A summer of recruiting and spending (to a degree) sent the Toon Army into the latest edition of the Premier League with rightful cause for optimism. The arrivals of Emmanuel Riviere, Remy Cabella and Siem de Jong in particular could only be a harbinger for good things, right? 180 minutes and 0 goals later, the feel-good era of the Alan Pardew Redemption Tour™ is in definite danger of jumping off the tracks.
Never fear! Alan Pardew will be taking the same squad to Gillingham as he took to the scoreless draw at Villa Park – ostensibly as signal of intent to pay some heed to the Cup competitions this year. In reality, it seems much more likely that his doing so will be more of an exercise in finding the net before the next set of 90 minutes in the Premier League comes around. This, of course is speculation. What follows is most decidedly not.
On Monday, Newcastle United's reserves took on Reading's reserves with the side featuring some names that you would expect such as Sammy Ameobi who seems to now be second in consideration for "young left wing attacker who can make an impact for Newcastle" alongside a name or two who you might not have suggested as being a Reserve Team player such as exiled Hatem Ben Arfa or Geordie Hope For The Goalscoring Future Adam Armstrong. (SIDE NOTE: I brought Adam Armstrong in to my Falkirk side in FM2014 on a free after Newcastle didn't extend his contract. He now struggles to even make the bench for an SPL side. As we know, FM = life, so there's no need to read the rest of this piece). It's amusing because last year or any previous in the Alan Pardew Era, each of these players would be firmly in consideration for a spot v. Gillingham and easy scapegoats when squad selection backfired on him. In this selective moment, however, it is a frustration that these three players accounted for all of NUFC Reserves' 5-2 victory over Reading.
There seems to be no video evidence that Hatem Ben Arfa pulled off one of the lovely bits of individual skill that make us cling to the hope that some day he may be a consistent contributor to the side. I don't think you'll bee seeing video confirmation that Sammy Ameobi scored from a corner kick (supposedly on purpose... but... eh...). Enter young Armstrong who went ham on the Reading defense to the tune of a hat trick which my US Public Schooling tells me is > 0 goals and on average much better per 90 minutes than 0 goals. But I could be inaccurate.
So we could potentially find ourselves in the dangerous situation of running out our first-choice "strike force" who, even if they double their previous output this season could take the Toon Army to near irretrievable levels of disenchantment already while players who would normally have been in the frame for such a match just put 5 past a higher quality of opponent (presumably). Welcome back, Newcastle United. I've missed you.