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The City result and where Newcastle fit into the PL landscape

Posted on November 21st, 2011 | 57 Comments |

Demba Ba remains upbeat despite City defeat.
Remains positive after defeat
How do Newcastle United fit into the Premier League landscape? And will the City result affect us?

Saturday’s defeat was disappointing, although hardly surprising. I’d be very surprised if any team takes points off Manchester City at Eastlands this season. The fact that we only let in one goal in open play, looked fairly solid for the first 40 minutes and even managed to breach their defence with a goal of our own are all plus points.

Manchester City look destined to join that ‘elite’ group of teams who will always be there or thereabouts over coming seasons. There’s the big money three of Man City, Man Utd and Chelsea; behind them there’s Liverpool and Tottenham – neither team being short of a penny themselves – and perhaps the more modestly budgeted Arsenal. Based on the past few seasons and the way things look at the moment, I would suggest that those are the teams most likely to occupy the top 6 spots.

Yes, Chelsea are looking anything but invincible this season, and I quite fancy our chances against them at home, but a bad season for them would be to finish outside the top 3 and I think it’s most unlikely they’ll be finishing outside the top 6 any time soon.

I am of course making generalisations and it’s quite possible for a team to displace one of the ‘elite 6’ on any given season, although I would think less likely that they would be able to repeat that in successive seasons.

There’s nothing to say the footballing landscape won’t change of course. Another Arab Sheik could take over any Premier League club and try to ‘do a Manchester City’ with it, but the way I read it at the moment is that there’s a top 6 and then everyone else. The divide is broadly financial but not absolutely so and money needs to be combined with good management in order to succeed.

I still therefore maintain that anywhere from 7th – 10th is decent finish for us, with 7th or 8th being a challenging, yet realistic aim. How things look after the next two games might give us a better indication of what’s possible but, if someone put my gonads in a vice and forced me to guess where we’d finish, I’d say 8th.

Talk of a top 6 finish is, I think, premature. I say that not because of the Man City result but because I believe it has always been premature this season.

As to the future, I think a lot depends on what Mike Ashley wants to do. If his primary objective is to buy and sell players at a profit then I don’t fancy our chances, but if that’s a ‘sideline’ as part of a bigger aim then who knows? Our scouting network seems pretty good and that, combined with a rate of player turnover balanced enough that it doesn’t harm consistency, might give us the edge on the rest of the chasing pack and – possibly – allow us to push on further.

One big thing in our favour is our tenacity. I do not believe that the result against City will put us off our stride, which is an opinion echoed by Demba Ba, who said:

We have some very strong characters in the dressing room and I am sure this result will not affect us.

We are not going to struggle mentally just because of one defeat.

It was our biggest challenge of the season, and even though we didn’t win, I still think we played well.

The challenge now is to come back from this because we have another big game coming up next weekend.

If we play like this next weekend, but just take the chances that come our way, I definitely think we can get something from Man United.

What we showed here, we just have to make sure we show it again next week.

If we do that, but bring something more in front of goal, I am pretty sure we will be OK.

It’s a tough ask to get points at Old Trafford – Manchester United are no mugs even if their squad lacks the depth of Manchester City’s – but I don’t think it’s beyond the realms of our capabilities. On a good day. With a bit of luck. After sacrificing a few chickens and a virgin.

HWTL

NUFCBlog Author: Hugh de Payen I'm a baby-boomer of the punk rock persuasion, currently exiled in Somerset for crimes committed in a previous life where locals keep trying to poison me with something called 'scrumpy'. Hates sprouts, coat-hangers, Cilla Black, ornaments, Steven Seagull movies and 50 Cent (he's not worth 10). Hugh de Payen has written 634 articles on this blog.

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57 Responses

  1. 7th sounds about right but I honestly believe based on our performances and the current form of Man U and Chelsea we can get points from both games.
    Off the topic. Beckham is a free agent.
    Anyone think we want or have a realistic chance of signing him. He would definitely sell some shirts and from a marketing perspective he would be an excellent Ambassador for Sports Direct. There’s also the Nike relationship. He could come in as part of the naming rights deal, if there’s any truth to that!

  2. Hugh I think your gonads are fairly safe with 8th, but 7th may be on the cards.
    I’d play the same team against manure – they did little wrong & looked nicely balanced. Raylor had an off day but I bet he’ll make up for it, possibly with a cracking goal.
    By the chelski game Tiote should be fit and thats the only change I’d make.
    I recon two results = 2 points, possibly 4

    HWTL

  3. Beckham? Could he do a Keegan & galvanise the squad?
    Then come back in a few years as manager?
    Is there the remotest connection between him & the NE (don’t tell me his grannie was a fishwife at North Shield) or Pardew or Ashley?
    or ………Nike !

  4. LOL – Beckham, even Capello knows he’s finished as a footballer and I can’t see his stick wife wanting to hang aboot down the Bigg Mkt

    I’ll be happy with best of the rest tho think we can challenge for 6th if we have a decent Jan transfer window (i.e. don’t sell anyone and buy a couple of decent players)
    7th – 8th is realistic especially as we could have finished 9th last season

  5. I think we will finish mid table (ish) if reinforcements are not brought in during the January window.
    The only players coming in though will be replacements for players sold on to other clubs.
    Real shame,we could have gave a proper push for Europe this season but my gut feeling is that the team will be again dismantled come the next window.
    Collo,Simpson,Possibly Krul,Tiote…..we will never move forwards without major upsets happening.
    As soon as players we unearth play well Clubs already know that for the right price they will be sold to the highest bidder.

  6. Phisix says:

    November 21, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    “If we manage to get Europe…then why would our players want to leave as we would be on the up.”

    A massive wage increase Phisix?

  7. Irrespective of Europe if a player is offered massive wages and a big fee is going in Mike’s skyrocket MA will have his chopper out on the SDA helipad for sure.

  8. Agree Hugh. it will take an awful lot of investment get be competing at the highest level and that can’t be done via sustainable business practices unless we can find a way to dramatically increase funding with some revenue stream that other clubs don’t have. Don’t know what that would be.

  9. Hugh
    Could’nt agree more, a well thought out commentary.
    Yes ! there are decissions that have to be made, where do we go from here ?
    My take has been we (Ashley) are more concerned with the bottom line , than achieving success on the field.
    Look i got no argument with running a tight ship, there is enough prolifigate spending in the EPL to sink, even the largest clubs, many being over-leveraged, despite enormous revenues.
    It appears, (and i’m still not sure where to direct the credit) that the side has been either very lucky or has been organized into a solid and cohesive group.
    I realise we have some very talented players, but there’s more to it.
    This side has a confidence and a self belief, possibly as a result of losing only one out of twelve and having the stingiest defense in the league.
    The question arises, now that the club is showing it’s ability to compete, will our owner continue to spend in order to achieve that success?
    We need help at the back and quality in depth overall.
    Not asking to break the bank, but it takes money to make money, (European competition revenues) and to attract and demand high revenues, from advertisers (Nike)
    We have a great stadium, usually filled, the makings of a successful side, what we need are additional revenue, Two Nike Swooshes one on either side of the NUFC Name and Badge , not hard to take ?
    Face it who does’nt recognise the Nike logo ?
    Ah well, seeing we came this far be a shame to start selling and slip back to a bottom ten side, fighting relegation.
    Then what do i know ?

  10. chuck says:

    November 21, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    “Two Nike Swooshes one on either side of the NUFC Name and Badge , not hard to take ?”

    Chuck, do you really believe that one?

  11. As for rumors and wish lists.
    Rumor has it the club is low balling Simpson on a new contract and could lose him, BSA showing interest.
    We have i understand an interest in Nat Glynn an U21 RB @ Palace, as a possibly the targeted replacement ?
    However if we cant do a deal with Simpson, theres Tomkins @ W/Ham, also an U21 CD and a good young prospect, perhaps BSA would be interested in a swap deal?
    Sissokho has also been mentioned @ around six mill. a proven attacking wing back, who can also play in midfield (would’nt want to play against both he and Tiote)
    Problem is liverpool are repotedly interested also.
    Of course we have been linked to Pieters, i believe he can also play like Santon on either side, nice to have that kind of vesatility.
    But he is the quality LB we need to replace Enrique.
    Then there’s Jr. Hoilett, can play up front or as an AM,
    watched him in a couple of games this year, guys got pace to spare and is not afraid to shoot.
    As a free agent to be, could be one of the best deals of the window.
    Up front.
    It’s been reported Miaga is a done deal, however De Jong has been a consistent rumor also, though i doubt it, too expensive.
    But we cant put all our eggs in one basket, there’s also the Spring evacuation of all of the African players, for international duty and a number of French players, have opted to play for African sides.
    Well we can only wait and see !

  12. Workie
    “We live in hope and die in despair” !
    Even a synic like myself, has to live with hope.
    Besides some of our readers may believe it ?

  13. I think what the Citeh game taught us was we dont have enough quality in certain positions to compete with these top teams.

    Left back is a problem along with striker and/or support striker. If Fatman had bothered his arse to bring in a young, mobile quality striker then at least we could have put Citeh’s defence under a little more pressure.

    I’m not sure HBA does this No 10 role too well (although he played well on Saturday) I’d prefer to see him play in a mobile front three with A Striker and Shaqiri (can only hope :) ) or failing that Jonas, Marveaux or even Abeid ?

  14. Anyone notice Stoke gave up with the towels at half time after Warnock got his players to use them at every throw in the first half :)

    Two of the biggest managerial knackers in the game (Pulis and Warnock) obviously had a strop at half time and Warnock went off and brought on a towel from the changing rooms :)

  15. Andy Mac says:

    November 21, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    “I’m not sure HBA does this No 10 role too well (although he played well on Saturday) I’d prefer to see him play in a mobile front three”

    Well I’m a bit more sure than you seem to be Andy, and even though he isn’t quite back to his best yet, he was our best hope on Saturday. Of course, he can also play on the side of a front three, which is what he did in France mostly. What he can’t do though is defend.

  16. chuck says:

    November 21, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    “Workie
    “We live in hope and die in despair” !”

    Chuck, “Hope” is Nike taking over the name of our Stadium for £2/3/4 million per annum? That’s probably what it would be as Llambias’ £8-10 million is guff. Even eith shirts as well that would be too much.

    Is that just because you prefer it to Sports Direct? If it is, isn’t that more like despair than hope? ;-)

  17. Well, certainly things appear different at the moment.
    Having worked up an appetite with a few Amstels, then followed up with some stuffed shells, (three cheeses)
    accompanied by Rao’s vodka sauce and some garlic bread.
    Have to say the world seems a better place.
    As i said, we can only hope for a decent contract, in regard to NUFC, that includes both the stadium swooshes and shirt logos, be it Nike or whoever.
    Could’nt be any worse than the present strip or the present stadium logo.
    Yeah they indicate it’s a bidding war,to which i say bull***t… they wish !
    But if most of those interested in displaying their logos, realize it will be displayed for a large part of the game (East Stand) directly opposite the camera.
    And if Ashley spends a few bucks, could be on camera for more games than expected.
    Ah well perhaps wor Derick can explain it to future investors better than myself.
    After all what do i know ?

  18. Down to 4th and chelski, spurs & arsenal breathing down our necks! Well, its been great enjoying the dizzy heights of 3rd but the reality of 7th is approaching fast! And quite frankly that looks fair enough and will be a great achievement – well done NUFC.
    Where will we go from here?
    Great signings to consolidate or position and develop the squad?
    Or wheeling & dealing, 3 in 3 out to make some cash?
    The Jan window will define Cashley’s regime once & for all – over to you fatso!

    HWTL

  19. Supermac,

    I object to you calling me ‘fatso’, even with a subsequent exclamation mark.

    I’m not compared to a cricket stump for nowt.

  20. Sorry about the lack of blogs recently. I’ve got a sore throat and feel like I have one knife stuck between my shoulderblades and one knife stuck in the back of my head ATM. Hopefully, normal service will be resumed shortly.

  21. Workey
    Hope things have improved, if not take a good handful of medication and call me in the morning.
    or
    Some good whiskey, add some hot water, honey and a squeeze of lemon, may not cure you, but you wont know the difference after three or four !

  22. Worky – unless it was caused by an excess of good whiskey, hot water, honey and a squeeze of lemon! then no sympathy – but lots of jealousy!
    actualy, sounds a waste of good whisky (no e unless Irish) – cooking blends would do fine.
    look after yersel!

  23. are you sure the “one knife stuck between my shoulderblades and one knife stuck in the back of my head” was meant for you? you wern’t just standing too close to Mr Cashley at the time were you?

  24. Thanks Chuck / Supermac I think Hugh’s down today as well. Divven’t knaa what the rest are up to.

    Supermac, I’m as close as you can get to teetotal thanks to the nazis in white coats so I’m innocent there. I used to like a good brandy coffee at times like these.

  25. well going on what the papers and Newsnow are saying pardew will only bring in one Striker. so that is maiga

    even though we will lose two strikers immediately. Ba and Maiga.

    i’ve heard 4 other players mentioned that apparently Pardew has been targeting for a long time but haven’t been mentioned in the last ten years. so probably wont come to anything.

    joe cole being one. pardew apparently commented on him wanting to go to west ham and if he couldn’t settle in Liverpool he wouldn’t settle in Newcastle either.

    but i think 3 or 4 in with 1 or 0 out. or do i get the feeling there might be a few shocks in store?

    as for the nike rumor is seems to be, like most of the gossip, coming from articles in the people.
    it does not take a genius so see that the Puma deal runs out at the end of the season, Adidas don’t want anything to do with Mike Ashley and that would leave either Nike or Unbro(who are owned by nike) with any kind of decent kit manufacturer. so that leaves Nike as the safest bet to print a two bit story.

  26. Stephen C, when have shocks not been in store? If we have an abundance of anything it’s shocks and surprises.

  27. Stephen C says:

    November 22, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    “as for the nike rumor is seems to be, like most of the gossip, coming from articles in the people.
    it does not take a genius so see that the Puma deal runs out at the end of the season, Adidas don’t want anything to do with Mike Ashley and that would leave either Nike or Unbro(who are owned by nike) with any kind of decent kit manufacturer. so that leaves Nike as the safest bet to print a two bit story.”

    Anal. Enough said.

    You forgot about about Bukta Stephen. Get the lads sponsored by Bukta and make ’em all wear big sideburns, then I’d feel like a kid again. Colo wouldn’t have to change his hairstyle.

  28. Ba’s got it right. I can’t see us getting much or anything out of the next two fixtures but then we’ll be in 7th in the worst case scenario, with a series of winnable fixtures on tap. So the key for these games is to put in performances that don’t destroy the team’s great spirit and, of course, avoid injuries. As for the City match: mission accomplished.

    The January window will be AshleyCo’s defining moment at the club. With reinforcements we can certainly finish 7th. If we lose any of Krul, Tiote or Colo we’ll do well to finish comfortably in midtable.

  29. well worky we could always ask peter wolverine wilthe if he would come out of retirement and they we would be onto a winner.

    and if you noticed i did say “DECENT KIT MANUFACTURER”

    otherwise i would have added my personal favorite Lonsdale to the list.

    and when i say favorite i don’t mean my first choice i mean “the mike ashley book of freebies” favorite

  30. apparently we are in for another striker Dries Mertens of PSV

    Apparently “Pardew will look to Mike Ashley for £10 million to fund the purchase”

    does the journalist not mean stare? it will be a waste of time looking in any direction towards MA for any amount.

  31. All the best to Kaz Lua Lua.

    Pity we didn’t get to see a bit more of him, but maybe that tells it’s own story?

  32. Stephen C says:

    “does the journalist not mean stare?”

    “Pardew will stare very hard at Mike Ashley (while holding his breath) to see who turns purple first :)

  33. well lets hope its MA holding his breath whilst Pardew stares at him.
    and not Pardew doing both staring and holding breath.
    and if so lets hope Pardew can stare long enough.

    ever seen the Omen where that kid stares at people and they die.

    maybe we can ask both the kid from the Omen and Peter “wolverine” wilthe to come out of retirement and we are both laughing.

    not that i would want to bring any harm on mike ashley or lamearse. this love to hate relationship is a good thing me thinks.

    although so is shooting down MAs helicopter…….mmmmmm……..

  34. Clint

    my sentiments entirely. the thing is, did any one watch the Liverpool Brighton game a few weeks back?

    Zenga had Gerrard in his pocket, i cant believe he sits on the bench and i cant believe we let him go.

    but apparently he had a lot of gambling problems up here so maybe it was best for his own health that he left.

    shame though, i think he could have been worth a few million if he had have stayed.
    his older brother was wasted in our reserves i cant believe he didn’t get more games each time he played he looked amazing.

  35. stephen,

    i didn’t catch the brighton/liverpool game, so couldn’t comment on that mate.
    He always looked very quick, but maybe a little profligate with the ball.
    But didn’t really see enough of him to make me mind up.

    Did/does he really have gambling ‘issues’?..Sad!

    I think it was getting harder for him to break through here. We can’t afford to spend too much time giving games to ‘possibles’ just to ‘up their value’ in the transfer market. Games must be given to players that can ‘step up’, maybe he just wasn’t quite good enough?

    But, i hope he sorts himself out & has a good career.

  36. clint can you remember the bit of skill Ferguson showed against west brom last year when he skinned three players on the line to get a cross in?

    is was just as good as that but skinning Stevie G.
    he left Stevie G looking Stupid left him for dead.
    Stevie G had a look of bemusement on his face

    he even got a cross in as far as i can remember i was sat watching thinking to myself “why one earth we don’t play him i don’t know”

    i felt the same watching his older brother.

  37. i remember he played last season at one of the cup games. he looked amazing had their wingers in his pocket.

    i really can not believe we sold him. you can bet he will be playing prem football in 4 years and popping them in like this for a top ten side.

    Brighton haven’t won a game since he hasn’t played. he has been sat on the bench for the last few weeks doing nowt and they have dropped in form.

    check out the vid.

    i remeber watching him play last season thinking he was better than Jonas and in my opinion he could have been.

    his crossing is top class, his shots on target are amazing and he is too good for brighton and too good for championship football.

  38. Clint & Stephen C – agree – Supermac says:
    November 21, 2011 at 11:08 am
    Kaz LuaLua’s loan made permanent – isn’t he the type of young player we are supposed to be attracting and bringing on? I would have thought at least one more season’s loan before making our minds up – surely it wasn’t for the money (but I’ve seen no reported fee).

  39. i know supermac i read your comment.

    other than personal problems i dont know why we would have sold him.

    i heard he had a few problems with the “fish bowl” and that is why he went out on loan but at the end of the day loans are good if we keep that young player, not sell him on.

    yes it is selfish keeping every half decent young player that comes through but htis guy is more than that.
    if you check out my video above you will see that he has too much talent to be wasted on the bench but enough to atleast make the bench and i cant see any player better than lualua on our bench in his position.

    he play striker and winger, and we were is desperate need of strike force and this guy can pop a rocket from 30 yards?

    in the vid i posted brighton take a free kick, they dummy the ball and roll it to kazenga and he runs with the ball two of the opposing players muscle him off the ball but he manages to get his foot, whilst falling back and off balance, striking the ball and watch the ball hit the back of the net.

    there is another free kick that the wall didn’t even notice had passed them and even the keeper didn’t see.

    if im honest i think if he has had personal problems. i wander if they have had something to do with ranger? i could imagine Ranger to be a bad influence on the younger players if not monitored carefully

  40. Stephen C says:

    November 22, 2011 at 11:53 pm

    “i remember he played last season at one of the cup games. he looked amazing had their wingers in his pocket.”

    I noticed Rob Elliot getting caught out in a couple of those Stephen.

  41. that was the forrest game worky, this season and yes. he was bad. not sure what he was doing going down for a ball 5 yards away. keepers are suppose to wait until a player is near before they try to trap the ball.

    it was either the acrington Stanley or Stevenage game last year. i know they aren’t a top team either of them but i can remember zenger being our best man on the day. he had cross after cross.

    best and gosling were shite and couldn’t get on the end of top class balls and when they did they skied them over the bar.

    the poor kid did everything but walk it into the box himself.

  42. Stephen C says:

    November 23, 2011 at 12:52 am

    “that was the forrest game worky, this season and yes. he was bad. not sure what he was doing going down for a ball 5 yards away. keepers are suppose to wait until a player is near before they try to trap the ball.”

    No, I meant in that video Stephen.

    I think there were some bits of Brighton and Hove v Charlton in there, with Elliot in goal for the Addicks looking pretty in pink.

  43. yeah you were right. that was the free kick i was referring to the one he was off balance. he seemed to fire a rocket whilst almost lying on his back

    to be honest though i wouldn’t blame Elliot too much for that there was 20 players in front of him. it weaved in and out of them all like Mohamed ali.

    either way i think we have let him go way way to early in his career i mean no offence unless there is some first refusal option then by the time jonas gets a little bit over the hill then we will be looking for someone just like him to add some flair.

    every clip i’ve watched and every time i’ve seen him play he runs circles around everyone. yes he might not defend as well as some and being that skill full does leave you prone to losing the ball and counter attacking and conceding a goal like he did against Liverpool but there are another 10 players on the pitch there to counteract that.

    but its too late now. he has gone and left us.
    its funny though how it was supposed to be a loan until the end of the season and as soon as harper returns he is shipped off.

    there is something about harper lately i don’t trust or like.

  44. Stephen C says:

    November 23, 2011 at 3:56 am

    “yeah you were right. that was the free kick i was referring to the one he was off balance. he seemed to fire a rocket whilst almost lying on his back

    to be honest though i wouldn’t blame Elliot too much for that there was 20 players in front of him. it weaved in and out of them all like Mohamed ali.”

    Pay attention Stephen! :-)

    There was two goals against Elliot in that video. One where he draws him to his post then passes it to his mate to fire into the other side and the free kick you mentioned.

  45. stephen,

    some canny stuff there like mate.
    Though you do have to qualify that with: They are against league 1 oppo.

  46. worky i noticed both goals i was just testing your residual value as blog owner.

    Clint all be it league 1 oppo he is doing well in the championship and even when in L1 he excelled far beyond the rest of the players in the league.

    he is warming the bench at the moment but you could argue they haven’t won a game when he has. so the drop in form is either down to harper or zenga on the bench

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