Much is often mentioned in the papers about the ‘expectations’ surrounding Newcastle United. Fan expectations have, bizarrely, even been blamed for the team’s failures on and off the pitch over the years.
Undoubtedly, relegation three seasons ago (seems like much longer to me!) ‘helped’ to bring expectation levels down. I don’t know any Toon supporter who was unhappy with our Championship winning season, or the two since then. We have improved year on year since being relegated and will hopefully do the same again this year.
So, what would improvement be? What exactly are the expectations on Tyneside? Where realistically could we hope to finish this season?
I would expect the top two to remain the same in the league. I can see Manchester City winning the league again this year, possibly even with more ease than last time out. After that though, I think places from third to eighth are up for grabs.
Chelsea and Arsenal have both strengthened this summer but I feel it could take them both a while to get going in the league, while the likes of Hazard, Podolski and Giroud settle in. I think Liverpool and Spurs could really struggle this season, I can’t see either team being even nearly prolific enough in front of goal to do any real damage to the teams around them. Everton will most likely start poorly but then pick up as the season goes on.
That leaves us, who have brought in a good trio of youngsters to compliment the healthy mixture of youth and experience we have already. If we were to only have the league to worry about this season then I could see us pushing for Champions League football again. However, if the transfer window was to close tomorrow, I don’t think we would be ready to compete on four fronts.
Fifth position I think, could be a realistic area to aim for. Then hope that a couple of other teams have poor spells as they did last season.
As for the cups, I would like to see us use the League Cup to give as much experience as possible to the likes of Tavernier, Good, Bigirimana, Abeid and Vuckic. Pardew seems to have a lot of trust in these youngsters and I believe they have an understanding with each other and could take us far in this competition.
The FA cup is a one I think Pardew will really go for this year. His anger at being knocked out at Brighton was there for all to see last season and I think he will be fielding his strongest team in all FA Cup matches next season.
The Europa League is a tough one. I think Pardew will play strong teams in the home games, going for big wins. Then using some youngsters and playing a more defensive counter attacking style away from home.
I would be happy enough with getting to the quarter finals of the League Cup, Quarters of the FA Cup and getting through the group stage of the Europa League and seeing where that takes us.
So no, I don’t expect us to win a cup, qualify for the Champions League, or to win the Premier League. However, I do hope that we could be in contention to do one of the above. I cannot understand people who criticise supporters for having ambition. What is the point in supporting a team, playing for a team, or managing a team, if it is not to have an ambition of winning and to be the best in their field.
I’m an optimist though, so scrap everything I’ve just written. We’re Newcastle and we’re gonna win the league!
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The following six matches have already been confirmed as televised live, with no doubt many more to follow.
Spurs (H) – Saturday 18th August but moved to 5.30pm (ESPN)
Chelsea (A) – Saturday, 25th August but also moved to a 5.30pm kick-off (ESPN)
Everton (A) – Monday 17th September 8pm (was Sat 15th Sept) (SKY)
Manchester United (H) – Sunday 7th October 4pm (was Sat 6th Oct) (SKY)
Mackems (A) – Sunday 21st October 1.30pm (was Sat 20th Oct) (SKY)
Liverpool (A) – Sunday 4th November 4pm (was Sat 3rd Nov) (SKY)