Getting the priorities right

By Lee Ryder on Sep 21, 10 01:07 PM

Newcastle United boss Chris Hughton is as honest as they come - and ahead of the trip to Chelsea, the gaffer wanted to make it clear to Toon fans that he was making "significant changes" to his side.

Gone, it would appear, are the days of even harbouring hopes of winning a trophy the word from boardrooms up and down the country, given the financial climate, is that this is the way forward.

Winning the FA Cup and even reaching the final last year has done very little for Portsmouth as they sit slumped in the lower reaches of the Championship.

By the same token when Middlesbrough won the Carling Cup in 2004, it brought a feel-good factor to the club which not only sent them into Europe but paved the way for the UEFA Cup the next season via the league - and some memorable Euro nights along the way for the fans.

Surely staying up AND trying to win the Carling Cup should be a possibility for Newcastle?

So, it would appear that Hughton's policy of resting/protecting his key men for the Premier League is, at this moment in time, the right way to go about business.

Have we reached the stage where survival in the Premier League means more than winning something?

It would appear so - even if you are yet to see Newcastle win something worth winning in your lifetime.

Surely the Carling Cup with all its spin offs is worth winning?

Financially, you'd have to say no - despite a place in the Europa League on offer for the eventual winners.

But winning trophies SHOULD be the lifeblood of the game - not that we'd know much about that!

Man U took the trophy last season and won £100,000 in prize money - but for Newcastle this season they'd get about £7,000,000 if they finished in 13th place and £3.2 million for finishing fourth bottom - to go with next season's TV money.

So, the consequences of the cautious approach see a much changed Newcastle take on a young Chelsea team at Stamford Bridge.

This will give young players at Newcastle some much needed experience but the debate remains open.

If Newcastle lose, it will be deemed as another wasted opportunity to end the trophy drought.

And if teams are going to mess about with the League Cup playing reserve sides, dwindling gates in the early round leave you wondering if the whole thing is worth it full stop?

I'd like to say yes, but it appears that the Carling Cup has lost its fizz.


Geordie Lee said:

It's a sad indictment of the modern game that many clubs (not just Premier League ones either) will play weakened teams in the League Cup. That said, in the last six seasons, Man Utd have won it three times and Chelsea twice!

Perhaps an even sadder indictment is that many clubs and fans would rather see season after season of mediocrity, laced with the occasional glorious victory, but always ending trophyless, so long as they stay in the 'promised land'. Would you trade one major trophy (Premiership or FA Cup) for 10 seasons in the Championship? As a fan, I think I'd say yes; but as a business, Sky's money is king.

Ryder's reply: Well summed up, I think you can stay up and challenge for at least the Carling Cup but this debate could well expire in the next 36 hours or so!

spence said:

It's a shame we were drawn against chelsea at such an early stage as it seems to have brought this type of arsenal-esque prioritising to the fore of the manager's, (and supporters) thinking. Had we met lesser opposition and gone through a couple of rounds then he'd probably not think twice about sticking our strongest 11 on the pitch.
Part of me would like to see CH go for it at this stage, but then there's the possibility of injuries to key players and the subsequent knock on effect wih regard to the league. Then again: what's the point of playing any game if there's no real intention of trying to win it? This attitude, IMO, is counter-productive. Imagine, for example, fielding half a first team squad and them getting well and truly trounced. Not only would this be detrimental to the team morale as a whole; what about the confidence levels of the likes of vukic, ranger, etc- wouldn't they feel as if they were only selected to play games that the club aren't willing to win?
For the sake of match fitness and rotation I think it's wise to make some changes, but to send out 11 players that haven't had any real playing time to gel as a collective force is pointless...cos they will get trounced off chelsea. They're definitely better than accrington stanley and so the starting 11 should reflect that. There's no point being involved in ANY sport with the negative attitude that many clubs have adopted with regard to the carling cup.
I hope we go for it tonight and, for what it's worth, here's the team I'd select, (with three subs/alternatives in brackets),

Taylor Campbell, Williamson, Enrique
Tiote (Smith)
Vukic Jonas
Ben Arfa (Lovenkrands)
Ranger Ameobi (Carrol)

Al Young said:

How did the Great Dane and Shola miss?!

Ted Baxter said:

Shola's a funny one. Talented - probably more so than Carroll - but the effort he puts in isn't consistent and is occasionally underwhelming. When he came on as a late sub against Blackpool, he was racially abused by some mong behind me for not scoring, something Carroll and Nolan had failed to do all game. Well done tonight. Great corner by Jonas too. Let's hope we have an easier draw this time...

Lew Davies said:

So Mr Lee Ryder is it time to eat some humble pie after the drivel above??? Chris Hughton has done a great job again. The team he put out had every intention of going for the win last night and aswell as winning also came away with a fit squad. You wouldn't have been very happy if he had played the same team that beat everton, had lost and come away with two or more long term injuries. This is why we have a squad of players, not just a team of 11. Its still possible for NUFC to go for the cup, even tho we will probably draw either arsenal or manc usa away in the next round!!!! HWTL

Ryder's reply: Hardly time to eat humble pie, I didn't say we'd lose and if you ask Chris Hughton what his priority is, it's the Premier League.
As for a team "going for the win", I don't think I've ever encountered a team going for a loss, the facts were a team hungry to impress won on the night.

spence said:

I wonder if Shola will get a break from the constant criticism now? In my opinion, the lad's a class player, is black and white through and through and scores consistently whenever he gets a run in the team, but the stick he gets is unbelievable, (lazy, has-been, never-was, not good enough, etc, etc, etc).
I hope he never reads the messages on this site, cos he'll probably put in a transfer request to go and play somewhere he's appreciated.
If he'd scored that chance he missed, (and Lovenkrands had scored his), we'd have ran away with the game before anelka had the chance to pull it back to 3-3, then not only would the BBC's not have been able to omit the missed shots, (and highlight the chelsea injuries instead), but people on here would have to shut their mouths about Ameobi....and maybe even support him again?

toonagain said:

well, i think its the way forward if all clubs do the same. the fringe players won't be that anymore they'll be part of a proper useful squad... its also brill just to be winning away from home. the lads are going out to prove they should not be forgotten and can slip into the main starting 11 anytime. well done lads + CH, CC and PB, ST


Lee Ryder

Lee Ryder - Proudly born and bred on Tyneside, the Chronicle's chief sports writer has followed the fortunes of the club over the last three decades as a Toon fan and football writer.

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