Anyone who had any serious trophy expectations for this season is way overly-optimistic. We're still trying to rebuild from the Souness reign of terror, not to mention losing Shearer permanently and Owen for the season. This season was nothing more than a write-off from the get-go, and as long as we finish mid-table or slightly better, it'll be all anyone should realistically have expected.
Thrilled that we're still in the UEFA, and hopefully we can get lucky a few more times, but I wasn't expecting any silverware this year to begin with. What the club needs to do now is get itself sorted out behind-the-scenes and start rebuilding from the ground up. We have about half the solid players we need for a good foundation - Owen, Martins, Dyer, Parker, Given, Emre, Duff (I still think he'll come good ala Butt) - and a decent few potential contenders - Milner, Taylor, Zog, Krul, maybe Hunty and Edgar, though the jury's still out... plus Nobby and Butt to anchor for another season or two. If we can line up some quality defenders and maybe another winger to alternate w/ Milner, another striker or two to give some depth to our attacking options, and we'll have a decent quality squad. Maybe not top-4, but we should be able to use that as a foundation to build upon.
Above and beyond that, we need to sort out our approach play because right now, it's woefully substandard. We have trouble stringing together passes, and with Owen, Martins, and Dyer as our primary strike options, a long-ball game won't work. Neither is our wing play, tbh. On the rare occasion when we manage to get a good cross in, we have trouble converting in the box. Our set pieces are horribly mediocre, as are our corners. We need a coach who can improve our play going forward, and a manager who can get our players communicating and actually clicking as a team. And honestly, I think Parker is just not captain material. He doesn't seem to hold the team together well, and I think the extra pressure of leadership is affecting his play. He seemed more at ease before he got the armband. I'd say either give it to Nobby or Butt, or give Dyer a stab and see what he can do. His return galvanized us against Arsenal and started us off on a good run, so he obviously brings some sort of boost to our game.
But what do I know? I've never even seen a live game...