“Has a team ever hammered three teams and scored more than five goals each time, and then got relegated, do you think?” It may have been said tongue-in-cheek, but the question my dad asked me as we were trouncing West Ham 5-0 was demonstrative of the madness our fans have become accustomed to our crazy, crazy club.
At most teams, two commanding wins on the bounce as a way to begin a new year would be met with wholehearted optimism for what lies ahead. Up to eighth in the league, seven points clear of the danger zone and now just five points off sixth, with a game in hand and with the gruesome insomniacs from down the road who occupy that particular position still to play.
Yet, with Newcastle United being what it is, we know quite well that we could be coming back up the A1 humiliated by a League Two side as soon as Saturday evening. Just like being 3-0 up at half time, despite it being the third such occurrence this season at St. James’ Park, just never quite felt as comfortable as it was. Even against what will probably be the worst side (other than one managed by Steve Bruce and his fat head) to come here this season.
While, with 12 points still to collect before we hit the magic 40-point mark, relegation is still a distinct possibility, the past two victories should represent something far more positive for our club. For the first time in years, the Premier League is actually a competition. There is no longer four teams automatically destined for the Champions League, just like there aren’t eight teams who will occupy the top eight positions, in whatever order they choose. No, this season offers a considerable opportunity for a recently promoted side, to maybe even push for a European spot. Hey, if Sunderland and Bolton can do it, why the hell can we not?
Of course, those two teams look like the sides to beat as things stand. But crossing the bridge is more than manageable given a few signings which could take us in the right direction. A striker, a winger and left-back cover has been touted by Alan Pardew, and I can only agree with that assessment.
Robbie Keane would have been my preferred choice to partner Andy Carroll, but if reports are correct, £7 million for a 31-year old whose pace is one of his main attributes, is a lot of money to spend. If this is what Spurs are asking for, then perhaps Santa Cruz at Man City would be worth an enquiry, or what about Jay Bothroyd, whose contract expires this summer? Although he is 28 and still playing in the Championship, in fairness. David Bentley would be a brilliant buy if he can rediscover the form he enjoyed at Blackburn and made him look to be the heir to Beckham at one stage.
Leon Best was brilliant against West Ham and certainly deserves further opportunities, but Pardew should not think we now have enough in the striker department. A proven top-class striker would be just the tonic, coupled by a winger who can cross a ball in, to take us to the next level and maybe just push on for a European spot. Apart from anything else, if the manger’s words are anything to by then I think we may be about to witness the problems of having a small squad after picking up a few injuries last night.
Having said that, if someone was to offer me a mid-table spot at the start of the season, I’d have snapped their hands off. So let’s be thankful for the small mercies in life.
And hope we don’t get beaten off Stevenage.
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