Sunday, November 18, 2007

Season Summaries--11. Newcastle

11. Newcastle (My preseason prediction: 14th)

The jury is still out on this year's version of one of the perennial underachievers in English soccer. For a team who believe themselves to be one of the major clubs in England, they haven't won anything in recent years to back their claim up and this season looks to be no different.

Are Newcastle more like the team who opened the season unbeaten in their first four league games or the team who's won just two matches in their last 7 played? Games against Liverpool, Blackburn, and Arsenal (Liverpool and Arsenal at home) in the next three weeks will prove to be telling for the Magpies and manager Sam Allardyce.

It's inexcusable that Nigerian star striker Obafemi Martins has started just 7 league games this year, the same number as the oft-and-currently injured Michael Owen and the lazy player that is Mark Viduka. Martins has scored a team-leading 4 goals in those 7 games (and 5 appearances off the bench), while Owen has just a pair and Viduka three tallies. There is talk that Martins will leave in the January transfer window and Newcastle may look to offload him, especially if he has a breakout performance at the African Cup of Nations and they can get a larger fee for him. Joey Barton should probably be in jail right now, Cacapa's nightmare of a game against Portsmouth on November 3rd (4-1 loss) has undoubtedly wrecked his confidence, and Nicky Butt isn't getting any younger. As I said before, Newcastle's next three games will show just what kind of team Sam Allardyce has and results will be critical for the Magpies.

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