The Calm before the Storm
By Jonathan Anderson
Wednesday 15 Aug 2012 09:37:00
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Well with a week to go until it starts all over again; it’s been a slightly unusual pre-season as an NUFC fan. Maybe it’s been due to a summer full of sporting distractions with the Euros, Murray/Wimbledon Final et al, and now the new national obsession that is the Olympics (both at St. James’ & London); but the usual pre-season build up for the whole Premier League, not just Newcastle, has been a strangely quiet affair. The managerial merry-go-round went into overdrive at the season’s close, but then, as the new appointments took their reigns and the other sports took the headlines, the usual pre-season transfer frenzy never really got started; with the exception of Chelsea, QPR and Reading, no one really seems to be going to town and spending heavy this pre-season. It’ll probably start moving the last week of the month; it always does, whatever happens though I’m sure Sky Sports and resident bellends Jim White and David Craig will be giving it big guns come August the 31st.

 

As far as we go, I still think we need 2 or 3 senior players in if we’re going to have another crack at the top 6 again this year, especially with a Europa League campaign to be thrown into the mix this season; a centre-back, full-back and forward being deemed the area’s most in need of strengthening by general consensus. If I’m perfectly honest though, I’ve been just as concerned with not losing any of our key men this close season as I have the potential arrivals. Thankfully the “Demba Deadline” has now passed and we can now start planning for next year with him in the side, if no one was prepared to pay the £7.5 million then, they aint going to be paying more than that now! Of course there is still time for anything to happen, and if a big team were to come in with a monster offer for one of our boys, then what will be will be, we’ll still have the nucleus of a very good side and cash to strengthen in the next window.

 

We have of course heard plenty of noises of players apparently coming in, Anita from Ajax, Douglas from Twente, Carroll from Liverpool and the Debuchy saga’s had me going round the bloody twist. It does seem like we are trying to get him on the cheap to me slightly, but after we pretty much robbed’em blind for Cabaye last year, there’s little wonder they’re looking for a decent wedge from us this year for another one of their best players. As for Carroll, it’s all gone pretty quiet on that front, but I suspect we have not heard the last of it. Whether we actually need him or not given that Ba’s now staying is a matter of opinion, for me personally, he’s the best young player Newcastle have produced since Gascoigne and I’d have him back in a heartbeat. If he was to return, the team has evolved and he would have to accept the he wouldn’t be the main man, with the team no longer built around him, as it was 2 years ago. What an addition to our arsenal he’d be though, any side with a strike force of Ba, Cisse, Carroll and Shola would be up there amongst the best of any teams in the Premier League. Then there’s also the distinct and brilliant possibility that with the £35million “Carroll money” we managed to get Cabaye, Santon, Cisse, Obertan, Ba, Marveaux and……Carroll!!

 

It is of course going to be a tough task to try and replicate the fantastic achievements of last season, but, providing all stay fit and by midnight on 31st August we still have all our key men in the ranks there’s no reason why we can’t do it again. Some may be expecting the Europa League to take its toll on our league form, but, if properly managed by Pardew, then potentially we can juggle both balls. If, as he has stated this summer, we prioritise the league and keep our big players for the those games, then we can use the Europa League as a sort of development programme for our younger players knocking on the door of the first team, who have been heavily involved and have impressed this pre-season; and as a way of giving our fringe players games so they’re sharp and match fit when needed in the league. At this moment though, let’s just leave the Europa League as a conversation for another day until we actually formally qualify.

 

So, as we get ourselves psyched up, and mentally prepare ourselves for another season following NUFC, and all the stresses and pleasures that it brings, we all know that last season is a tough act to follow. However, this season we will see the return of European nights to St James’ Park, and, given the players we have, and make no mistake about it, we possess some world class footballers, I, for once, am optimistic going into a new season. As the pessimistic and jaded git that I have become after years of being let down by Newcastle United, I know just how dangerous it is to feel like this going into a new season, optimism is an area I’ve long since leant not spend too much time in, but that’s the confidence that this squad, Pardew & his team and Graham Carr has now given me over the last 3 years or so. Of course, given our tough opening two fixtures this optimism could well be misplaced, but hey, it was only 3 months ago we were winning at Stamford Bridge so there’s no real reason to be too daunted.

 

As ever with football and NUFC, time will tell, and all the questions that we have for this season will soon be answered, just as more will get asked; the real question is……you ready!?



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