Well that’s about it for another weekend. Another weekend of us NUFC fans having to dust ourselves down in preparation for the next weekend.
Maybe, just maybe, next weekend will prove more fruitful in terms of football results?
We’ll see on that one, but on the basis of the performance against Liverpool I wouldn’t want our highly-paid footballers to feel put out by having to play football for 90 minutes. Heaven forbid. Perhaps I’m being harsh? Maybe it’s understandable that the lads are looking a little jaded? I mean we have had to soldier on with pretty much the same starting XI for the bulk of the season.
That’s part of the problem though – strength in depth. We all know it, it’s been said umpteen times by many posters and we have to hope that it is one of the things that will be addressed in the summer. Adding to the overall quality of the squad is a must, but to add quality first you must maintain what you already have at your disposal.
Keeping hold of the core that we have is vitally important for us. Players like Joey Barton, Kevin Nolan and, even though I think it’s futile trying to attempt to, Jose Enrique is equally as important as strengthening the squad is. This is where the problem starts.
It’s very very easy for me to sit here and type that. It’s common sense that you need to keep hold of your better players. Unfortunately it’s not always quite as easy as that and there are other factors that come in to play yet we, collectively as fans, seem to assume that it’s some sort of failing on the part of the club if a player chooses to move on to a better club.
Unfortunately, and this may come across as a big negative, it’s time for a bit of realism.
The fact is that we are, at the moment, a club that is looking to stabilise in the Premier League. We are unlikely, barring some miracle, to be in a position where we can push for Europe next season and top-ten is probably the realistic goal we should be aiming for.
There are an awful lot of clubs that are much much better than us. There is a new top-four made up of Manchester Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City, followed by Tottenham and Liverpool who pretty much have Europe sewn up year-on-year. The fact is that these sides have been improving whilst we have been declining in the last eight years or so.
It will take time, investment, patience and good luck to be able to get in a position to compete over the length of a season with any of those teams, so with that in mind, if you were a player that had your eyes on playing in Europe would you go for the long haul or the short haul option? I’m guessing the latter.
I’m using Enrique as the example here, even though he could still surprise us and sign on again at Newcastle. Put yourself in his shoes. If a team playing in Europe came calling, what would you do? Remember, there is very little loyalty in football, and we constantly get told that footballers have short careers. Why not instant success?
I guess the point I’m trying to make is that when certain clubs come calling there is generally only going to be one outcome. I call it the football food chain, and right now we aren’t near the top of it. It isn’t new and it’s always happened.
Until we can get ourselves to a level where we can compete with the big boys around Europe we will see our better players leaving. There may be odd exceptions to that rule, but it’s generally how it works – in fact it’s how Newcastle, for decades, have worked.
All this talk of aiming for Europe is premature in my opinion. We aren’t going to take the Premier League by storm like last time. We aren’t in 1994 anymore and the league is a very different proposition to what it once was. The fact that this season has been widely regarded as being one of the closest and exciting leagues to date yet the same teams occupy the top spots says a lot.
Players come, players go, but as long as they go to the top clubs I’m not overly concerned as it means they must have been doing something right for us in the first place. It’s just, unfortunately, one of those things.
It’s when we start selling our better players to teams that are worse than us I’ll start to worry!
A lifelong Newcastle fan and current webmaster of this very 'blog who has the sole aim of creating a place by Newcastle United fans, for Newcastle United fans.