The signs have been good over the last four game since our 6-1 thrashing at Manchester City that the players are getting used to playing together – they know what’s expected from them by the coaching staff – and we have played well in those last four games – well part from the last one.
It’s interesting that one of our best performances – in the first half at Sunderland – ended up in a 3-0 defeat after the referee awarded Sunderland a penalty and sent Coloccini off – and the worst performance last time out at Bournemouth got us a 1-0 win and our second clean sheet in a row.
Ian Cathro, Paul Simpson and Steve McClaren
Newcastle can continue picking up the points in our seven league games by January 2nd and climb the table – or we can slip back and still be near the bottom when the transfer window opens.
We hope it’s the former but it’s difficult to know what will happen because Newcastle have been so inconsistent.
We are currently 7 points out of 10th place so to dismiss our chances of finishing in the top ten so early in the season is premature.
Don’t forget what happened last season when after losing at Stoke 1-0 on 29th September we were second bottom with only 3 points from 6 games and sandwiched between Burnley at the bottom and QPR in 3rd bottom place – two clubs who were relegated.
Six games and 16 points later following our 1-0 home win against QPR we were 5th top on 19 points from 12 games – 9 more than we have 12 games this season.
At that time we were above Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham – so a string of wins can very soon see us climbing the league table.
The next seven games are really important because it will set the stage for the January transfer window and if we are still near the bottom of the league we expect owner Mike Ashley to spend some big money to bring some players in – a center-back and a striker being the positions that need strengthening most of all.
Depending on how Rob Elliot and/or Karl Darlow perform in deputizing for the injured Tim Krul will also decide if a new goalkeeper will be brought in on loan.
Even if we are in good shape and say in the middle of the table by January we still expect some big money to be spent – possibly as a guarantee of staying in the Premier League.
Last January Lee Charnley – maybe under instructions from Ashley – didn’t bring one player in but let the likes of Davide Santon and manager Alan Pardew leave – without really having suitable replacements lined up.
That nearly cost us our place in the Premier League.
That kind of thing will not happen in January although we need to let some players leave to make space for the new arrivals.
We expect Newcastle to follow up on the summer transfer window and bring in at least two top players to fortify the squad.
We’d be happy enough with Schalke center-back Joel Matip and QPR striker Charlie Austin – two players whose contracts run out in the summer and therefore can be brought in on good deals by Newcastle.
If we can do that a top ten finish is still possible this season.