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Champions League Essential For NUFC To Keep Top Players?

10 years ago

As Newcastle head into their final five matches, both manager and fans have a nice problem to contemplate.

Other clubs are after our players!

I don’t relish the thought that we may lose any quality player but this is a far better situation than so often in the past when we couldn’t have even given some of our better players away.

The last time we were in the fortunate position of having a number of players who were good enough  to play for any team at the top, was unsurprisingly the last time we were near the top.!

Under Sir Bobby Robson we accumulated Shay Given, Jonathan Woodgate, Craig Bellamy and Alan Shearer – all players that were more than good enough to play for  Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea or whoever. Don’t get me wrong, Newcastle had other very good players such as Robert, Solano, Speed and so on but those four would have graced any team, and indeed improved them, at the time.

Funnily enough I can never remember any talk back then of the top players possibly leaving or ‘unsettled stars’ etc.

I wonder how much of that was down to the fact Newcastle were competing at the right end, or maybe more importantly, playing in what is now regarded as the pinnacle of club or international football – The Champions League.

Indeed it was only when Champions League football was lost that Jonathan Woodgate left for Real Madrid, the profile of the buying club confirming how highly our players were rated. That failure to qualify for the group stages was maybe the beginning of the end for Sir Bobby though of course we didn’t realise at the time.

So what about the present day?

I would say in Krul, Coloccini and  Tiote we have three players who are more than good enough to play for any Premier League team. On the short evidence of what we have seen this season, I would say that Demba Ba and Papiss Cissé are also on that list.

I also really like a number of other players in Cabaye, Steven Taylor, Santon and Ben Arfa who to greater or lesser extents are potentially capable of mixing up into that elite group with improvement or more consistency.

If Champions League football is achieved then why would anybody choose to leave?

With Arsenal’s win at Wolves last night it appears that it is between Spurs, Chelsea and ourselves for fourth spot.

That is quite apt because those two competing teams are the ones most heavily linked with our best players, even seeing the disgraced one trying to tap them up in public, ‘know what I mean ‘arry?’.

If Alan Pardew and Newcastle United did really pull it off and finished fourth, you would have to question why any player would leave, especially to say a Spurs or Chelsea outside the top four.

If the team do the business and qualify then they’ll have done their bit and will have also exposed any player who then did leave – because if affection for Newcastle AND Champions League football isn’t enough to grab them, then they weren’t the players for us in the first place.


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