Saturday, August 14, 2010

View From The Away End

As part of our pre-season build-up, we asked the Two Unfortunates, Lanterne Rouge and Lloyd, for their verdicts on our prospects for the forthcoming campaign.

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Lanterne Rouge

The last side to dominate the Championship so clearly were Reading’s 2005-6 record breakers and I think the Toon have every chance of equalling that club‘s subsequent achievement of an eighth place finish. Such a lofty vantage point come season end would constitute fulsome success and a great deal to build on but therein lies the problem. Newcastle supporters rival the England national team for outlandish expectations and a dose of realism will be needed before setting foot on the Old Trafford turf on 16th August.

I saw the Magpies twice near the end of last season and both matches resulted in wins – over Peterborough and Reading respectively. The physical strength of the side is a major plus point and an experienced yet still relatively youthful midfield appears to be the team’s key attribute. I would expect players who flourished in the Championship having previously struggled a level up to maintain their recaptured confidence – Enrique and Coloccini will be much better this time round. The one doubt may be up front where Carroll is unproven in this company and the likes of Lovenkrands, Best and Ameobi are unlikely to tear through EPL defences.

Of the new signings, I am surprised that the usually sensible Chris Hughton has turned to Sol Campbell, whose best days are surely long ago now. Dan Gosling might be useful, although I am sure the club would have preferred Jack Rodwell when it comes to young Evertonians. James Perch is another low-key signing and I am sure the Geordie Nation is wailing about lack of ambition but, given funds and given the exemplary performance of last season’s vintage, Hughton is probably wise not to elasticate the wage bill or transfer pot. A top ten finish.


Newcastle supporters will rightly feel that their club has returned to its natural habitat, but from afar I predict at least another year out of the limelight; personally, I think the Magpies will do well to finish above 15th. Hughton’s summer signings are symptomatic of a club with limited resources: Sol Campbell was, of course, on the losing side to Morecambe last term; the still developing Dan Gosling will be on the mend for the first part of the season; and plenty of neutrals would have listed at least another player or three ahead of James Perch on a Most Wanted list of Forest’s 2009-10 squad. As my partner in bloggery Lanterne Rouge states, expectations should therefore be adjusted accordingly.

The modest build-up shouldn’t be perceived as doom and gloom, though. A progressive transfer policy whereby young, hungry English players are signed up on reasonable wages rather than gambling big on reputation sounds like a wise plan to me, particularly given the amount of money the club has frittered away on mercurial talents in recent times. Having spent a season in the Championship, Newcastle supporters should know by now that there’s bargains to be had out there.

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Thanks to both Lanterne Rouge and Lloyd, fresh from pulling together their own staggeringly comprehensive preview for all 72 Championship, League One and League Two clubs (with one notable exception) with the assistance of a whole host of fans and bloggers the length and breadth of the country. The six parts can be found here, here, here, here, here and here.


Anonymous Jacob said...

I have no grand expectations for this club. I know at times we are going to get kicked around but I think handle ourselves to were we can finish around the middle of the table. If we stay up at the end then I am a happy man and proud to support the greatest club in the world!!

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