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Stability or a Stab at Glory?

Posted on February 20th, 2011 | 56 Comments |

Newcastle United's European ambition
Should we aim for Europe this season?
Newcastle United are moving up the table and a European spot is certainly not beyond the realms of possibility, but is that what we really need?

After our great win at the expense of Birmingham on Tuesday night – a win that solidified our top 10 position and applied a little extra pressure on the teams above us, not least Bolton (our next home game) and the wearysiders, who are now within gobbin’ distance – it seems some fans are starting to turn their febrile minds towards the possibility of a return to European football action, via the ‘Europa League’.

Whilst that would undoubtedly expand, not only the coffers at Barrack Road, but the profile of the club once more, it would also give the fans some great away days and bragging rights.

But, is that what we really need right now?

After all, when we cast our minds back just a little, most saw this season as a NEW START for the club and, as such, would be happy with survival in the Premiership. Obviously others would beg to differ.

Survival IS key right now, but have the goal posts moved?

Is it enough to keep tight hold of our Premiership status and continue to build over a period of a couple of seasons, without the added pressure and/or distraction of extra European games, bringing with it more squad rotation, extra injuries and a depleted squad through suspensions and tiredness?

Do we have the squad to go into Europe and compete yet?

Even if we do go out in the summer and bring in a few players and spend some or all of the £35m, will those players gel enough to go into a European campaign? Or would it all just be to the detriment of our newly regained league status, with games coming thick and fast at crucial points?

Does this club need stability, built to last? If so, that is gonna take a bit more than a few good results, and a lot more patience from us the fans. It’s important to remember what we’ve just been through in the last couple of seasons. No matter how quickly some of us want to see us ‘up there’ competing for honours we must be mindful of how easily it can all come crashing down around us.

Let’s say we just aim for a fat dollop of stability and the odd pleasant surprise. Not unlike this season, for most at least. It seems that if we carry on doing what we’re doing on the pitch good things can happen, as the Lads have proved so well so far.

Is this emblematic of what’s gone wrong in the past at Newcastle, in so far as we string a few canny results together, get a half decent team together, with great spirit and we go off thinking ‘we’re there’?

Maybe we shouldn’t be going full pelt at getting back in amongst the ‘big boys’ in Europe. Maybe we should be trying to consolidate what we have built since our recent rude awakening over the last couple of seasons. It would be crazy to think we’d learnt nothing in the last couple of years, wouldn’t it?

So, are we trying to fly before we can crawl?

Feet on the ground, shoot for the stars!

Howay the Lads!

NUFCBlog Author: CLiNT FLiCK Cut me in half & it'll say Newcastle United F.C. just like a stick of Black 'n' White rock! CLiNT FLiCK has written 42 articles on this blog.

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56 Responses

  1. if you think of it with injuries clearing up we do have potential to play in europa add a few extra bodies in the side and we could most defiantly be able to cope in the cup but of course hit the 40 mark and go on our merry way :)

  2. abit daft this 1 ,if we keep winning games we could get into europe ,clint so are you saying we should lose games so we dont get into europe ?

  3. I think a football club can’t help but aim for the best finish it can. If Europe is a realistic proposition then we’ll aim for it and deal with the repurcussions if/when it happens.

    But I agree with the article in that we must remember where we’ve just come from and that survival was the plan for this season.

  4. I want us to finish higher than Liverpool. I think we have a decent run in and there is no reason we cant finish in the European spots especially as we no worse than many of the teams above us. It’s whether we can better consistently that will determine whether we finish the season with our dreams more than fulfilled or we settle for a happy mid table finish

  5. We have to go for as many points as we can – that’s obvious. If we manage to get into Europe that can only improve our chances of attracting decent players

  6. Well from a purely financial perspective we should definitely push for Europe. not only would we gain extra prize money from the Premier League for finishing a few places higher in the league table we would get the money from the Europa league as well.

    One of the main points that has been mentioned by the club has been to increase the revenue developed by the footballing side of the club. As well as the prize money mentioned above there would also be extra money from tickets for home games as fans would be keen to see European standard teams. So Fat Ash would be pleased as we’d be hitting the targets from the fifth year of his five year plan in our first year. Bonus!

    Say we get a few extra players in the summer (and I’m taking a realistic stance on this one as we always wish and the manager says he wants 5 or 6 and we eventually get maybe 1 or 2). The European qualification would give existing players a reason to stay at the club (Jose, Tiote), it would also attract new players that may not have considered us before without the Euro games. While it means more chance of injures it also gives us extra games where we can try other players out without jeopardising the most important Premier League results. While I’m not saying throw our kids in to the euro games it does give us another set of fixtures where we can make a couple of changes such as a promising youngster or a fringe player who hasn’t had any minutes or a second choice goalkeeper who has a sore ar5e from warming the bench all season. Look at players like Best, Ranger, Guthrie, Vuckic, Ferguson. Best couldn’t get a game for the first two thirds of the season, when he does get a game he scores a hat trick and now has 5 goals in 7 prem starts. Proof of potential in the squad that often goes unseen if we dont have the means to try players out.

    I’ve probably gone on a bit too long here but I can only see good things from Euro Qualification. What does anyone else think?

  7. I think we should try to get whatever we can this season – after we are assured of PL football next season.
    I would however add a bit of caution about next season. We should not set our hopes too high. Think how many teams came up, had a great first season – some even making Europe – then fizzled and sank the next season. I’m thinking Ipswich, Reading, and look at this season’s strugglers Wolves. There is a “first season” surprise factor which can be found out in the next season when they have been sussed. I’m not saying we’re that sort of team – just that if we over-reach our pre-season ambitions this time by finishing (say) 7th or 8th, don’t assume that we will go higher easily next year. Another top ten finish might actually represent progress, in a strange sort of way – by showing that we are a solid PL team and not one-season wonders. After that one would hope to see our ambitions soar.

  8. Of course survivial is the most important thing this season and anything else is a bonus. Financially speaking the way the TV right work, the higher up the table we are the greater slice of the pie we get and Europe would also be great for the clubs finances.

    We would also be able to entice better players to the club if European football was on offer and the likes of Tiote and Enrique may be more willing to stay.

    So, I understand reservations about Europe and hw easily it could result in an early flop and a poor PL season, but I still think the pros out weigh the cons.

  9. I totally agree with comment 7! Europe would be of huge benefit in reguards to keeping current top player and enticing more to the club. @ comment 9 valid point about the first season surprise, Newcastle actually had mostly premiership quality players when they came up so its not as shocking that we are doing as well as we are!!! With Graham Carr doing the scouting we could make some decent signings and take it from there next year!!.

    Come on the lads show the Bolton gits some manners with a 5-1 reversal!!!!

  10. Don’t too much thinking, Do the best for the present and anything will be fine. The most important thing is not we should expect European football this season or not BUT the next game against Bolton and it always be the next game.

  11. If we can keep the likes of Enrique , Tiote & Barton then i think with the addition of 3 good players to what we already have then a push for a top 6 spot is on next season . As billy12 points out we came up with a lot of premiership quality players that knew what the premiership is about so we have a big advantage over most promoted teams over the last few years . I wonder how many more points we would already have had if Ben Arfa and Gosling had not been long term injured .

  12. the team that got promoted wasnt a championship team it cost a fortune (colo, barton, enrique etc), we should be aiming for europe as we are as good if not better than any team outside the current top 6. If we qualify for europe it will help us attract better players and keep our better players. Our next 4 games are all winnable so we can do it.

  13. We have chance to win every game and we can lose it too, I don’t expect we will win for both of next 2 game but hopefully we can show our best form and I’m pretty sure our lads are ready for it.

  14. I think the players believe we can make Europe and recent performances suggest that we can. When it comes to competing for the best players European football will always be a draw. Onwards and upwards and pass the Mackems on the way

  15. I love being ambitious, but I’m a firm believer of “one game at a time!”. Most importantly is WIN the next game..that gives you 3 points, the more points you get the higher up the table….etc etc. Be ambitious, but live in the now.

  16. away nights in europe are just the epitome of supporting your team. i’ll never forget Milan – even when the dorty bastards were peeing on us from the balconies and chucking little bags of shit. they just couldnt believe how loud we could be :)

  17. Off topic i know but just watched the old firm and fraser forster looks top class surely a future england international 6ft 7in nd only 22 but plays like he is 32.I would def put him ahead of krul!!!

  18. I think Foster could very well be our first choice goalie next season , can you imagine the lads confidence levels when he comes back here with a scottish champions medal hanging round his neck . The lad is a future England keeper .

  19. the only stab relevent,in this thread is the one between the shoulder blades,delivered by mike ashley,every step of the way.

  20. Europe or not.

    I find it difficult to answer. Yes great for the profile of the club. Will please Jose Colo and Ben Arfa. But they would be the type of players we would rest for the Europa League games so how can they be pleased on qualification. What sort of crowds would we get kicking off at 6pm on a thursday night? Admission prices would need to be cheap as chips to get a decent crowd in.
    We wouldn’t want distraction from the premier league. It will still be our bread and butter. Must secure premier league survival before anything else.

  21. Right I think that FA cup draw means Europe is off the cards.
    I think we have a great chance of finishing 7th but I think 6th is just out of reach this year.
    Unless Man City/Man Utd/Arsenal meet each other in the FA cup final, 6th will be the cut off for European places. Not sure is the inter toto cup still around? I dont know why teams dont enter it, it’s extra games but surely they just replace friendlies and give them a bit of meaning?

    Prediction 3rd of April we will be 6th but then just fall away slightly
    You heard it here first!

  22. Yes Clint, a fairly good overview of things as they stand.
    IMO we are still not a side with quality in depth, still a work in progress.
    If we manage to hold onto our better players, plus bring in two or three quality players, i would be more than content.
    I`m afraid selling “whats is name” gave an indication we are a selling side, plus the recent prices mentioned we would accept for certain players, does nothing positive for either players at the club or those possibly contemplating a move here.
    Being we are not a London side (with it`s attractions) Newcastle, although an attractive city in an architectural sense, is not exactly first choice for most players, in which case there has to be something else.
    Success, a team that has a sense of to-getherness, a good manager, a well run side, well compensated (good dosh)loyal fans, hmmm….
    We have some of the above, but if we showed a desire for success it could be a selling point to attract quality players, therefor holding onto our best players plus bringing in two or more decent reinforcement`s as opposed to a bunch of one to three million rated players is a no brainer.

  23. Chuckles stop referring to us as a ‘selling club’.
    Are Man Utd a selling club for selling Ronaldo?
    You have to judge every sale on it’s merit. It is too soon to judge Carrolls transfer yet.
    If we spend all 35mill (plus whatever budget we would’ve got anyway) on 4 top class players would you still be whining?

  24. @27……..we are 100% a selling club with an owner who’s ambition is in the bank spread sheet, not the footy pitch. If he can keep on selling players at profits, then buy cheap again and then sell then on again he will do so, even if it means he is making us flirt with relegation every season. he dont care at all.

  25. Solanos Trumpet

    Did i say we were a selling club? i stated selling him indicated that we were a selling club, that plus the recent twelve million indicated to Milan, it would take to buy Jonas.
    Personally I thought it was great business, thirty big ones plus a 25% sell on clause, for an untried striker with half a season and presently crocked to boot.
    Was i whining? sorry if it annoyed you !
    Look every club from Barca, the Milans, Man U.,
    they all sell players, sometimes they want rid of them other times it`s an offer they can`t refuse and in to-days game there`s always “what the player himself wants”
    But also there`s the fact that successful clubs,in general have little difficulty acquiring players from less successful sides and we have`nt had a lot of success recently.
    I1m not whining again am I ?

  26. Okay apologies Chuckles though “I`m afraid selling “whats is name” gave an indication we are a selling side”, seems to put you on the same wavelength as Craig on the post above you.

    If we had sold him for like 15mill then yeah i would be a bit worried. But we sold a wantaway striker for a fee making him the 8th most expensive player EVER.

    I will be pi$$ed off if there isnt some proper investment in the summer but I cant understand why people are criticising Mike Ashley at the minute.

    1)”He didnt buy a replacement”
    Well he tried keeping Carroll (rejecting earlier bids), but Carroll handed in a transfer request at the last minute leaving not enough time to buy someone without panicking.
    2) “Carroll only put in a transfer request because Ashley didnt give him a decent wage”
    We were only on like 29 points when he left, he has already had a new contract this year, if we had given him another one, and he apparently wanted one outside the wage structure, everyone would have been after one, then what wouldve happened if we’d got relegated?
    3) “Ashleys wage limit is hindering us from getting into Europe”
    This is the worst of the lot, we have just got back into the premiership, how thick are some of you? I for one wasnt sure where the goals were going to come from this year, lets become a stable premierleague club before we start handing out wages for a club thats in Europe. Our wage bill was the 6th highest when we got relegated, yeah it was Ashleys fault we got relegated but we couldve quite easily gone bankrupt.
    How many of you thought when Andy had gone and Shola got injured we were as good as relegated?

    Lets not rush into anything, look where it gets you, “big name players” on huge amounts of money that dont give a $hit about the club.

  27. craig @28 – to slightly change what I said on an earlier blog, you make Marvin the Paranoid Android look like “Annie”!
    “The sun will come out tomorrow………

  28. Just read the club has offered Joey a two year extension.
    Thats like saying you`r outta here, had it been reasonable at the minimum three years, ok !
    But two years ?
    There goes sixty grand a week or more ?
    I get the impression Ashley and Co. want the influential(and expensive) players Smith, Nolan & Joey out, the remnants of the Hughton clique, so to speak.
    And would`nt doubt Pardew had something to say in the matter.
    He wants to make it , his team and those guys are still fairly influential in the dressing room, hey office politics.
    All these midfielders we have been associated with, like we dont have any midfielders, Kranjcar for Joey, etc.
    Going to be a very interesting summer !

  29. moaning is just the English way. You could power the country with it. I think Franky Boyle made a comment to that on Mock the Week a couple of years ago.

    Serious, selling Carrol for 35M was brilliant business. Yes, it needs to be put back into the club in the summer or via improved contracts for our players who deserve it, but the actually transaction was amazing. Carrol was looking to be a good PL striker, but he’s not ronaldo (they they’re both c*nts of the 1st division).

  30. How old is Barton now anyways? 29? FSA brought him in back in 2007 when he was 25 or so, right? That seems like a world away. Pardew doesn’t need to worry about Smith. They simply won’t renew the contract and that’s done and dusted.

  31. batty,
    it’s more aimed at our(the fans) expectations than whether the team should win or lose games to assure or miss the entry into Euro competition mate.

    Thanx chuck.

    It’s gonna be an interesting ‘run in’ to the season.

  32. My take on the Barton situation is that I think a rolling extension system like this is a great idea. The likes of Alan Smith show the dangers of handing out 4-5 year contracts to guys on huge wages. I dare say Smith would be away this summer if it wern’t for his contract. Barton on the other hand IS more than good enough at this moment in time but this season is infact long overdue and Barton still is only really just starting to pay back the club that has stuck by him (on huge wages) through years of injury and a spell in prison. There’s also no reason to say that Barton wouldn’t get another 2 years after that if his performances warranted it. Think carefully Joey before you make any decisions, but to be ‘unhappy’ at the clubs offer of an instant 2 year top-up might be viewed as being a bit ungrateful by some of your detractors.

  33. DJG,
    aye mate,
    it’s all a question of age & when you go handing out 5 year deals.
    JB is 28/29 now, so 5 years would take him to 33/34, not the end of the world, but he could be injured for the last couple, a la Smith, as you point out.

    Seems like a decent plan, 2 extra years on top of his 16 months remaining, that’s 3.5.
    Providing it’s all true anyhoo.
    ;)

  34. I think The club could offer him a three year extension. There might be a happy medium for both sides.

    In fairness to Joey I think he deserves his salary, he’s our most creative player and doesn’t mind getting stuck in too.

    I see him in the midfield with HBA, Tiote and one other, that would be a decent midfield in my opinion.

  35. Nice blog Clint. At the start of the season I would have settled for 17th. If we finished there at the end of the season I would be a bit disappointed. I think our current position is where we are realistically compared to the competition. Europe would be a nice bonus, but I don’t think we will make it.

  36. Micky,
    ta mate,
    i agree man, i reckon we’ll just miss out.
    Although i’m not sure that’s a bad thing as it gives us somewhere decent to aim at next season & might help keep us (the fans) slightly more realistic.
    Don’t get me wrong, i’d love it if we get in the top 7 this season, it’d be nothing less than amazing really, after what we’ve been through, just may be a step too far this time out.

  37. I’m definitely of two minds on this question. The more competitions we’re involved in the more we’ll get injured and we seem to struggle w/that. If we were able to flesh out the squad, particularly the wings, defense (LB for sure), and add a little more realistic depth up front, then I’m all for it. If we can’t do those things then I’m a bit worried about the fitness come the holidays. Will half the squad be on gurneys in the hallway of some NHS hospital?

    Clearly though, we’re not gonna throw away games. That’d be silly for all of the reasons that everyone has brought up.

  38. Of course we won’t throw games, & shouldn’t.

    It’s a rhetorical/hypothetical question really, fought out in the minds of the fans.

    Basically,
    are we ready as a club?

  39. You know, it’s funny, in the NFL teams will do that to improve their draft picks for the next season… but they can’t get relegated so it doesn’t really matter. What position will we need to finish in to secure Europe? Hopefully the gooners will knock off Brum. Then we need one of the top four to win the FA cup. That would mean 5-7 get Europa next season, right? If that’s the case, we’ve got a legit shot. Wish we had those 4 extra points from the spuds/mackems matches. That would have made a colossal difference right now. Oh, we just have to take one game at a time and what happens happens.

  40. you jawdees are priceless you win a couple of easy games and think your going into europe forget it you shud concentrate on trying to stay up. your always getting relegated. dont get upset though i know you must be itching to get in europe and bag another big trophy like the inter totem pole thingy you won …….ha ha ha ha ha ha

  41. BOYCOUTT says:
    February 21, 2011 at 2:04 am

    This is exactly why I cringe when we win one game against a frankly pathetic team and all the blogs suddenly start talking up Europe. Bolton and Everton are not just gonna come and roll over at SJP, both are canny sides and in canny form, Everton having just knocked Chelsea oot the FA cup and Bolton with the seemingly unstoppable Sturridge. They are a big step up from what Birmingham had to offer. If the above contributor is a smeely monkey, I suggest you don’t taunt us about Europe, coz your team won’t be getting there this season and after all, at least we’ve been to Europe!

  42. Well, to be fair to brum, they were in good form and are typically hard to beat at home. I agree that over the course of the season, Bolton and Everton are certainly better sides. These next two home matches will obviously be crucial to any chance we have of getting into Europe. Frankly, I just want the points. Survival and a good league showing are more important to me than Europe. It’d take it, but we’re getting a bit ahead of ourselves here.

  43. It’s a mute argument Clint….I for one think we HAVE to try to get into Europe. Doesn’t matter if we lose the first game and are kicked out. Now hear me out before people start knocking me down.

    The players need to see us making good progress. Players like Enrique, Colocini etc would definately stay IMO if we make Europe. I’d hate to lose Enrique but wouldn’t blame him if European or Champs league team came in for him.

    It’s also important for the players that we hope to get in during the summer. Let’s face it…Ben Arfa would not have come to Newcastle if he wasn’t desperate due to falling out with his old coach. Also if he does fantastically well next season n still dont make europe then he will want to go when someone else comes calling.

    What i’m trying to say is…if we can make europe we should aim for it n try out best. If we dont have personell next season then of course our main priority must be the League. But europe would be good for morale, very good for generating some extra funds, good for tempting borderline players etc etc.

    Just my 2 cents worth.

  44. Oh by the way…very good post up Clint…got us jabbering away our thoughts a bit n nice to see how others feel about it. Just want to clarify one thing though. I’d be happy even if we finish in the top half never mind europe. And would be satisfied as long as we stay up this season. That was my feelings at the start of the season n it stays the same now.

  45. Clint you may want to revisit these thoughts, AFTER the next two games. We will all have a fairly good idea by then.
    IMO we are too inconsistant at the moment to make Euro pos. Think we will just miss out and finish about 10th.
    No mean feat that either after so many years flirting with relegation.
    Unfortunatly may not be good enough to keep our top players, but fingers crossed eh?

  46. We are a self defeating bunch us lot aren’t we? I’m the same. We can’t see what a half decent team we actually have. We sit and.secretly hope for a europa spot, but we won’t admit it. Instead we settle.for survival or like me, 10th in the league. Fulham did ok on Europe, so why couldn’t we? The first rounds are all teams at out level. It’s not until the big boys drop from the champions league that it gets really difficult.
    So, 10th it is then :lol:

  47. Chuckles referred to the reported £12m indicated to Milan, it would take to buy Jonas and if it’s true that indicates that bids are to be considered. Could it be an agent or an other interested party making mischie?

  48. Don’t lose sight of the fact that every game in a Eurpoean competition brings with it Euros and where there’s income involve, its got to be good for the club.

  49. The whole thrust of this blog was ‘are we ready’?
    It was based on the fact that some(quite a few) fans were starting to mention the possibility of a Euro spot.
    Personally, i’d be happy with survival.
    But it was to gauge where we are at in the minds of the faithful.
    Mid-table & a decent return this season seems to be the answer.
    So,
    a very sensible lot we seem to be.
    Although you’ll always get the odd ‘villager'(mackem) thinking that we think we deserve Euro football, but that’s par for the course, as they’ll always be jealous/pissed off that we are back in the prem & doing alright again.
    You’d think they’d be happy for us, wouldn’t ya’?
    :)

  50. Consistency is what we need for sure. 6 points from the next two homes would be a very good step towards that, but it’s a big ask. I think we have a excellent core. We just need a bit more quality in depth, esp up front. Any way you look at it, I think this has been a good season and we’ll see it out and be pleased where we ended up, I think. I have my doubts about Europe, but we’re by no means out of the hunt. We just need to consistently secure points. If we do that we could finish 6th or 7th. The match at Anfield could be a proverbial 6 pointer. Holding on to a share of the points at Stamford bridge could prove pivotal as well. What we really need to do is make games like that irrelevant by winning as much as we can outside of those sorts of matches.

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