You can hear the thunder
Long before the storm,
But you can't hear the lion when he stalks his prey
He's moving like a shadow
Creeping up on you
And like a siren's call he's gonna have his way
The thunder has been there. The shift toward the current player acquisition model was a necessary one following the relegation of The Mercenaries; it has been well documented that the inflated transfer fees and gaudy contracts are not a sustainable business model for a club of Newcastle United's stature. Despite staying in the Premier League since winning immediate promotion, the shortcomings of the squad with regards to depth and sometimes quality were there for everyone to see. I could link to story after story just on this site about the need to strengthen the club and in particular the defense. Yet in now the 6th transfer window since promotion back to the Premier League, only Davide Santon has been brought in as a viable first-team option in the defense, and he has had his challenges of late.
As many feared might be the case, last year's 5th place finish and Europa League qualification proved to be the false positive that served as the ear plugs for Mike Ashley. The lion of poor squad depth and increased fixture weight on an already thin squad was completely lost on him. Hey, this squad finished 5th place last year, so surely it's good enough to finish that high again, right? The quality of the squad won't have depreciated to a point where we would be in trouble. It's just 8 extra matches, right? The siren's call of poor squad depth, extra fixtures and the inevitable "regression to the mean" all paired with a long ton of injuries was always going to catch up with the squad no matter how much one might try to convince their self that the squad would be capable of standing up to the rigors of European and Premier League campaigns.
You'd better run, forget your pride
Don't make a stand, just step aside
If you don't have what it takes
Don't try to play you'll lose your stakes
Remember this at least
It's the nature of the beast
Over recent matches, we have tried the "run, forget your pride" approach to tackling the Premier League season... which has not very much worked out well.
You won't hear a footstep
Comin' up on you
Movin' like a snake he's in complete control
This killer knows his business
He is the predator
You are his only target, you're his only goal
What will you say what will you do?
Your wildest nightmare's comin' true
There is nothing you can say
No way to change, he won't delay
This cain will have his feast
It was always going to be a difficult ask for Newcastle United to succeed this season with European football returning to St. James' Park too early. Clubs qualifying for the Europa League from the Premier League (those not in the Sky 6, at least) have a tradition of struggling domestically with the increased fixture load. When you don't have an Edin Dzeko or a Mario Balotelli to bring off the bench, or when you can't freeze out a Joleon Lescott it is a different proposition to compete on two fronts. Next up for Newcastle United is a match against Brighton and Hove Albion for a second straight year, and to be frank, if we lose out of the FA Cup to them for a second straight year, I'm not going to cry. We could do without the extra matches.
There is a way to change - it is not too late to salvage something (survival) from this season. If meaningful reinforcements are brought in at all outfield positions (not all 11, mind, but a defender in addition to Debuchy, a midfielder and a striker or winger), we could begin a system of resting players that may be enough to see us safe. Steven Taylor will be back from long term injury and should be relatively rested if not fully fit - if he had a new CB partner, we could rest Colo and Williamson who have both played a lot of minutes so far this season. If we bring in another midfielder, we won't have to depend upon 18-year old Gael Bigirimana who has all the earmarks of being a massive player for us long-term, but maybe isn't there just yet. If we bring in a winger (Loic Remy, anyone?) we have the setup for a rather fearsome 4-3-3 formation which was so kind to our no. 9 last year.
Running is not going to help. We must remember our pride, and if we do we should be able to survive this season at "disappointing" instead of "devastating" level and re-arm ourselves for that famous mantra: "Maybe next year."