Much has been made of our lack of transfer activity and constant negativity with players leaving and injuries in recent weeks has bee rife.
Admittedly it is a worrying that key players like Hatem Ben Arfa are going to miss the start of the season as he is a key player and will be missed as we set about trying to improve on last season.
What is improvement though? Where should we be aiming? We’ve heard certain noises particularly on this ‘blog that we should and deserve to be fighting for a top 6 finish within the next two seasons.
Opinion is often divided when it comes to our future and how ambitious we should be in the coming years. When we look at our status as a recently promoted side we do have to look at ourselves and realise that steady rise is needed rather than a sudden delve into the higher realms of the top flight. But then we ponder on how we have arguably the best support in the country regularly fill our stadium and simply the name Newcastle United represents a real cornerstone of English Football.
Arguably the Premier League is as strong as it has ever been. To break the higher levels of the league you need many things; money, desire, ability, money, money oh and MONEY. This is a critical point really. All the top six of the past season have spent millions upon millions to be there. When we look at our spending it simply bears no comparison.
To work out where I think Newcastle would fit into the league potentially we have to work out the teams who are most likely to threaten our chance of a top six place. I personally feel that the Premier League is broken down into small groups of teams at similar levels.
1) Manchester United are simply the best team at the moment closely followed by big spending Chelsea and Manchester City with the creative yet can’t win anything Arsenal.
2) Liverpool will no doubt push for a top five position with the amount they have invested and Tottenham have constantly spent large amounts of money and always test the top teams.
3) This next clutch of teams all have strong squads and are experienced in the Premier League; Everton who without David Moyes would be average, Aston Villa who did have a poor season but are always good team, Bolton who have been steady if somewhat boring, and Stoke who no one likes to play.
4) Sunderland are likely to head this bunch up with the amount of spending they have done, with Fulham who I think will impress this year and potentially West Brom under Roy Hodgson could be a canny outfit.
5) The regular relegation contenders headed up by Blackburn who have lost the plot with their owners, Wolves who are average but sometimes dangerous, Wigan who are looking to be heavily in the mire this year and the three promoted clubs, QPR, Norwich and Swansea.
So they are the five groups I personally feel the Premier League falls into. So what about Newcastle’s position? Which group would they fall in?
Well it’s clear we have the heritage fans and players to beat the likes of group five and possibly group four, so I would say at the current state of our squad we should at best be aiming for group three. Yes we may have better players than Aston Villa or even Stoke and Bolton, but these teams are never easy to beat, especially Everton.
When we see the strength of the top two groups it’s easy to see how our work to reach those heights in almost impossible. The longer the top teams stay at the top the more money they receive and the harder it is for us as a team to break into that bracket. Of the teams in group three I genuinely feel that us and Everton are the two that could challenge BUT not this season.
We are still in transition and we are no closer than we were last season. We have lost our talisman and number 9 with no replacement as yet and lost our captain and also top scorer. It is worrying times indeed.
The likes of Yohan Cabaye, Demba Ba and Sylvain Marveux are good additions, but they are not enough. To realistically gain a top ten finish next year we need to buy three more players – a striker, a utility player to cover defence and, although I would prefer yet another striker, a creative winger could be just as effective.
The stumbling block as ever with predicting our future in the league is that we are never sure of our Chairman’s spending or if he really has the clubs interests at heart. If we were to spend big this season and reinvest wisely again next summer who is to say that we cant compete with the likes of Liverpool and Tottenham?
The trouble is that ‘IF’ is booming at us loud and clear with so many variables hinging on it.
Note from Toonsy – Thanks to Liam Southern Toon for giving us this to ponder.