It would be fair to say that Newcastle United have had a fairly tough time of it in recent years, whether that’s down to issues with ownership, poor managerial choices or questionable signings; all in all, the fact that a club the size of the St James’ Park outfit haven’t secured anything higher than a tenth place finish in the top tier in a decade is frankly criminal.
So, therefore, no one can begrudge the fact that the Toon Army now have some serious financial backing (and we have no intention of digging into the specifics of that, as, let’s be honest, that’s a conversation that is taking place pretty much everywhere) and a solid manager who seems very much part of a long-term strategy, or at least he should be if Newcastle United are looking for sustainable growth in the coming years.
So what can Newcastle United achieve in the short to medium term? Well, if you take a brief look at the Premier League odds, you’ll see that the bookmakers are almost all predicting a sharp upturn in fortunes for Eddie Howe’s side, and while that’s not unthinkable, it may be a slight case of wishful thinking, at least as far as 2022/23 is concerned.
Former Bournemouth boss Howe took over from Steve Bruce last November, after Graeme Jones’s short stint as interim manager, and after a tricky start, he oversaw a huge improvement on the field of play. His Newcastle United side’s second half of the season record would have been enough to secure a finish up near the top of the table; such was the turnaround.
A run of 12 wins and three draws over the course of Newcastle United’s final 20 games saw the North-East side not only steer clear of the relegation zone where they had been firmly entrenched but pushed them up to 11th place come the end of the season.
Realistic and Effective Use of the Transfer Market
Backed by Saudi owners, Howe made great use of the January transfer market to bring in proven talents that were ideal for the short-term job of keeping Newcastle United in the Premier League as well as capable of being part of a set-up with much higher ambitions.
Kieran Trippier, Chris Wood, Dan Burn, Bruno Guimaraes and Matt Targett all played their part in the club’s revival, while the likes of Joelinton, Allan Saint-Maximin, Jamaal Lascelles, Callum Wilson and others bought into Howe’s plan of action and similarly put in consistent displays befitting a team that is well aware of their underperforming status.
Some bookmakers are of the opinion that further recruitment over the summer could be enough to push Newcastle United as far up as the Champions League qualification spots, but that’s perhaps a bridge too far, not just for 2022/23 but arguably a season or more afterwards, after all, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Newcastle United may look for parallels to another ‘sleeping giant’ that felt the benefit of real investment, Manchester City, as a potential indicator of just what could be achieved.
When the Abu Dhabi United Group purchased Man City back in August 2008, a year after Thaksin Shinawatra had done so, Manchester City’s highest Premier League finish had been eighth. Then, lo and behold, less than four years later, the club was celebrating their first-ever Premier League title and their first top-tier crown since 1968.
The comparisons between Newcastle United and Manchester City, prior to the massive injection of funds in 2008, are pretty fair. Both teams had decent cup records and a large support base but were certainly not teams that any sane person would back for major titles.
To Dream the Possible Dream
Therefore the idea that Newcastle United could replicate Manchester City’s success is by no means an impossible dream, but it is one that could benefit from something of a more organic approach rather than just a mindless act of throwing money at the project.
There’s no point, for instance, in Howe overstretching the budget to sign players just for the sake of it. Players who may not fit the club’s ethos and could be brought in too soon, and therefore one hopes that Newcastle United continues to be sensible in their squad-building plans.
2022/23 will be a season of transition, but a finish in or around the top seven wouldn’t be unthinkable and would certainly be welcomed by the Toon Army faithful.