This is where we belong
By Paul Marsden
Friday 17 Dec 2010 10:11:00
Browse all Paul Marsden articles

On the return from any good holiday there is always a feeling of relief.  A happy to be home kind of feeling.  This is the feeling that cursed through the veins of myself and I’m guessing many black and white fans on the eve of the Villa game.  Although our little holiday in the fizzy pop league with the likes of Peterborough and Scunthorpe has ultimately done our club a world of good, there is just no better feeling than being home.  The premier league is where we belong. 

The relatively straight forward success and the confidence that our season in the championship brought was enjoyable and long overdue.  We created a winning mentality that everyone in black and white has craved.   In all honesty though on my part, there was always something missing.  It just didn’t feel right.  There is nothing quite like your own bed as they say.

The top two tiers of English football just differ in so many ways.  There’s no wonder it didn’t feel right.  The facilities for a start, they just don’t compete.  The pitches were comparable to the town moor and the structures surrounding them having a likeness to the allotments next to it. Some of course were better than others but to be fair,  when a ground is as empty as the Riverside I don’t think that really counts.  I’m not having a dig at those lower league clubs (except Boro).  In fairness how can anyone expect them to compete with the money that is flying around in our new back yard?  I keep hearing the same old stories about how the gap is closing.  Absolute rubbish.  The reason these teams even come close to competing is that they spend more money after a promotion than they have spent throughout the whole of the clubs history.  It might not seem that way but despite not spending a lot, Blackpool have been smashing club records left right and centre with their incomings and outgoings and even then they don’t look anything like safe. Lets not mention their visit to St James’s eh? 

The championship is no less entertaining.  Football is football at the end of the day but the gap in class on the pitch is so ridiculously obvious. Our boys, who had previously struggled big time in the premiership strolled through the championship.  Players like Nolan, Gutierrez and Ameobi (when fit) looking like new players, sometimes world beating players.  I mean a Shola was banging in hat-tricks.  There is a myth that the tough tackling, combative nature of the championship makes it a real tough league to get out of.  What is that all about?  Yes there are always the upsets, the unexpected results, but when it comes down to it the quality players will always shine through.  The better player will beat this rough bunch of championship players who at the end of the day have basically found their level.  The reason they kick you is that they just aren’t as good as you.  “Newcastle will struggle with the physicality of the championship” is what so many claimed.  Who would you rather play against? The quality, the coolness and the sheer class of Rio Ferdinand or the nasty, kick everything in sight attitude of an angry Chris Morgan.  I know which one id fancy my chances against and it’s not Rio.  The premiership is full of international class defenders who don’t need to kick you to slow you down.  They merely outwit and outplay you. You can kick me as much as you want, but you just can’t play. You are there for the taking Mr Morgan.  I just don’t understand why people believe that this league is so difficult.  Even with the obvious gulf in class.

You only struggle to get out of it like you would any division if you don’t have the better players in the division.  If you can keep a decent amount of the players you have just been relegated with, unlike the Boro you will have no problems.  Our boys walked it.

To me the premiership is just as rough.  You’re just as likely to get kicked.  There have been some great crunching tackles over the years along with the odd horror tackle.  What makes this place different is the fact that it is coupled with some of the best, most entertaining players in the world.  Add this unbelievable quality to the already tough tackling English game and you have the best league in the world.  The Barclays premier league.

The differences between the two divisions don’t end there.  Perhaps the biggest difference of all is the effect that the premier league has on the fans. For me this is massive.  My support for my football club never has and never will falter but as I’ve said, something just didn’t feel right last year.  There is a whole different feeling inside now.  An excitement that begins on a Sunday night just after Match of the day 2 has finished.  That living for next weekend feeling.  The visit of Arsenal or a trip to Chelsea.  These fixtures build up inside you like a trip to Peterborough just cannot manage. This is week in week out in the big league.  It’s a whole city once again talking about football in a constant all that we care about manner.  The guy flogging the Chronicle once again uses the back page stories rather than the front in his famous shriek across Northumberland Street.  No more waiting for the second scroll of score lines on soccer Saturday or the second page on the weekends classified football results.  How good does that feel?   We have once again traded young Maniche and a hopeless Steve Claridge for the smart knowledgeable, sometimes even funny views of Lineker, Hanson and our very own big Al.  We are well and truly back.  You can work every day of your life but until you get to where you want to be or you land that top job you just won’t be happy.  You will always want more.  The premier league is where I want to be.  It’s where our black and whites belong. We all want more, we all dream of more but being here, amongst the elite, is a hell of a start.

Our return to the premiership season started with a bit of a struggle at Old Trafford, but it wasn’t until Villa came to St James that we really knew that we were home.  The build up was there, the atmosphere was there, Toon Talk hit the shelves and all of this lead to one of the most memorable days at St James that I have experienced.  The 6-0 demolition helped a little too.

In the last issue I followed up an almighty rant about “the statement” with a quite humbled opinion that we had not been affected by it too much.  This is still the case following the arrivals of a steady, rock at the back in Sol Campbell, the exiting Hatem Ben Arfa and the little known Chieke Tiote who for me has been outstanding.  Three bargain signings that have added massive quality and a little bit of depth to a squad already improved with the likes of Perch and Gosling.  The squad definitely doesn’t have the cannon fodder, relegation fight look about it.  We are definitely not just making up the numbers.

Despite this I still think we have missed a trick in not signing a quality front man.  As well as Andy Carroll has performed so far I think events in early home games against Blackpool and Stoke prove that he really does need a hand.  For me Kevin Nolan just doesn’t cut the mustard as a support striker in the big league.  I love the bloke.  I think his attitude and the way he plays are awesome for the club, I just feel it has to come from a deeper role.  I wouldn’t have both him and Joey in my starting eleven. They are slightly different types of player but it would be one or the other for me. Nolan just doesn’t have the pace or the guile to support our number 9 the way he needs to be supported.

By the time you are reading this we will all be in preparation for the visit of the mackems.  I don’t want to say too much on the matter but despite the ridiculous hike in ticket prices from a certain Mr Ashley we have to turn out and we just have to out shout, out scream and out play this horrible lot. The biggest day of the season is on the horizon.  Come on boys, do us proud. 

All in all it’s just great to be back.  

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