Craig Bellamy was a class act as a Newcastle United player, on the pitch anyway…
Now making a few quid as a pundit, he is never going to be quite as enthusiastic when talking about Newcastle as he is say Cardiff (who he supports) or Liverpool, especially with the way it all ended at St James Park.
The former Newcastle striker has stirred things up a little it with his latest comments but when you look at them, most of what he says – it is very hard to disagree with.
Talking of Rafa having built a team/squad to get out of the Championship – TICK.
Big difference in quality to what will be needed in Premier League – TICK.
Two relegations in seven years is some thing that shouldn’t be happening to a club ‘the size of Newcastle – (a very big) TICK.
When Sir Bobby Robson signed Craig Bellamy and Laurent Robert, they went into a team that despite having finished 11th the previous season, already had some real quality players such as Given, Solano, Shearer, Lee and Speed – TICK.
Newcastle United haven’t now got any players (remotely) close to that level – (another very big) TICK.
Where Craig Bellamy loses it a ‘little’ bit is when talking about Mike Ashley and fan expectations.
Bellamy says he thinks Mike Ashley is a ‘good owner’ – this hardly adds up when the former Newcastle star also thinks it is ridiculous for Newcastle United to have been relegated twice in seven years. There is a reason why it is us and not say Tottenham or Everton and that reason is the shocking running of the club by Mike Ashley. Lots of other factors involved but Ashley at the heart of it all – Wise, JFK, Pardew, McClaren, Llambias, Charnley (plus many others) all contributed BUT they were all appointed/employed by Mike Ashley.
As for fan expectations, Craig Bellamy claims that looking ahead to next season, Newcastle supporters ‘honestly believe’ they should be competing for a Champions League place.
Obviously this is untrue, some Newcastle fans might, but then there will also be some Newcastle fans who believe the earth is flat or they are visited by aliens on a regular basis. In other words, ‘some’ does not mean all, with in reality only a tiny percentage actually thinking top four is in any way a realistic target.
However, most Newcastle fans DO believe that the club should be capable of competing for a Champions League place in the future. There’s nothing wrong either in a small part of you thinking, if X, Y and X happens then who knows what could be achieved next season, including a place in the top four, however unlikely it is.
That is completely different to expecting it to happen. Why shouldn’t you dream and the example of Leicester is proof of why nothing is impossible – unlikely yes, impossible no.
The Premier League isn’t all that anyway, it doesn’t have a Barcelona, Bayern Munich or Real Madrid in it, the Champions League outcome of recent years shows that as reality.
There are a number of good teams in the English top tier but no game next season should Newcastle approach, believing there is no chance of getting something.
A combination of a realistic budget signed off by Mike Ashley and inspired signings by Rafa Benitez could send Newcastle into the top half of the table – anything beyond that would of course be a huge bonus.
Looking at the early prices for next season from the bookies, it is interesting that they price Newcastle up to be 10th or 11th, 500/1 to win the title, with Stoke City on the same odds. Palace, West Brom and West Ham all on 750/1 and others such as Brighton and Watford 1000/1. The bookies aren’t always right but they do look at what is most likely to happen in a very emotionless way.
Finding the next Kante, Vardy and Mahrez might just happen at bargain prices, whilst if Ashley is sensible, Rafa might also buy three or four other very good players with £15m-£25m price tags for each.
The potential will always be there at our football club and Tottenham are proving that they could be building something special at their club – it wasn’t that long ago that they were well behind Newcastle in terms of pulling power,
By ‘not long ago’ I am obviously not talking months or a year or two but any significant lasting success can only happen with work put in over a period of time – something which Rafa Benitez could…potentially achieve with Newcastle United.
Newcastle fans only want their club allowed to be the best it can possibly be.
Craig Bellamy talking to beIN Sports:
“Rafa Benitez signed a few who were experienced Championship players last summer and tried to get the balance right with what was needed to get promoted.
“There is a big gulf in quality (though) from the Premier League and the Championship so he will need players.
“It is (all about) where Newcastle are looking to finish and don’t forget this is their second relegation in the last seven years.
“There is no given right that you deserve to be in the Premier League but for a club the size of Newcastle, they should not really be in that position.
“If I was Newcastle now, I would be trying to spend as wisely as you can but let’s just make sure this club does not go back to the Championship.
“It was different when I went there as they were a team that had just finished mid-table (eleventh) but they had the likes of Nobby Solano, Alan Shearer and Gary Speed.
“They had a very good team and it was easy for me because I was able to fit in around really good players.
“There is a different challenge for players that are there now.
“The crowd will expect, they always do.
Do Newcastle fans expect too much?
“You have to embrace that, there’s nothing wrong with it
“Is it realistic? Of course it isn’t.
“They will go up not thinking about relegation or mid-table, they should be a Champions League club…they honestly believe that up there.
“Realistically they are a long way from that and they haven’t finished in the Champions League for 15 seasons.
“Mike Ashley’s a rich guy, a good owner and I like him a lot, I really do – but the type of money that is needed to get Newcastle to the Champions League would take a different owner.
“It is going to take hundreds of millions and I don’t think Mike would be wise to do that.”
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