largely made up of squad players and who more than held their own against a club who are spending £30m on world class players and who were second favourites for the competition.
What makes it all the better though is that today, Alan Pardew could be able to bring in SEVEN first team players who didn’t start in Moscow.
Papiss Cisse was out through illness, Gouffran and Debuchy weren’t eligible to play, but the manager chose to rest/leave out Tiote, Taylor, Jonas and Santon from the team that started against Anzhi.
Clearly, at least some of the squad strengthening should have happened in the summer but for the here and now – to be able to come off the back of such an excellent European result and potentially be able to add seven of your first choice eleven into the starting line-up against Stoke today…surely you can’t get a much more ideal scenario.
No excuses today – three points.
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