Chris Hughton’s Newcastle United have been of a high since winning the Coca-Cola Championship emphatically and regaining their status in England’s top flight at the first attempt, but a level of gloom has arose in the press following the club’s cost-cutting return to the Premier League.
Surely claims that Newcastle need to go on a transfer splurge this summer are way wide of the mark? This squad is already good enough to survive in the top flight, right?
After taking the English second tier by storm this past season many have speculated how they will approach their return to the top division, with people like club legend and former number nine Alan Shearer, who said: “I hope the owner backs up Chris [Hughton] financially,” but the club have given the fans a honest dose of reality, which is what they feel they need.
A Newcastle source told SunSport last month: “The days of big spending at Newcastle are over.
“Mike [Ashley] has formulated a rigid business plan and will stick to it no matter what.”
He added: “He is looking at making sure Chris can compete with the bottom nine in the Premier League and will give him the funds to do so.
“Cost-cutting measures over the past year have ensured the club will go back up on a sound financial footing.
“Players will come in – but they won’t be paying over the odds for anyone. This is the new Newcastle.”
It is arguably a wise decision for the club to set their stall out immediately to avoid any overstated rumours and media hysteria raising expectations needlessly. Should Newcastle go and have a disappointing season and get relegated nobody could accuse the board of deceiving the fans, but I am sure it won’t come to that.
According to the club the needless spending are over and the club are keen not to waste any money for mediocre players like they have done in the past (£9.5m Albert Luque, anyone?).
Instead the club has taken steps to find young and cheap talent to help bolster their ranks, which is why former Northampton Town boss Graham Carr was brought in as a scout. Carr’s brief is to find young talent, preferably local and bring them through the ranks. Tamas Kadar, 20, and Haris Vuckic, 17, are just two promising youngsters who are in the squad.
The squad also boasts many players who are more than capable of holding their own in the Premier League such as Jose Enrique, Joey Barton and Andy Carrol. Also, their experienced campaigners Kevin Nolan and Alan Smith will provide much needed level-heads in the Toon dressing room.
A lot of the players (Enrique, Shola Ameobi and Fabricio Coloccini) will be returning to the Premier League in their best form following their dismal display in the 2008-09 season when they were relegated. They must now prove that they can punch weight in the Prem.
Merely aiming for survival may not be ambitious enough for some fans, but if Hughton can make good use of loans, free signings and pick up a bargain or two on the way they can aim higher, providing they start the season to good effect. Birmingham City managed to finish inside the top ten this last season without having to spend a whole lot to do so.
Hughton has done a great job at St James’ Park so far, but the Premier League is a big step up and a different prospect. He should be allowed to wheel and deal to an extent, but Newcastle United is a big club and is good enough to survive with the squad it currently possesses.
However, the Toon fans will be keeping a close eye on proceedings during the summer months and will hope the club can put an alleged £15 million transfer kitty to good use, but they may be pleased with the board’s statement for a “new Newcastle,” one that is determined not make the stupid and expensive mistakes of the past.
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