After Alan Pardew signed an eight year contract this week – scout Tony Carr signed one for the same amount of time in the summer – lots of eyebrows were raised. Eight years is a hell of a long time, especially in football, however it is a great vote of confidence for the Magpies boss and definitely shows they want stability at the club, as well as having a long-term vision.
How high are Newcastle’s ambitions though? After qualifying for Europe last season, only slightly missing out on the Champions League, I’m sure they’ll be looking upwards. It could be tough for them to challenge the ‘main men’ at the top, but if they can keep on scouring the market for value, there’s nothing stopping them. They have financial backing in Mike Ashley, but they tend to prefer to live within their means, opposed to pumping money into the coffers, with most of their signings in the last two years being bought for the same amount as the Carroll money they received, which reinforces the point about stability, Newcastle are looking up, without wanting to propel up, Man City-esque. Also, with the new sponsorship deal with ‘Wonga’ being announced, an extra £8M a season will be coming into the club, making the even more financially stable. A lot of people may not like Mike Ashley, but he really does know what he’s doing running the club now.
Their ultimate goals over the next few years would be Champions League and silverware, which could be a hard task, with the spending power of teams above them, that can also pinch their key players. However, if they want these accolades, I do think they need more strength in-depth. Ba and Cisse, even with the latter not finding his scoring form for the season yet, are a deadly strike force, which will cause any team in the league problems, no doubt about it. But what if they’re injured or at African Cup Of Nations? It only leaves Shola Ameobi, who loves the club, but is he capable of leading the line, and scoring as many as Ba/Cisse? I’m not so sure. In the midfield they are well covered, however, especially after the signing of Vurnon Anita, who is more than adequate cover for the highly rated pair of Tiote and Cabaye. I also feel they’re a little short at the back, with Taylor, Collocini, Williamson and Perch the centre-backs, four is an adequate number, but the first two tend to be quite injury prone and Perch isn’t a natural centre-back, however, being called ‘Perchino’ by some Newcastle fans, he must be doing a good job! Newcastle do have versatility and desire to do well, which makes up for the lack of strength in depth, and is what helped them be so successful last year, but do they need a bit more quality if they really want to push on and upset the top four? Probably.
Newcastle are definitely a club on the up, and a very well run club, which isn’t always the case in the modern game. They may not always play beautiful football, but they are functional and do ‘get the job done’. They have started this season being rather inconsistent, and I don’t think they will do as well in the league as last year, with more expectation and an eye on the Europa League, I think they’ll fall under the radar a bit, but still manage a comfortable finish between eighth and twelfth. The long-term future however looks extremely bright, with the backroom staff having huge confidence behind them and finding great value in the market, it may not even be long before we see Newcastle back how they were in the ’90s.
With further investment who knows what Newcastle United can achieve…