Five consecutive wins, three major scalps and three clean sheets all achieved with in a span of four weeks!
And to think it was pulled off with four players all under the age of 23 of which three were nurtured at the Newcastle United academy. Positivity was not in the minds of the Geordie faithful a mere three weeks ago. Fast forward to present day and the story line couldn’t be more different.
A measly four points acquired on a run of seven games pointed to a bleak and long season. Early murmurs suggested Newcastle were destined to be fighting it out at the wrong end of the table as they became an early candidate for relegation fodder only a month into what was supposed to be an exciting season.
The club had invested well during pre-season. Although there were a few noises made here and there about the lack of a proven goal scorer upfront and a commanding center half at the back, Geordies being Geordies were as optimistic as ever as flair players such as Remy Cabella and Siem De Jong as well as young bloods Manu Riviere and Ayoze Perez were added to the squad. The season was shaping up nicely with Alan Pardew saying judgment on the team should be passed after 10 games into the season.
Behold! the season premiered with a defeat at the hands of the mighty mercenaries of Man City. Not too many eyebrows were raised as there were encouraging displays all over the pitch. As the games started to come in thick and fast however, points continued to be dropped and performance levels continued to wane.
The team’s game plan was not clear, players were being deployed out of position and there was a huge chasm of spirit and morale in and around the team. Frustrated, the fans started to call for Pardew’s head.
His defiance and unwillingness to yield was taken as arrogance. The fact that the new signings failed to hit the ground running combined with injuries added to the woes of the manager and the fans as well. Games which were considered winnable at the start of the season were being lost and the club faced a run in with top four candidates Liverpool and Tottenham in the league.
Title favourites Man City lay in wait in the cup with the match up against Leicester considered to be the last one for the incumbent manager. Disaster was looming and Pardew’s days were seemingly numbered.
Enter Gabriel Obertan, a player who was on the fringes of the first team, expected to be shown the door before the transfer window shut, came to the rescue! He scored the only goal, the winning goal in a match that was in danger of petering out into another dull draw.
It should be said that the team was showing signs of resurgence by earning two draws against Hull and Swansea in which Papiss Cisse proved that he has found his long lost shooting boots. After that win though, the team’s confidence started to get restored and the rest, as they say, is history.
Four consecutive wins don’t guarantee one a spot in the champions league, nor does it mean the team’s problems have all been solved. Yes, the youngsters are coming through, the defence has tightened up and the team spirit is up to the desired levels. But the club has to face the fact that we are still one injury away from chaos.
Too many a player are still on the treatment table and the squad can ill afford to lose another first teamer, especially after Gabi Obertan’s long term lay off, Pappis Cisse’s lack of full fitness and Cheick Tiote’s continued absence. That said, the team has now built a great deal of momentum and with two or three additions in the winter Europe might not be that distant a dream.
Howay the lads!!!