The talk around Newcastle United is of a potential takeover of the club, something that would mean Mike Ashley finally leaving a club at which he’s been a pariah for years.
That might be a thoroughly welcome development for Newcastle in the obvious sense: anyone prepared to put money into the North East club could well see a significant return because of the size of the club and the state of modern football. With the right investment, a club with such a huge support in a one-club town could well see itself breaking into the top six in the years to come.
But talk of a takeover could well be incredibly good news in the short term, too.
Newcastle currently sit in seventh place in what is, admittedly, a very young Premier League table. But it’s not so young as to be completely meaningless. After nine games, form has well and truly settled, and that’s why we’re seeing managers get the sack: we’re almost a quarter of the way through the season already. No one is talking up the Magpies’ chances of a top four finish or anything like that, but maybe chatter about the boardroom keeps the focus on where the club can go in the future, perhaps taking the pressure off the present.
And that could be a huge blessing for the club. Because at the moment they are only one win behind Chelsea, and currently occupying seventh place just below Watford and just above Burnley. You get the feeling that all three of those clubs can’t sustain top half finishes, but there’s usually one surprise every year, and Newcastle could be the biggest one. But it helps to have a distraction to keep people from putting pressure on the team.
Over the next few weeks, if Rafael Benitez’s side play with the organisation and the grit that they’ve shown in the opening weeks, they’ll stay put in the table quite well. So far, they’ve performed well above expectations for a club who started the season with Dwight Gayle leading the line before replacing him with Joselu – who would well turn out to be one of the canniest signings of the season, but at the time looked severely underwhelming.
And if they do keep up the pace in the top half, and if the takeover does progress to a greater and greater degree, that could see the news coming out of the club dominated by off the pitch matters at the best possible time, shielding the players from pressure as the team climbs up the table under the radar.
So far, the successes of Watford and Burnley has earned both of those clubs plenty of plaudits, but Newcastle have been reasonably unsung, mostly because of the novelty of seeing the other two in the top half.
That’s suited the Magpies down to the ground to date. But having something else to take the pressure off the players even more could be a secondary benefit to any potential takeover, and could provide another big boost. And after the difficulties of the last few seasons, and enduring something as traumatic as relegation and a year in the second tier, Newcastle might finally be on the verge of some good luck for once.