Just what can this Newcastle United side actually achieve?
Alan Pardew’s outstanding job of changing the fortunes of a team in a dead-end cycle and into a real competitor for a European finish in the Premier League has been great to watch. Even more so has been his insistence on bringing in players who can implement a much more attacking and impressive display on the pitch. The short-lived Premier League career in Newcastle of Andy Carroll might have left many fans with a feeling of great confusion and frustration at the direction of the club, but the work of Pardew to move the supporters and the club past that initial and necessary phase has amounted to a tremendous stamp on the Premier League.
Many Premier League fans should look to neighbouring France and the successes of the “lesser” clubs financially in recent seasons, or even the varying number of champions in Germany who, barring Bayern Munich, have assembled title-winning sides from transfer activity that could hardly be described as extravagant. But what about the Premier League? Is modern English football condemned to be in the hands of those who are financially equipped to spend their way to the top? Are Europe’s most impressive and desirable talents only available for figures upwards of £20 million?
The revolution at Newcastle certainly had something to say about all of that. The acquisitions by Pardew hardly caused much of a stir across Europe, but perhaps that helped. They have quietly and impressively assembled a group of players able to excite a football city and keep the crowds St James’ Park wanting more.
But it would be a tremendous shame if there was indeed a glass ceiling preventing Newcastle from catapulting themselves past Europa League football. It would absolutely be a stain on the Premier League if there were long term indications that the only way to succeed is if clubs spent heavily and unnecessarily.
The supreme talent of Yohan Cabaye deserves more than just a barely noticed display on Europe’s second stage. The attacking display and togetherness of Newcastle’s strikers Papiss Cisse and Demba Ba is one of the most impressive strike partnerships in the Premier League. And, importantly, the side’s best talent all have age on their side. With a few more shrewd moves in the transfer market and the need to keep their star players, is there much stopping a talented group of players working in harmony?
The powerful clubs ahead of Newcastle in the league would have something to say about an outsider trying to gatecrash the top four. But if last season were an indication of where the Premier League is headed, the top four may be up for grabs to more than just the usual suspects.
It’s worth noting that many clubs who make waves in sports do not just appear from out of nowhere, rather they’ve spent the recent preceding years assembling a squad capable of achieving results which may not be as far out of reach as many think.
What is good to see from Newcastle is that Alan Pardew has brought a great deal of stability to the club. There is also very little noise coming from players expressing a need to leave and establish themselves at a bigger club. Sure one or two may leave, but there is a necessity to address the financial aspect of running a successful club. As disheartening as it may be if Demba Ba, for example, were to leave, there is surely enough faith in Pardew to replace the striker and his goals.
At this stage, Newcastle are missing very few pieces across the team to sustain an assault on the top four in the Premier League. But, unlike many other nations in Europe, England has more than one club capable of financially out-muscling Newcastle in any aspect, as well as another group of clubs who have the history of finishing above them on a consistent basis.
The perceived glass ceiling may exist for clubs like Newcastle, who are strict with their financial commitments to players and who do understand the need to sell in order to move forward. But again, wouldn’t that just be damning to the Premier League?
What Newcastle can be proud of, however, is that they have manoeuvred themselves into the elite group of teams who are must-see on a weekly basis. Their current setup may not amount to much in terms of a genuine title-challenge with much more powerful clubs standing in their way, but the club are contributing greatly to the overall product of the Premier League. Newcastle are undoubtedly one of the front-runners for quality and excitement in English football.