Newcastle midfielder Vurnon Anita has issued a cry to arms in order to raise morale within the squad. Speaking to the Newcastle Chronicle at a recent club event, the Dutch international cited the recent arrivals and also the upcoming Europa League knockout stages as reasons to believe this season could still provide some joy.
“We hope to achieve our goals. It is a crazy league and anything can happen in games.
“There have been so many games when I thought one team was finished and the other team came back to take something, so we must not give up.
“That makes the Premier League as exciting as it is.
“That is why you cannot say for sure we will finish in the lower half – it is all to play for.”
Following on from Newcastle’s long awaited first win away from home of the campaign on Tuesday night, the Magpies sit in 15th, 6 points away from the top half and still only 4 from the relegation zone.
While their immediate priorities should remain with putting as much distance between them and the bottom three as they can, Anita’s comments are great to see as the club clearly realizes they have been underachieving and must strive to get as high up the table as they can.
It is imperative that the club also equip themselves well ahead of their last 32 European clash with Ukrainian outfit Metalist Kharkiv, as progress in this competition would be a major bonus given the club’s dismal showing in the domestic cups.
Anita himself has at times struggled to impose himself this season, and may find his place under threat with the latest signings and also the return from injury of more recognized stars.
However, it seems as though he is determined to have a positive impact on the club’s fortunes in the second half of the season, and this is commendable. With his versatility, he is always going to be useful option, particularly is injuries strike again.
Meanwhile, Danny Simpson is set to battle for his first team place again after a deadline day move to Wigan broke down. It is rumoured that Newcastle turned down an £850,000 bid from the Latics, and with the player out of contract in the Summer it seems certain that Newcastle will now not re-coup a fee for the ex-Manchester United defender.
With Mathieu Debuchy currently the first choice right back, it seems as through Simpson will have a serious battle on his hands to regain his spot before the season is out. Yet, the competition can only be a good thing, and Newcastle’s squad certainly looks a healthier one now.
Where do you think Newcastle should be aiming to finish this season? Would you rather better results in the league and an early exit from the Europa League, or vica-versa? Get in touch through the comments section on the site, or join the debate on Twitter.
By Harry Aitkenhead