LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MAY 13: Nikica Jelavic of Everton scores the second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Newcastle United at Goodison Park on May 13, 2012 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
After what seems like forever, we have a return to Premiership football this weekend, though for Everton and Newcastle fans there is one more day to wait before the Monday night fixture at Goodison Park. We spoke to the excellent SB Nation blog Coming Home Newcastle about how their season has been looking so far.
Stay tuned after the jump to read what John had to say, and click here for my responses to his questions.
RBM - Newcastle have had a middling start to the year so far in the Premiership. The excellent win over Tottenham was tempered by the loss to Chelsea. It won't be good to fall too far back this early in the year will it?
CHN - Honestly, the low-light for me was how flat we came out against an otherwise impotent Aston Villa. We looked awful, slow, groggy, and sometimes downright bad. The European Competition, while definitely what every fan wants, is already showing Newcastle just how much more they'll need to bring in in order to compete fully in a competition of that level. Our players already look exhausted, and we are insanely thin almost all over the field. Anyway, I think the goal this year is to be respectable in Europe and finish in the top 6 once again. I think many of the Toon Army were all ballyhooed to get into Champions League, but I think that goal will need to take a back seat until we bring in reinforcements. We need a win in Liverpool on Monday something fierce.
RBM - The international break seems to have done Newcastle no favors whatsoever. With the Everton fixture being on Monday, what are the chances that Alan Pardew will have a fully-fit squad?
CHN - We know it's not going to happen now. Krul will be out, so our old stalwart Steve Harper will get the start between the posts. This isn't too concerning. The back line is where we're really weak. Captain Colocinni is out for a few weeks, and Danny Simpson will also be out, meaning our back line is going to be pieced together with replacements and bench warmers. In the middle, Tiote is still nursing that injury he picked up against Spurs, so Anita will get another start, hopefully a better one this time. The front, thankfully, escaped from Senegal without harm.
RBM - Speaking of Alan Pardew, are the fans still as excited about him as they were when the Magpies were surging to the upper reaches of the table last season?
CHN - In Pardew we trust. Mike Ashley famously brought him in to "take the team to the next level" and he has done that magnificently well. Along with Graham Carr, our front office scouting superstar, Pardew has been able to ensure that Newcastle are truly competitive in the world's toughest league. One issue that Newcastle faces is that we haven't brought in seemingly anybody of note. Douglas and Mathieu Debuchy were on our radars, but nothing came of it. Carr, Pardew, Llambias, and Ashley have a history of scouting a player COMPLETELY before bringing them in, and it's got to be for the right price, so we trust them, but we are getting a tad impatient about bringing in reinforcement.
RBM - How did Newcastle do in the transfer market? Is the squad deep enough now to cover the rigors of football on four fronts this season?
CHN - I've touched on this in previous questions, but the short answers are "poorly" and "no." We need some serious reinforcements in the back line, insurance in the middle, and some depth up front. Basically, we are good but thin everywhere you look. It'll be curious to see how Pardew plays the group games in Europa and what kind of squad he puts out there. It might be a solid time to get some mileage out of some of our younger guns like Shane Ferguson and Harris Vuckic.
RBM - Looking ahead at the next few games for Newcastle, they play Manchester United twice in a fortnight, and have European games against Maritimo and Bordeaux. That should stir some excitement into the fanbase?
CHN - Excitement and terror. We have an incredibly tough run. Tough stretches last year undid some of Newcastle's momentum, and given that we haven't even built momentum yet this year, seeing the schedule over the next few weeks is a bit sobering. This international break has been the calm before what will surely be a very trying storm. That being said (deep breath)... Howay the Lads!
RBM - Finally, what do you expect to see from Newcastle at Goodison Park, and what are your score predictions?
CHN - It's going to be difficult to contain Fellani, but I could see Pardew agonizing over what worked for West Brom and trying some similar things. I think we escape with a point after a 2-2 draw
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