Newcastle Champions League This Season?
Is it to be Newcastle Champions League this season, it it a step/dream too far?
Loic Lifts Us Up Where We Belong
On December 18th, 2001, Newcastle United Football Club travelled to the then home of Arsenal Football Club, Highbury Stadium, and smashed our London hoodoo of 29 games without a win in the capital to go top of the Premier League under Sir Bobby Robson.
Currently, in late November 2013, Newcastle United Football Club have the same total of 20 points.
While not even the most wild-eyed optimist is going to suggest we’ll close the 8 points gap and go to Arsenal on December 29th 2013 and beat them to go top of the Premier League again…we are only TWO points away from 4th and 4 points away from the runners-up spot.
Newcastle United Football Club are in touching distance of The Champions League and can go 4th top of the table on Saturday night with the right result before the rest play.
Newcastle United Football Club CAN qualify for The Champions League in the words of former Manager of the Year Alan Pardew and it is where we truly belong.
We’re a massive club and with the right mix of decision-making, passion, quality, luck with injuries and, most importantly of all, the right signings in January to kick on, we can have a great season and crack the Top 4.
Qualifying for The Champions League will take us to the next level of revenue streams from TV and prize money, so unlike The Europa League and will not be a monkey on our back.
This is the most open Premier League season in two decades due to the managerial changes at Man City, Chelsea and especially Man United, Sir Alex’s retirement hopefully removing the refereeing bias towards the Red Devils they have enjoyed for 20+ years.
Manuel Pellegrini at Man City hasn’t experienced an English football winter yet and will get a similar shock to that he gets at most Premier League away grounds, while Brendan Rodgers has hit a performance ceiling no matter who he buys at Liverpool.
Pardew owned Pochettino’s Southampton last season 4-2 and will again, Spurs and Swansea are being Europa-doped as we were last season, while Everton and Martinez go to Man United and Arsenal away consecutively in December for a massive reality check.
Jose Mourinho is not as special as he once was – overlooking Demba Ba and letting Romelu Lukaku go out on loan without realising what he had is evidence of that – although having one of the most fearsome strikers in the League playing against all of your Premier League rivals may be a shrewd move and why the same-League loan rule needs to be changed.
We played Champions League football at Spurs, and home to Chelsea, we will be in the mix.
Strike It Loicy – He Did
It’s a loan ranger at Newcastle who is the leading cause of hope right now on Tyneside, Loic Remy, whose classy all-round game and razor-sharp finishing gives us a different dimension on the pitch, where the sky is the limit and The Champions League an eminent possibility.
Yet Remy must also be thankful to Newcastle for providing him with a platform, both a team of international footballers behind him and grand footballing stage, St. James’ Park, and realise our success is entwined.
Demba Ba didn’t and swanned off into the London smog in search of greater fame, glory and fortune with Chelsea, yet instead found himself a benched squad man, alone in a darkened trophy room at Stamford Bridge in football’s wilderness.
At Newcastle, Remy like Ba before him, is centre stage right now, the great draw and like any good leading man is stylishly rising to the occasion turning in goal scoring and match winning performances weekly.
You could tell he fancied it up here – and himself – the way he strutted onto the hallowed St. James’ turf in leather trousers before the SC Braga exhibition game, an early swagger of confidence that he’s more than delivered on.
Eight goals in ten games speaks for itself, as do goals against Chelsea, Spurs and an ever-tough Everton, and he’s already beaten the six he notched for QPR.
Two of those were penalties for the Loftus Road club though he missed another one, so he might have to fight Shola ‘100%’ Ameobi for the right to take our 1st spot kick of the season, although Spurs went the entirety of last season without getting one.
Yet despite a wonder goal against Wigan that announced his arrival in English football as a top striker, not many clubs were prepared to take a chance on Remy, certainly not the likes of Arsenal who are being linked with him now and hopefully that will count for something.
Remy must remember he owes a debt of gratitude to Newcastle for overlooking his lapse of judgement in January and signing for QPR – and giving him a second chance at the big time which from the way he is taking it with both hands and feet might already be the case.
He’s surrounded by a wealth of World Cup talent, almost a full team from Tim Krul at the back, Debuchy, Coloccini/Yanga-Mbiwa, Santon – can Iron Mike crash the Brazil party? – Sissoko, Cabaye, Tiote – is Gouffran a long shot? – and of course the Italy (7th best team in the world according to FIFA ranking) slayer, World Cup Shola.
And it’s not as if Remy is doing it by himself, in fact he’s standing on the shoulder of giants quite literally, as since 6ft 3 in Shola and Iron Mike Williamson who is 6ft 4 joined the line-up, the average height of the team has dramatically increased, so no wonder we finally scored from a corner. Who would you even start to mark as the opposition?
The physical stature of the team is massive now and the rise up the League almost as inevitable – the latest rise and rebirth of Newcastle United has begun since the derby and it remains to be seen whether West Brom can live with us, which I don’t think they will be able to on the current form that sees us 2nd behind Moyes United in the form table.
There are no easy games in the Premier League yet if we are on our mettle and stand up to be counted as we have done recently, then we’ll be 3 points closer to The Champion League come Saturday night, probably from a Remy goal – exactly where we should be. FHWTL
You can follow Stuart on Twitter @ultrastartime
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