Whilst in Newcastle this week, I thought it would be an opportune moment to talk football. After all, the north-east lives and breathes football, so why not?
It appears that opinions in this part of the country are strong but also divided as to how the remainder of this season will pan out. Languishing in the lower half of the table, without an away win all season, it's not what these very proud supporters would have demanded back in August.
The first local I spoke to, a seemingly knowledgeable taxi-driver, was adamant that the side are prime candidates for relegation. He has "seen it all before", he said during his 30 odd years as a season ticket holder.
Lack of goals and a leaky defence were his main concerns but he was also losing faith in some of Alan Pardew's decisions during games, particularly during the inept 2-0 defeat to Brighton in the FA Cup when winger Gabriel Obertan was substituted when clearly goals were required. This was by no means his worst game in a Newcastle shirt.
Now Demba Ba has been sold to Chelsea and injuries have taken their toll on the squad, the striking options are very limited. My taxi-driver felt that the Ameobi brothers, Shola and Sammy, were unlikely to score the goals required with their lack of pace. History and statistics back up his observations. Other stars such as Papiss Cisse, Hatem Ben Arfa and Yohan Cabaye are either suffering knocks or injured and the strength in depth, in terms of quality, is not there.
If the faith in Pardew is beginning to be questioned then people are rightly going to wonder why the decision was made to award him an eight-year contract. Not many managers last that long and particularly not at Newcastle. Pardew himself has admitted they are in danger of relegation. The January transfer window could well be crucial for the club and buying their way out of danger might have to be the only option. Can they unearth another gem of a goalscorer, a la Ba and Cisse? They may have to.
The second Newcastle fan I spoke to said the team just needed a bit of luck and results will change. He couldn't believe that a fellow season ticket holder could talk so negatively about his beloved club. Whilst he spoke with passion about the club he loves, I could also detect a hint of concern and alarm that maybe the remainder of the season could see the Toon Army get sucked into the relegation mire.
I am not sure which camp I'm in at present, but Newcastle fans will hope the taxi-driver is seriously misguided in his judgement. He did, I am sure, speak for all Newcastle fans though when he hoped that they could finish above arch rivals Sunderland. This is one opinion all Newcastle fans are united on.
If Newcastle don't improve fast, then they must hope that there are three worse teams in the league. At the moment there are but things can change very quickly in the Premier League and winning football matches are the only way to guarantee your spot in the division for the 2013/14 season. The question is, will Newcastle be a part of it?
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