I’m asking you to use your imagination, to imagine Newcastle United as a normal club.
No players bought last summer after a close shave with relegation, not great expectations for the season ahead…
After a shaky start (Cabaye on strike, loan striker Remy arrives recovering from a bad injury, Cisse in dispute with club and a four goal walkover by Manchester City, Newcastle United surprisingly start to pick up.
Some inspired Ben Arfa magic settled things down with six points off Villa and Fulham before Cabaye was fully rehabilitated and along with the class of players such as Remy and Coloccini, things began to look on the up. With hard working Gouffran and Sissoko and Debuchy showing his true form, things were on the up.
A mixed bag of results but generally positive, with some real gems such as the outcome of matches against Spurs, Chelsea and Manchester United.
Newcastle United reach January with as many points as they had at the same stage in the 2011/12 season when they finished fifth.
What a platform to build on…
This is where things really fall apart and Newcastle’s paper thin plan and squad become transparent.
We’d got away with it first half of the season, by and large our class players had stayed fit and played week in week out, especially in the case of Remy and Cabaye who Newcastle United had been massively over-reliant on for goals and creativity.
Squad kept intact and reinforcements on top, surely that is what any ambitious club would do in this position?
Imagine then if at the very start of January, Newcastle had brought in Luuk De Jong on loan and a player such as one of the skilful goalscoring midfielders, Grenier or Cabella, who allegedly United were interested in.
Imagine bringing in De Jong gradually to help get his confidence back, maybe the Cardiff cup match for 20/25 minutes after Remy had played and scored a couple to make the game safe.
Grenier or Cabella training with the squad and then phased into the team alongside Cabaye, Remy, Sissoko, Tiote (and eventually De Jong) etc
With the knowledge of reinforcements arriving I think there could have been every chance of beating West Brom instead of losing at the Hawthorns – they were terrible.
Norwich would clearly have been beaten with Cabaye/Grenier in the team and the mackems could and I think would have been a completely different kettle of fish.
Cabaye seeing the club moving forward and maybe persuaded to stay at least until the summer.
Those potential 8 points (wins v West Brom, Norwich and the Mackems) would now have us sitting in joint fifth only two points off a Champions League place.
We’ll just never know.
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