Second Season Syndrome?

Posted on July 20th, 2011 | 49 Comments |

Hmmm thinking.
Hmmm thinking.
As lethal in front of goal as an African lion is to hunting down it’s prey, Newcastle United striker Shola Ameobi has recently been quoted on next seasons expectations at St James’ Park.

I’m not entirely sure who was conducting the interview, but I came across it via the ‘BBC sport’ website. Our number 23 had this to say:

“We know it’s always more difficult the second season after you’ve been promoted.

“I think first and foremost we have to stay in the league.”

I think that is a fair enough point, I’m sure all of us would prefer Newcastle staying in the Premier League come the end of next season. The ‘second season syndrome’ is a fear in which I am relatively afraid of, Birmingham being the most recent examples of a strong first season, followed by a not so brilliant second season (although they actually won something).

Shola also commented:

“I think it’s good to build a base before you push on and hopefully we can do that with a good finish mid-table next season.”

Outspoken Alan Pardew, has already commented this pre-season about the Newcastle board expecting a top ten finish as a minimum requirement for the side. Now, being only 30 seconds away from 9th position last season, I assume we almost achieved this seasons target early. Of course, last seasons target was to stay in the league, and to slowly bed ourselves back into top flight football.

In all honesty, we over achieved last season. Looking at our squad at the start of last season though, I was sure we would be fine (in comparison to other squads.) It was only really ‘expert’ pundits such as Paul Merson and Robbie Savage who foresaw our certain return to the lower depths of football’s elite.

So, in essence, has last seasons achievements accelerated our want for the club to really push on this season?

Well, if you take into consideration Shola’s take on the up and coming season, coupled with Alan Pardew’s comments on finishing in the top ten next season (please feel free to find Pardew’s comments if you wish, there are hundreds of them), then the club do seem to be content with a mid-table finish next year. To me, I can understand that to a degree. But there is that mental, passionate supporter inside of me screaming for a bit more also. Regardless of how much we have to spend, I feel that our current squad (with no outgoings), is only maybe, two or three decent players away from a top eight side. Now I’m not even talking about big, expensive players, merely just players in which can really improve the squad depth, and not see us up s*** creek when injuries occur.

There will be injuries, aren’t there always?

So I guess it is a little frustrating thinking we are only a few players away from giving next season a really good go.

I’m not saying our current crop can’t have a good go, but as it stands, if we incur one or two injuries (namely Demba Ba), we could indeed find ourselves in the same position as last season. The lads last year, really over exceeded themselves in some aspects, and I think it will be difficult to replicate some of the performances they produced. Not also forgetting, teams will be slightly more wary of us, than they were last season. In contrast I would hope we too, are more wary about the ‘lesser’ teams coming to St James’ Park, and put in better performances like those against Stoke and Blackburn at home.

There is of course still six weeks to go of the transfer window. I am a sceptic with regards to Mike Ashley, especially with how previous transfer windows have panned out. Some, who are reading this, may think he is wonderful, some may even think he is an evil spirit sent to overlook the Geordie apocalypse…

It is he who has the final say on transfers in and out of the club.

So whatever your take on him is, I’d like to know what your realistic expectations are for next season.

Are we a top ten team already? Are we relegation fodder? How close are we to over achieving, and what else do you think the squad needs?



NUFCBlog Author: Jimbob Backpacker extraordinaire and current resident of sunny Sheffield. Loves Marmite, hates peanut butter. Sleeps twice a day, wrestles Polar Bears because he can and regards himself as cool as a cucumber in a bowl of hot sauce. Jimbob has written 40 articles on this blog.

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49 Responses

  1. Second season syndrome is something put about by Pardew and looks like it has got to Shola.

    I am sure i read somewhere that only 4 Premier League clubs have been relegated in the 2nd season after promotion. Pardew seems to be sacked in his 2nd season.

    Pardew was supposed to be pushing for top 10 last season. he failed in that too.

    You are the writer, you can check how many teams have gone down in the Prem in the 2nd season. If its only Brum, I am more worried about Pardew than I am about a fake syndrome.

  2. As it stands right now I’d guess that 8th place would be a good aim but I suspect we’d finish somewhere in the 9th-12th range.

    If we recruit a top quality striker and perhaps give ouselves a little more depth defensively I’d put the range more like 7th-10th.

    We also have to remember that there are some new players who will be expected to play significant roles and they might need some time to ‘click’ with the existing players.

    Pardew needs to be up to the job of taking us further too, so it’s not just a matter of players.

  3. Just wrote a really eloquent and well thought out response and was just about to publish when my brouser refreshed on it’s own and I lost everything. Don’t you just hate it when that happens..

  4. John says:
    July 20, 2011 at 9:20 pm

    “I am sure i read somewhere that only 4 Premier League clubs have been relegated in the 2nd season after promotion.”

    I thought it was only three John? Ipswich, Reading, and Birmingham last season.

    ‘Second Season Syndrome’ is usually an issue for Pardew though, as that is usually when he is sacked, from West Ham (when relegation seemed certain until Curbishley saved them in the last few games), Charlton (after being relegated twice) and Southampton (for funny goings on in the dressing room).

  5. “In all honesty, we over achieved last season”

    cant agree with that statement! for me last season was nearly so much better! we got to where we finished with some fantastic results but had we built on our momentum it could have been so much better! January deflated what could have been an even better first season back with the teams around us beating each anything from 6th down was possible!

    this season coming id love more of the same but until we strengthen we have to be realistic and relegation is a strong possibility as our squad at the moment will struggle with injuries and suspensions etc i also cant see where the goals are coming from which is a big worry!

    as for sholas quotes i think he should keep his trap shut and try and focus for 90 mins a week ! giving 100% leading the line for the cause scoring 20 goals and creating more with his exceptional skill while also building up muscle on his troublesome hip that affects him so much after 10 mins of every single game for the last 12 years! is that to much to ask?????

    you can file that with the “im the man to replace shearer” quotes in the big book of shola nonsense!

  6. Toon heroes says:
    July 20, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    “Just wrote a really eloquent and well thought out response and was just about to publish when my brouser refreshed on it’s own and I lost everything. Don’t you just hate it when that happens..”

    Sorry to hear that toon heroes, these pages aren’t set to auto refresh or anything like that. If it’s gannin’ to be an epic, I would recommend doing it in ‘notepad’ and saving it.

  7. the”second season syndrome” does exist as there are a list of clubs who have fallen victim to the illness.
    the best example of the virus i can find in recent times,would be ipswich town.they had a cracking first season back in the big time,and found themselves in europe at the end of the season.although we could allude to the rigours of having a big enough squad,to compete in europe and the prem simultaneously,ipswich town were a classic case,of “riding high one minute,then down the next”.
    to get back to newcastle’s ambitions for this season,i voted for “midtable battlers”,as i think even with the new signings,we will not progress as much as some fans may think.
    alan pardew is taking a big gamble on changing the style of play of the team.i think he may be jumping into this a bit too quickly,for my liking.although i myself would like to move on from just lumping it up the pitch,i think we should have made the progress slowly other than trying to “run before we can walk”.personally i think we should have retained the services of kevin nolan,even if he wasn’t going to be a starter,even coming of the bench with his battling qualities,and leadership skills would have proved invaluable again.
    we all know the trouble we’ve had with players from across the channel,and the obvious question still remains,if the going gets tough will these players be up for the fight.demba ba is coming of the back of a relegation with west ham,will he have nagging doubts?,i also cannot see cabaye putting the boot in either.there’s always a risk of getting sucked into a “dog fight”,but i think we’ll probably have enough to keep our heads above water for another season.
    alan pardew could have equalled his best finish in the prem last term,but he blew it with bizarre substitutions against west brom.could that have been the pinnacle of his reign as newcastle manager?well we’ll have to wait and see.we also have to contend with the “ashley factor”,the season hasn’t even started yet,but we find ourselves involved in controversey,some not ashley’s fault,but also some typical mike ashley “lob a brick in the water”,with the selling of nolan,the uncertainty over barton,enrique and possibly some more fireworks before the window closes.lets be honest.i can see it being another rollercoaster.

  8. geordiedug says:
    July 20, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    “cant agree with that statement! for me last season was nearly so much better! we got to where we finished with some fantastic results but had we built on our momentum it could have been so much better!”

    We were erratic, which wasn’t unusual for a team which was at our stage of development geordiedug.

  9. Thanks for the tip. Don’t know why it happened. Hope it doesn’t turn out to be a browser syndrome:-)

  10. Ipswich, Reading, Birmingham, Hull, Bradford, Sunderland went down, off the top of my head, in their second season.

    Again this is off the top off my head, teams that struggled on their second season and nearly went down:

    West Ham (under Pardew / Curbishley)
    Wolves (last season)

  11. aye worky but had we added instead of selling in jan the atmosphere and the extra freshness of players might have taken us up an extra 3-4 points which would have made all the difference!

    i know carroll probably wouldnt have figured much for the remainder of the season but had we built on a fine first half to the season maybe things wouldnt have been so erratic towards the end

    im hearing pardew is going for a 4 4 1 1 with barton on the right and HBA just off BA its a risk to change your style but it might cure a few of the problems we had last season when plan A failed ie lumping the ball up front for carroll (or anyone in that lone role upfront) to hold it up and nolan to charge in! so we will see what the new season brings!

  12. Jimbob says:
    July 20, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    “Ipswich, Reading, Birmingham, Hull, Bradford, Sunderland went down, off the top of my head, in their second season.”

    Aye Jimbob, but the syndrome tends to imply doing well in the first season, which was true of Ipswich, Reading and Birmingham. However Hull and Bradford just about scraped through and the Tramps had two seasons of relative success under the gentleman in the photo above before relegation, so it was a question of ‘Third Season Syndrome’ for them.

  13. i really dont think there’s any danger of relegation, we showed last season that we were better than most mid-table teams…and we’ve made some good signings, but i doubt they’ll gel quick enough to push for 5/6th.

    i reckon we’ll have some cracking games, and with an extra striker, i’d say 8/9th would be realistic…7th with a strong home record.

  14. Worky,

    usually ‘well’ in the case of newly promoted teams is just to survive though I think. I can think of 7 teams who went down on their second season (6 if I’m wrong about the unwashed).


    Fully agree mate, if we had maybe strengthened in January (I think we were the only team to get weaker), we would have finished much higher. Add that too the amount of points we lost due to our inability to retain possession and concentrate (we lost 18 points from winning positions last season).

  15. I hope this syndrome desn’t come from over confident owners and managers thinking survival is a given!!

    Hand on heart i think we will end in a similar position as last season but i hope our football is a lot more attractive to watch.

    If the window only provides us with a striker and a decent left back to replace Enrique (inevitable departure?) then i would be reasonably happy.

  16. Jimbob says:
    July 20, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    “West Brom also went down on one of their second seasons”

    Aye, but as in my above comment, they almost got relegeted the season before they actually did get relegated, hence they didn’t fit into the strict ‘Second Season Syndrome’. I’m not sure that we did quite well enough with twelfth either, especially bearing in mind the size of the club. It should be top ten really I suppose.








  18. I think we’ll do really well this season.

    We’ve got real pace now, and can play a tight counter-attacking system away from home.

    I think Jonas might be pushed out of the starting eleven very quickly by Marveaux/Gosling/Abeid.

    Looking forward to watching some better football than last season. At times it was pretty dire stuff, we survived on guts and determination.

    A second quality striker would further improve my confidence. Erdinç/Sturridge. Long as a last resort.

    Ba is a gem.


  19. “cant agree with that statement! for me last season was nearly so much better! we got to where we finished with some fantastic results”

    Did anyone actually count the wins after January?

    From Steveneage on, we got 3 wins in 18. Who was the boss? mr 2nd season syndrome.

  20. milner i want some of that glue your on haha! but fair play to you positve thinking is the way forward

    i must admit im looking forward to the season come hell or high water it wont be boring!

  21. CLint>

    Cheers m8. Ur a legend if they work. I’m staying for the duration. Not like I need sleep b4 work eh? :D

    Btw have you checked Kansas’ website out yet. Just had a quick look for the hell of it and its just (ridiculously) better than NUFCs shameful attempt.

    Here a link:

    Some decent stuff on there and great to see our support overseas!

  22. at the end of last season ash must have looked at the 3 promoted teams from the – championship – and rubbed his hands with glee while thinking to himself – well that’s 35 million quid that wont be getting spent any time soon! i’ll get – comical alan & del boy – to spin a few yarns about the crippling cost of free transfers & undersoil heating.
    there’ll be a few unhappy punters – but as usual the majority will fall for yet another one of my strokes.

    as long as the – stink – of fat boy lingers around the club means we will always be in danger of relagation & that’s a FACT.

  23. Dan,
    that is a proper club website mate.
    The yanks don’t piss about do they?

    Top quality!
    Ta mate.

  24. No probs m8,

    Great free vids with interviews, training and stuff. Big shame we can’t get that kind of coverage eh.

    Thinking positive for tonight though, really looking forward to seeing the new lads play. Even more so to see if this new attacking, flowing style is on show. Early days I know but I’ve really missed me footy over the last couple of weeks! :D

  25. It gets like a wasteland with no football mate.
    Does ya’ nut in.

    It won’t be long before the yanks really get their stuff together on the pitch, the national team already does well.

    There’s some good craic on their site.

  26. The pitches look like astroturf don’t they. Not a mark on them.

    Enjoyed watching the Vuckic bit. That’s the most I’ve seen of Really seems to think highly of Newcastle, which is great to hear.

    Would be a massive plus if he can break through this season as well!

  27. I know mate, can’t praise ’em high enough really.

    haven’t got to the Vuckic bit yet though.

  28. It’s convenient for Pardew to lower expectations – he’s been doing it since day 1. He’s probably relieved we didn’t get that 9th spot – as it would be even harder to justify a ‘push for a higher position’ having spent nowt on new players.

    Who knows, but standing still is tantamount to going backwards with everyone else investing in their squad more responsibly – so we are taking a massive gamble on new and long-term injured players clicking, being ready for a long, hard slog of a season,,, and as you say playing beyond their means at times.

    The fact that supporters are even mentioning the word relegation with all that money sitting there collecting cobwebs is nowt short of a disgrace.

  29. Just in the ‘Newcastle arrives in Kansas City’ vid mate.

    Difficult game I think coz they’ll be a lot sharper than us tonight.

    I’ll keep looking for streams just in case. Let me know how you get on.

  30. Do you have to download a plug-in to watch the link on that site u mentioned?

    Just says am missing the plug-in at the minute. Wary of stuff like that.

  31. Being we have so many new additions to the side, it’s difficult to project exactly where we may end up this coming season.
    Untill we have the goings and comings finalised, how can we possibly project ?
    And should we get someone like Sturridge on loan, that could definately change the picture, i could see a vastly different performance than that of the unpredictable side of last season.
    If Cabaye can live up to expectations as the midfield general, laying on the perfect pass to a much quicker combination of attacking midfielders and forwards and with Tiote holding in front of an improving back four.
    Then this side could cause a bit of havoc around the PL.
    Plus we now have a bit of depth, with people like Gosling, Ferguson,Abeid, and perhaps some of our youngsters may make that step up?
    Theres also competitian for spots, no one has a guarantee on a starting role.
    From what i see it should be hopefully a more consistent season than last, but we still need a striker and a left back.
    I’m sure there will also be a suitcase parade of departing deadwood, from which we could find the money for our two further requirements and we know Ashley is not about to hold on to anyone who doesnt fit requirements.
    There’s one thing that keeps bothering me and thats Pardew, dont believe he has what it takes, believe he’s a case of “bullshit baffles brains”.
    But then whadda i know ?

  32. It looks like it Dan, i’m not ower keen meself like.
    Don’t wanna kill me comp.

    If you find owt else giz a shout mate, ta.

  33. Still lookin mate. Got nowt yet. Can’t believe our sh*tty local radio doesn’t even bother covering it.

    Is there something better on at 1.30 in the morning on a Thursday!

    Doing my heed in this. :(

  34. It’s unbelievable really mate.
    Any number of manusa, liverpoop, chelsea games.

    The yanks shoulda streamed it from their ‘lovely’ site, we’d pay to watch.
    They missed a trick there.
    Unusual for capitalists.

  35. Clint
    Nah ! ganna ask ye the same question, am ower here for the summer.
    Not missing the heat, actually could use some of it here, aint exactly the best summer weather right now.

  36. So Pool are obviously not going for Jose!
    It appears that contrary to rumor, he’s not being persued by anyone.
    Never mind a championship side.
    What does that do for his ego ?
    Perhaps he should sign the great contract Pardew was talking about, hey it’s not every week you get offered a five bob raise.

  37. Surprised it’s not available (the game)the regular US season is broascast on (Murdock owned)”Fox Soccer Channel”, which i assume has some kind of relationship to Sky Sports.
    Dont understand a guy driving 300 miles when he can fly there in an hour or so (to the game)

  38. nut job @ 48 – that’s what the frogs do when they wanna move – remember benny boy done the same thing with marseille.

    with so many of them now residing on tyneside i’d expect that to become the norm at the toon over the coming seasons.