11th June 1969- Bob Moncur lifts the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup (Modern day Europa League) after a 6-2 aggregate win over Újpest Dózsa of Hungary. This is the last major honour that Newcastle United Football Club has won, and quite frankly for a club the size of Newcastle this is unacceptable. Since then; four finals, three semi-finals and countless quarter-finals have followed but to no avail.
For a club that has one of the finest stadiums in the Premier League, along with one of the best fanbases in the country, a trophy drought of 43 years now is a major issue and one that ought to be addressed. So, what would it take for Newcastle to win a trophy?
Well firstly, Newcastle have the support and they have the stadium, so these elements need not be discussed. In addition to these however, I propose six additional key factors that are pivotal to the success of any club with the intention of winning a trophy:
Every club that wins a league or a cup without fail has a high degree of talent within their side. A mix of the skilful, the powerful, the intelligent and the reliable are needed to win a trophy. Newcastle throughout the years have definitely had a good deal of talent within their sides but have just not had enough to get over that line between a decent or even threatening side, to an imposing and dominating one. You only have to look at the successful Man.United sides throughout the years and to a certain extent the most recent Man.City team, to see that talent in every position and in every area of a team and squad, gives you a great chance of winning a trophy. With this in mind, the signings that Pardew makes in this transfer window could prove key, as the current Newcastle side most definitely have talent, but not in every department or in great depth, the right-back and centre-half positions to name two.
Keeping hold of that talent
This element is very applicable to Newcastle in the sense that countless times over the years talented players have been plucked from Newcastle by more successful clubs. In addition, the seemingly ever revolving door of managers at St.James’ Park invariably means that once a new man comes in, he tends to install his own ideas and construct his own team, which over the years has led to a braking up of some very talented Newcastle sides. The two most obvious examples of this I can find would be Kenny Dalglish’s dismantling of Kevin Keegan’s ‘Entertainers’ of the mid-nineties, who came oh so close to the Premiership title, and Graeme Souness’ breaking up of Bobby Robson’s young side of the early noughties, a team which had bags of potential, challenging for honours both domestically and in Europe for three consecutive seasons. Therefore, Newcastle’s ability to keep the talent they have in the current squad, such as CheickTiote, Yohan Cabaye and Tim Krul, all of whom have been linked with moves away, will be a major factor in Newcastle’s chances of trophy success any time soon.
The presence of ‘Winners’
Every team which wins something has a number of players who are universally known in the football industry as ‘Winners’. These players, who have been there, done it and bought the t-shirt, act as leaders and guides to teams in their quest for glory. Roy Keane, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs are classic examples of ‘Winners’, who had and still have the experience to ensure that Man.United challenged and are still challenging for major honours week in week out, season in season out. Newcastle have certainly lacked a presence of ‘Winners’ in their sides throughout the years, with a strong theme of naivety more prevalent to the players who have worn the black and white whilst contesting for success since that last major honour in 1969. Of the current side though, Yohan Cabaye won the double in France, while Cheick Tiote won the double in Holland directly before joining. In addition, Hatem Ben Arfa won a host of trophies with both Lyon and Marseilles. Therefore, to a certain degree there are ‘Winners’ in the current Newcastle side, if not vastly experienced ones. The possible signings of Lille full-back Mathieu Debuchy and Montpellier centre-half Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, would add yet more winning experience to the current Newcastle side, which is a necessity for success.
A key, if not The key element to the success of a football club. A club must prove both consistent and resistant in order to obtain silverware. Every team has a match when it does not necessarily go to plan, in this situation it is the response of a team which marks it out as one capable of success and one that isn’t. Consistency in finding results, from a host of different situations, be it from 4-0 up or 0-2 down, define whether a team is to be successful or not. Therefore, in order for Newcastle to have a chance of winning a trophy in the more recent future, they must develop a consistency and ruthlessness to get a result no matter what. If Pardew can install a consistency to his Newcastle side, then they could prove a force to anybody next season.
This is a necessity in three key areas of a football club in order for it to be successful: at managerial level, boardroom level and of the players themselves. In reality however, over the years, Newcastle have had the opposite of stability in all three areas, and this has most definitely hindered their chances of success. You only have to look at Man.United where Sir Alex Ferguson has been manager for an incredible 26 years now, to see that stability is a more likely avenue for success then constant re-organisation. Embarrassingly, in that same period Newcastle have had a total of 17 managers, which by contrast to Man.United is ridiculous. Newcastle United at present appear to be relatively stable in these three areas; with Pardew on a lengthy contract, Mike Ashley stating he has no intention of selling the club anytime soon, then chief scout Graham Carr only last week stating that Newcastle do not intend to sell their best players. How stable these three areas continue to be remains another issue, though if the club can remain stable for a sustained period than the chances of trophy success can only increase.
Lastly, Luck. Every side needs a bit of luck to be successful, whether it’s not getting injuries to key players or the luck of the draw. In all fairness, Newcastle have not had a great deal of luck over the years, both in terms of injuries and in who they have been drawn against in cup competitions. In comparison to the other five factors this is less necessary, however a bit of luck for Newcastle in a cup competition would of course give them a boost.
Therefore, if Newcastle manage to take into account and address each of these six areas, then in my opinion they will have a great chance of trophy success much sooner rather than later….here’s hoping anyway!