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Stakes couldn't be higher in race for Premier League success

By Lee Ryder on May 11, 11 08:37 AM


When Newcastle United failed to qualify for the Champions League in 2004 it was deemed as a failure in the eyes of many Geordie observers.

To others it was classed as a major disappointment having qualified for the same competition via the top four in 2002 and 2003 under Sir Bobby Robson.

It was then put into perspective when the Mags were relegated in 2009.

Some punters will say the decline began when Robson left the club.

Realistically, it began when Robson stopped getting the full backing of his board via the transfer market - and it's fair to say that no budget capable of bringing Champions League football back to Tyneside has been made available to anybody else since.

Looking at the reaction of Spurs fans after their failure to make the top four this season there are certainly similarities but there are also some differences.

For starters although Newcastle already had an excellent side in the 2003/04 with Alan Shearer, Shay Given, Jonathan Woodgate, Kieron Dyer, Craig Bellamy, Laurent Robert and Jermaine Jenas - the then chairman Freddy Shepherd did not invest heavily in the squad the previous summer bringing in only freebie Lee Bowyer.

A frantic and expensive bid for Michael Owen proved to be a gamble that lost the club more than just £17million in the years to come - it took United from Barcelona to Bristol City.

Spurs have splashed out £12.7million in the last 12 months and missed out on their target of the top four.

Looking back to the "failure" of 2004 for Newcastle I guess it shows how much expectations have tumbled in the seven years since given relegation to the Championship proved to be a huge reality check in 2009.

But looking at Spurs' so called problems this season, it also underlines just how much that needs to be spent to succeed in the top flight.

Of course the world has changed from a financial point of view and huge risks can't be taken if you look at what happened to poor old Portsmouth, West Ham aren't too far behind them either.

In reality we are now looking at a league table of spending power - and sadly Newcastle fans know at this moment in time they are are not in the top six of that money competition.

To achieve Champions League football, Man City have spent £350million in the last three seasons.

In the last 12 months Liverpool have spent £78.1million just to nudge up to fifth spot and with Spurs in a situation where they will have to spend this summer just to remain in the hunt for a top six place, it doesn't leave much encouragement for the rest of the Premier League.

It's obvious that Newcastle United not only need to retain Joey Barton, Kevin Nolan, Jose Enrique, Hatam Ben Arfa and Cheick Tiote this summer but add another four or five bodies of similar ilk to their squad.

Failure to do so could see another mid-table finish at best with "second season syndrome" already flagged up by Alan Pardew on more than one occasion.

It's clear that United fans are far from content at the moment - but it has also been proved that you can't always buy success.

And only a summer of hard work in the transfer market will answer some of the tough questions that come the way of Pardew and Mike Ashley.

The truth is Newcastle are a million miles away from the Champions League.

And it will also take around four or five quality additions even to give us a team to get excited about next term - yet if players like Tiote and Ben Arfa arrive this summer it will at least relax the levels of unrest around the city.

Should that happen, United manager Pardew will have a fighting chance to build on some of the foundations laid out this season.

Pardew made the point recently that Mike Ashley would not be wasting money sending him and his coaching staff around the globe to look at new players.

But as another campaign comes to an end, only time will tell on the Tyne.

2 Comments

toonagain said:

Lee i'd like to see us compete for the Europa Cup for a few seasons and build a good foundation, thers no point going for europe and just simply failing. i think when Harry Redknapp moves on to his england job (thats if Wenger doesn't get it!?) he'll be remembered simply for changing his colours faster than a camilion and spending millions with little return, leaving the clubs to pick up the pieces. yes he has been backed by the clubs chacing a dream but he never really delivers. Harry Redknapp - 'An Ok Manager'
Next season we need to build on what we have or its going to be very painful to watch.

Ginola said:

If we had of not been silly in a selection of games early on in the season, we'd find ourselves pushing towards the top 6 right now. I know that can be said for a number of clubs but not all clubs have the platform we do.
We have some good players, and need more, for sure. But what grabs me is that looking back over last season, if we can get a big striker and a pacy striker with the addition of a right winger and a left back (if Jose does go)and if we can boost our bench with a couple of promising youngsters then i firmly believe we can be in and around the 6th place mark.

What we also have to remember is that our Manager has to know his stuff. Could Fergusson have galvanised the team to finish higher - i bet your bottom dollar he could have. There are a handful of Man U players that i don't think are good enough for our team, but they play well as a unit and understand what is required in each game.

I think we have a good team, we need to build on it, obviously, but in the right way. We should be aiming for 6th place next season - with a good experianced manager i think that task would be far easier.

Just my opinion.

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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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