Wer gannin back to Europe again!
A Wild and Crazy Season
Lap of Honor photo”I just think it’s marvelous,” said Sir Bobby after the win over Birmingham ensured that the Toon would once again be in the Champions League next season.
But it was a rollercoaster April in which Newcastle went from being a Premiership contender to scrambling for a Champions League place. But the lads made it. And we are all very thankful.
As Alan Shearer said, it’s important that the Toon repeat in Europe as often as possible. You don’t get that much experience from a one-off showing.
Other teams had their problems too this season. Arsenal went from being six points ahead of MU to being five points behind at the end of the season.
Even on the last day of the Premiership, many of the matches would have a bearing on next year.
Last August the Toon had a shaky start to the Premiership and soon found themselves in the cellar. Add to this the losses in the first matches of the Champions League and you felt that the wheels were coming off.
However, Sir Bobby performed his usual magic and soon the wins started coming – both in the Premiership and the European matches.
By Christmas the Toon were fourth in the English table – the lowest position they were to have – and thanks to some robust battling had got themselves into the second round of the Champions League.
The New Year was almost a time for euphoria as home victories continued as well as a few away victories. (But not enough as it turned out. This was the Toon’s biggest problem this year).
Again after a poor start in the second round of the Champions League, Newcastle had a couple of thumping victories over last year’s finalists, Bayern Leverkusen, and a courageous battle away at Inter Milan. Although it was a draw, the lads were done in by some sloppy refereeing.
It was now time to concentrate on knocking off MU and Arsenal for a run on the Premiership. Newcastle kept pace with the leaders until the season’s turning point against Everton and MU in April.
Some dodgy refereeing in the Everton game probably did us in for the championship, while the pounding by MU was a big psychological blow.
The following Easter weekend produced two more indifferent performances, and the Toon were struggling for Champions League qualification, especially since injuries were starting to appear.
An away win at Sunderland seemed to settle the lads down, and with Liverpool and Chelsea both losing, the Toon’s win over Birmingham set the seal for a return to Europe next year.
Alan Shearer had one of his best seasons with the Toon, and was rewarded with professional player of the decade, domestic player of the decade, and outstanding contribution to the Premier League by the Professional Footballers Association.
That the Magpies still need his skills and intuitive knowledge of the game was well shown when he missed the last three games because of injuries. Sir Bobby is setting up a team for the future with young talented players, many of whom have already had international experience.
With the prospect of European League money now being available it’s likely that he will be in the market over the summer for players who can make an immediate impact on a sustained league challenge. They need to cultivate the ruthlessness of champions.
Newcastle may not have won anything this season, but to finish third in the Premiership after fourth place last year is a brilliant achievement.