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Newcastle United: Loving the Surprise Team Of The Season

After the incredible 6-1 win against Manchester United, Manchester City are now the leaders of the Premier League, five points clear of their Mancunian rivals. However the surprise story of this season so far though is Newcastle United, with the Magpies in fourth on 19 points.

Last season the North East outfit finished 12th in a tumultuous season. Former manager Chris Hughton, who had taken over as manager after their relegation to the Championship, was sacked in December 2010 after a 3-1 loss to West Bromwich Albion. Former Charlton Manager Alan Pardew took over the helm and was not a popular choice with the fans. He was widely criticised by the fans through the media on things such as 606, the football phone-in show, for his tactics; particularly when his team went a goal down. Now it is safe to say that Newcastle is a football mad city and the fans are very passionate but it was sometimes unfair to criticise the manager. Along with this shock managerial change Newcastle United were rocked by the loss of top goalscorer Andy Carroll to Liverpool on the final day of the January transfer window. They then managed to consolidate their position in mid table, but fans were still unhappy with Pardew. So after last season seeming like a bit of a debacle, even though the Magpies did achieve their aim of survival, what has changed for them to be able to make such an impressive start this term?

Amazingly their great start has coincided with the loss of two of their most influential players in the summer transfer window. Kevin Nolan left to relegated West Ham for a fee of £3 million to reunite with his former manager Sam Allardyce despite Nolan being the club captain last season. They also lost the talented but temperamental Joey Barton to QPR after his spat with the board. However the club have signed plenty of talent in the summer which has led to their great beginning to the season. Demba Ba came in on a free transfer from West Ham and has already scored 5 goals in 8 league appearances this season. Gabriel Obertan was brought in from Manchester United. The pacy French winger looking more impressive for Newcastle than he did for the Red Devils although it still seems his final product is lacking. Fellow French midfielders Cabaye and Marveaux came in during the summer from Lille and Rennes respectively. It has led to a francophone midfield and frontline for Newcastle along with Hatem Ben Arfa who has recently returned after his horrific injury. All these players have looked superb and are starting to forge a great understanding between one another.

The whole team seems to be playing with a good team spirit and pretty much every player has looked impressive individually so far this season.  Goalkeeper Tim Krul has claimed his place in the team, with great saves as seen in this past weekend’s game with Wigan. Pardew has now gotten the team playing a 4-4-2 formation at home with Ba and Best looking strong up front. Great service is provided by Gutierrez and Obertan for the strikers together with wing backs Coloccini and Ryan Taylor so Ba so can get on the end of more crosses and score plenty of goals. Centre midfielders Cabaye and Tiote have looked to have taken an uncompromising stance in midfield with both players looking good with Cabaye scoring a great winner against Wigan. Pardew has really got the team playing in a style that suits them which is leading to them being able to win games and perform well.

Many Pundits are now saying that the Toon army should be giving owner Mike Ashley some credit for what he has done. Personally I think that they should give him some credit for getting rid of Carroll for a ridiculously high fee and finally giving Pardew the funds to bring in players. Understandably fans are still reluctant to give credit to Ashley with many more wanting to praise the players and Pardew. Fans are still annoyed with the way Ashley treated Hughton and previously Kevin Keegan and for the way he initially handled himself when wanting to sell the club. Not forgetting his cringe worthy exploits he got up to in a Chinese Restaurant, look it up, but it wasn’t a nice site.

Newcastle are the surprise package of the Premier League so far, but whether they will be able to hold on to a top six spot come May is another question but if they carry on with the same spirit and style of play it is a possibility. Some will argue that they have had easier fixtures so far this season, which is true with them playing seven of the bottom seven already, but you can only play what is in front of you and they did claim an impressive 2-2 draw against Tottenham on October 16th.  They have shown vast improvements due to their style of play and summer signings and top 8 is a definite possibility but top 4 may just be out of their reach due to the stronger Tottenham and Liverpool as well as Arsenal vying for 4th spot.

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  1. Peter

    October 26, 2011 at 10:16 am

    @ Luke, agree they are short on numbers in defense but Williamson is better than you give him credit for. He played the majority of games last season and looked pretty solid considering it was his first crack at the PL.

    @Ivan, it amazes me how some people come up with rubbish like that. Carroll is a quality player, he tore up some top teams, including Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea, during the 6 months of PL he played for us. The problem with him is that he needs a run of games to find form, which Dalglish is not giving him right now. Also, Liverpool are trying to play a short passing game, getting the ball to Suarez (if you’re looking for a despicable character look no further) in the final third. This does not play to Carroll’s strengths as he doesn’t get enough crosses to attack.

  2. Luke

    October 26, 2011 at 5:13 am

    Enjoyed the article Ally. Newcastle have good depth in midfield but they have concerns up front and down back. If one of Collocini or Taylor go down who comes in? Williamson is not Premier League quality and nor is Perch. Best and Ba getting the job done for now but Shola has just gone down with a hamstring and our depth their will now be tested. I hope the owners still look to pick up one or two players per transfer window. They are to be applauded for the good value buys like Cabaye. But hope they remember that some of our best players at the moment e.g. Jonas and Colo, cost good money. To keep quality in the list sometimes you still have to spend.

  3. Adam

    October 25, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    Good points James and I agree.

    As to the Carrol comments, to be fair I don’t think Carrol has not gotten a proper shake with Liverpool. When he moved there he was injured and played sparingly last season. If you set out a team to maximize Carrol’s strengths, he will come good as the talent is there. If Daglish chooses not to set his team out that way, that is his choice. Was he overpriced, of course he was but he is young and English and that comes with over inflation and little value for your money. Point being, I would blame the buyer and not the purchase.

  4. Gordon

    October 25, 2011 at 11:15 am

    Spot on James.

  5. James

    October 25, 2011 at 10:54 am

    I don’t think anyone should underestimate Newcastle this season and think they will be taking points off all the bigger teams. People are saying that they have not yet played anyone decent but before the season started all the pundits were tipping Aston Villa, Sunderland and Arsenal for the Europa places. It should also be remembered that they have not started with their strongest back four yet this season with Davide Santon yet to come in. (for those who don’t know he (20) was signed from Inter Milan in the summer – 55 appearences for them including champions league) Another plus is that Newcastle fans are yet to see the best of Ben Arfa, Marveaux and Gosling so they also have strength in depth in many areas of the team.

  6. Ricky Gill

    October 25, 2011 at 9:30 am

    I agree that they are putting on quite a surprise this season but, as you mentioned in the final paragraph, I cannot see them staying in the top six. Newcastle do have some very good players (Gutierrez, Simpson, Coloccini, Ba and the list goes on), they have a fantastic stadium and a good following. In short, they have all the makings of a top european club but I just cannot see it happening. I guess the doubt comes from them being a recently promoted side. I did not agree with Newcastle sacking Chris Hughton and lost a lot of respect for them after they did so but Pardew seems to be doing the job. It’s still a long way to go and who knows what could happen?
    Great article Ally!!

  7. Ivan

    October 25, 2011 at 9:23 am

    Credit to Newcastle for getting rid of one of the most awful, overpriced, overrated players in the history of the game, Andy Carroll. He belongs to Colchester, Harchester, Macclesfield Town, etc.
    For some reason, Kenny decided he belongs at Liverpool! As a Liverpool fan, I am ashamed to have Carroll as a Liverpool player!!!
    And good luck to Newcastle; it’s still too early. A top 5 start could end up in a 13th place finish. You never know in this league.

  8. Spotter

    October 25, 2011 at 8:15 am

  9. cgerv

    October 25, 2011 at 7:57 am

    They also lost Jose Enrique, who had some solid play for them.

  10. Bump

    October 25, 2011 at 7:50 am

    There are some good points in this article and they are well made, through an in-depth an prowess knowledge of the beautiful game

  11. Rob Hazell

    October 25, 2011 at 7:29 am

    It’s Simpson not Coloccini at right back, but otherwise interesting and insightful article.

  12. Ally

    October 25, 2011 at 7:12 am

    Hi Trickybrkn,
    Thanks the response and I appreciate your comment comment. I am 15 and an aspiring football journalist, (though I will probably get lots of stick off my mates about the looking ten comment, but hey I’m used to it being short).

    • trickybrkn

      October 25, 2011 at 7:19 am

      Well good on ya… and well done. and ok you don’t look 10. and you write like you are 21 so have that.

  13. trickybrkn

    October 25, 2011 at 6:33 am

    Maybe Alan Pardew has matured. I have to give credit where credit is due. His let the lads be lads approach has a certain bonding nature that lets teams gel organically. The second he loses the players, a riff opens up, I fear for the club. Pardew can be a lightning rod, and with all of the back room issues still festering and laying over the club like a threading rain cloud they will be a club to watch. On the pitch, Newcastle have a purpose to them. They grind out results, and if nothing else are entertaining. That may well mellow the fan base for now, but Newcastle support is no shrinking violets. They will raise up if the owner plays up.

    In any case it will be a drama worth watching in the coming months.

  14. EPL Reviewer

    October 25, 2011 at 5:46 am

    Ally Poole continues to impress with these articles. I have loved the combination of humour and good understanding of the league to write great pieces. I hope to see more articles like this in the near future.

    • trickybrkn

      October 25, 2011 at 6:38 am

      I love that he focuses on ‘the other clubs’ in the league. The main problem with other stories about the rest of us, is normally its a fans perspective, Loaded with support desire and subjectivity. Ally just puts out the bits and pieces we tend to over look in a media obsessed with the big stories, big clubs.

      How old is Ally? in his picture he looks like he’s 10, and I don’t say that to sound mean.

      • Morgon Marion Chalkley

        January 2, 2012 at 12:01 am

        i dont think there done this to you to hurt your own Fans Site but how can i get on to the Website to the how can i do this it is diffculit i need some help to to find it.

        From DragonsLayer

        From Morgon Marion Chalkley

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