How Tynes Change
After thirteen games the magpies had won seven, drawn five and lost only once. scoring nineteen goals and conceding just twelve, a league best along with eventual champions, Manchester City, and Liverpool.
Fast forward twelve months and more or less the same team has played thirteen matches and won only three games, losing five and drawing the remaining five, scoring a total of thirteen goals and conceding seventeen.
So what has changed in that one year period, a period in which, hardly any major changes have occurred. Unusually, we have the same manager we had last year and pretty much the same squad. Unless Leon Best was an inspirational member of the squad whose departure has left the team broken? Or perhaps it was the exit of emphatic goalscorer Alan Smith, whose goodbye left the team in a wreck? Or perhaps not.
Or is it the arrival of the Europa league, adding a large number of energy-sapping games to an already overloaded schedule. An extra game every couple of weeks for the lads to contend with. Now this could be a worthy and understandable excuse. However, Pardew is resting players, and last time I checked; Obertan, Harper, Ferguson and Marveaux were not in our starting eleven. Perhaps a Cabaye or a Coloccini is starting the odd game but rarely finishing it.
Is it the poor luck that has been handed to us so far this term, where injuries to Krul, Coloccini, Raylor and Cabaye have all taken their toll? Last year the team was extremely lucky to stay injury free, with only Saylor picking up a long-term injury, but injuries to key players could have meant that big players are missing for big games and in a squad that is relativeley short of resources as it is.
Last season, I was always aware of the fantastic team spirit the Newcastle lads had, the cohesion that made them a force to be reckoned with. Now there are rumours of heads being turned, unhappy players and agents sticking their noses where they are not wanted. Could the effects of a fantastic campaign last year be that players feel that they are bigger than the club?
Although perhaps not a potential golden boot winner, Leon Best did chip in with a few goals that could have proved important, for example the Fulham game last August. Best’s odd goal has also not been replaced, which brings me rather nicely to another reason why the toon are not reaching last year’s heights.
Newcastle badly need players that are of better quality than the ones we currently have – especially on the bench. Apart from the starting eleven, it appears the rest of the squad is rather poor. Players such as Gosling and Rob Elliot are just not good enough and when injuries do strike, we cannot expect them to jump into the team and offer fantastic performances and this is because of the fact that, like many others in the squad, they are mediocre players.
So why didn’t Ashley get out his cheque book in the summer and sign De Jong, Debuchy or Douglas? Only he knows the answer. I thought it was a fairly clear situation, more tough games in a season means more injuries, more suspensions and more fatigue, thus more quality players where needed to allow for these problems.
I believe each of these factors have contributed to what has been a fairly poor campaign so far. Failure to replace those that have left, or bring in those that we have needed, has left the team stretched. Injuries to key players like Coloccini means quality is lacking. An amazing season of punching above our weight means that the odd player is looking elsewhere. A team capable of such feats should not be mid-table but in the top seven, producing performances that can at least get the fans off their feet.
Instead we have been handed inadequate performances that leaves much to be desired.
What I do know is something needs to change, can you see progression or stability from a team that cannot beat Maritimo at home?
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