As a Newcastle fan, I honestly can’t quite believe it. Currently sitting fourth in the table. A Champions League spot! What a dream.
Now I know some of you may be thinking that I am getting carried away but if you told me that we would be 4th in the league after 12 matches this season there is absolutely no chance, I would have believed you.
After a fully deserved win for Newcastle at the weekend away at Spurs, the team from the North East are starting to show that they can challenge the big teams in the Premier League.
Even with Arsenal’s impressive form, the two main big boys in English football are Liverpool and Manchester City. When Newcastle travelled to Anfield in August it was the last kick of the game which robbed Newcastle of a point in a 2-1 loss – a 98th minute Carvalho goal. When Pep Guardiola’s team came to St James Park, the Champions only managed to grab a point in an electric 3-3 draw. Before this weekend, Newcastle were showing that they were a force to be reckoned with this season, but after their 2-1 victory in North London on Sunday, which took the club up to 4th place, there is no doubt from anyone that the club is progressing.
Many of you may think that improvement was inevitable due to the new Saudi owners who also brought in a new manager in Eddie Howe. When they took over the club from Mike Ashley, they stated their clear intentions of success by investing into the team, club, and the city. But as we should know, money does not always buy success. Look at the amount of money West Ham, Chelsea, Nottingham Forest and Manchester United spent this summer, all more than Newcastle, yet they clearly did not spend their money as wisely! The amount of money wasted on talent that never flourishes and on players that are unable to excel in the fast-paced Premier League are countless.
The back five that played for Newcastle at the weekend cost £5 million less than Maguire. The midfield cost £6 million less than Casemiro. The front three cost £5 million less than Antony. Money well spent I think?
When Mike Ashley was not investing in the club, I had no expectations of success or improvement and growing up watching Newcastle has not been pretty. Relegation scraps became the norm and the club was stagnant with no enthusiasm surrounding our prospects each season. We now have money available to spend due to our new owners but it I how the money has spent which has been one of the factors I have been most impressed with under Eddie Howe.
Yes, without investment Newcastle would not be where they are but Howe has done a fantastic job at utilising the money that has been available to him. £95 million was spent in January and that was something that Newcastle fans could only dream of under the stringent Mike Ashley regime. The five additions that came in last January undoubtedly improved the squad and were vital in securing survival last season.
England international Kieran Tripper has been a huge signing from last January, constantly organising the defence as well as creating goal scoring opportunities with his phenomenal free kicks and corners. He has in fact even created more chances from set plays than any other player in the Premier League this season.
After the looming threat of relegation over, the club spent £123 million in Summer making four key signings. Targett was signed permanently for £15.75m following a successful loan spell, England goalkeeper Nick Pope signed for £10.3m, Newcastle reportedly paid £35m for Dutch defender Sven Botman and the Magpies final signing was Sweden striker Alexander Isak for £63m. Isak has been out with an injury, but the other signings have transformed Newcastle’s defence with the team conceding the fewest number of goals in the Premier League so far this season.
It is not just the recruitment that has been successful, there are a number of players who have been at the club for years and Howe has been able to get the best out of them with many drastically improving since Steve Bruce and Mike Ashley left the club. Miguel Almiron is a perfect example. Scoring on the weekend, he has truly found his confidence on the ball, added the final piece of quality to his game this season. Newcastle’s star Bruno Guimareas has been phenomenal in midfield alongside fellow Brazilian Joelinton who, although currently injured, has transformed his game under Howe. With Allan Saint-Maximin still out injured, the squad will only be strengthened with his return.
Looking ahead, quality players are out injured and so the footballing world will be intrigued to see how, when Isak and Maximin return, the players can work together to produce even more impressive results.
I am not certainly not expecting to finish the season in the Champions League spot and Europe this year will also be a push but honestly, I am just enjoying being a Newcastle fan and seeing the players full of passion for the club, it is something special.
It is a great time to be a Newcastle fan. Finally.