Newcastle United only had four teams above them when the final whistle of last season was blown.

While it was a real squad effort at St.James’ Park, without the real quality players at Alan Pardew’s disposal it would have been an impossibility.

As the second half of the season gathered pace we all knew what awaited us at the end of it, with each extra win and impressive performance, it only added to the anticipated stress of the coming summer transfer window.

It’s a bit like every Christmas when there is a ‘Must Have Toy’ that becomes the thing every parent has to get, or woe betide them on Christmas Morning when their little cherubs will make their life hell if what they asked Santa for hasn’t materialised.

Mike Ashley has a very fine collection of ‘must have toys’ that no other retailer has, what is more they are all securely (with one exception) tied up on long contracts and anybody who wants one of them will have to pay through the nose.

How ironic that it is the very opposite of the pile it high (and all over the place!) business model that has made his fortune.

Ashley’s stock of must have toys are headed up by Krul, Coloccini, Cabaye, Tiote, Cisse, Ba and Ben Arfa, all players who could play for one or all of the four teams (and their foreign equivalents) that finished above Newcastle.

Having lifted £35m out of the pockets of the Yankee Scousers, Mike must lie awake at night imagining just how many bags of gold a striker who can actually score goals must be worth.

Which of those top teams wouldn’t want a keeper whose main hobby has been collecting clean sheets, an unflappable centre-back, a midfield destroyer who on his day looks the best in his position, a creative midfield playmaker who also puts his foot in, two strikers who have scored goals for fun at either end of the season, last but not least – a dribbling magnificently talented left-footed right winger who could double or treble in value if he scores some of his Newcastle-style goals for his country.

Alex Ferguson has supposedly baulked at prices he is being quoted for various players including it is said £20m minimum for Tiote. With the Glazers’ loan repayments massively eating into any transfer budget, the reality check of what his money can buy these days must have been a sobering realisation.

With Manchester City and Chelsea paying more than lip service to Financial Fair Play rules, Liverpool and Spurs lacking Champions League money to throw around, plus Arsenal unlikely to suddenly change their business model overnight and start paying top dollar for players already in the Premier League….maybe there is every chance of Mike Ashley’s ‘Must Have Toys’ staying on the shelves.

With the possible exception of Ba; Ashley is renowned for going in hard on his business deals so being held to ransom (as Ashley will undoubtedly see it) by Ba and his agents…well I can’t see him giving in, can you?

Maybe the biggest threat to Newcastle will be if say Spurs cash in on a Bale or Modric which sets in motion a chain of transfers which would see United losing one of our biggest assets.

Just as likely I fancy we will see clubs holding on to their own unique stock of must have toys and we will be at least saved the sigh of an Alex Ferguson walking away with our best players on the cheap.

Anybody who lived through the Waddle/Beardley/Gazza era would never want to relive that experience.

Why not start a 10 issue Mag subscription with the superb new summer special – every month a new issue direct to your door. Subscribe online here

Buy a single copy of the summer special online here in The Mag Shop available for worldwide delivery.

A bumper 60 page issue of classic Newcastle United coverage with a European flavouring!