For whatever reason we’re thinking of where Newcastle were three years ago, when on May 24th our last game of the season was at Aston Villa.
John Carver and Alan Pardew
In that game we didn’t play very well at all, and there seemed no spirit in the side, and we lost the game through a Damein Duff own goal after 38 minutes, when a Gareth Barry shot deflected off Duff.
And that was it – Newcastle couldn’t score a goal in the second half to keep themselves up, and as a reminder here’s the side that played in that game:
Steve Harper, David Edgar, Damien Duff, Fabricio Coloccini, Steven Taylor, Nicky Butt (c), Kevin Nolan, Danny Guthrie, Jonas Gutierrez, Oba Martins, Mark Viduka
Subs: Tim Krul, Ryan Taylor, Shola Ameobi, Michael Owen, Alan Smith, Jose Enrique, Jonas Gutierrez
And of course Damien Duff was one of the players who left Newcastle that summer, saying basically he was glad to get away once he had joined Fulham, and Oba Martins, Mark Viduka and Michael Owen also left, and they were all in that last day squad.
So it’s a little amazing where Newcastle find themselves now, with the chance of a top three finish, but at worst Newcastle will finish today in 5th place, and we go straight into the Europa Cup group stages of that competition next season – at least.
This is what Alan Pardew has said about the season:
“Third place puts you straight in the group stage and that is massive. That is a big, big jump for any football club.” “What it could mean is off the scale. It’s almost as great as getting promotion from the Championship to the Premier League – it’s that significant.”
“I don’t think there is any doubt in the group that they can play Champions League football.” “Next season is going to be even more challenging.” “We’ve got a European campaign, we’ve got expectations and we might lose a key player, so I’m under no illusions.” “But it’s been a great year and a year we’ve got to build on.”
“We’ve not cracked it yet. The top teams will be stronger next year. To break into this group next year may be tougher.” “This is where we want to be.” “The Champions League is the pinnacle of the club game, and for us to be competing for it is more than we could have imagined.”
“To finish fifth would still be a marvelous achievement. We are a new team, with new players and they have all done exceptionally.” “I can look all of them in the eye and know they have performed. It is astounding we still have a chance of third.”
“And there has been the spirit we have had in the group. It is a pleasure coming to work.”
It’s been a tremendous comeback season for Newcastle under Alan Pardew, who is so much better than we ever realized.
And three years ago there was simply no team spirit in that side over the last few months of the 2008-2009 season, and that’s one huge difference to the team we have at the moment.
All credit to Alan Pardew and his back-room staff for getting that pride and passion back into the Tyneside club.
Alan keeps talking about losing some players in the summer, and we have to think that’s because Newcastle have already had some inquiries, from top clubs like Manchester United as one example.
But even if we lose a couple of players, Newcastle will still be bringing new players into the squad, and there seems no reason why Newcastle cannot do very well again next season, with hopefully a bigger and better squad.
But first things first, and a win today at Goodison Park would end this terrific season in style.