Atletico Madrid Show The Path For Newcastle United
We are constantly told by the owners and the manager at Newcastle that we can never hope to compete with the top four due to their spending powers, thus having to settle for mediocrity and to stop complaining.
Well maybe we need to look at the lesson of Atletico Madrid, the club who have just won the La Liga title and are about the compete with their wealthy Madrid neighbour in the Champions League next week.
Their annual budget (Deloitte Turnovers (in Euros) 2011/12 NUFC 115m Atletico 108m, 2012/13 NUFC 112m Atletico 120m) stands at about a quarter of that of Real Madrid and Barcelona and their stadium, that I have visited on two occasions, bears little comparison with St James Park and stands in one of the more deprived areas of the city from where they attract most of their support.
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There are some parallels with Newcastle in the sense that when the wealthier clubs come calling, then they are required to sell some of their star players, notably Torres and Falcao in recent years and probably Costa when the current season ends. They also have fanatical support (averaged 47,000 this season, a few thousand less than Newcastle) as I have witnessed and support the club no matter what the fortunes of the team. However, that is where the similarities end.
The differences are, that when they sell a star player they immediately replace him with quality. Hence the replacement of Torres with Falcao, then David Villa to replace the departing Falcao, and I have no doubt that when Costa moves on there will be a quality striker already in the pipeline.
They also have a manager who seeks to bond with the fans as shown by his match day antics and who is always talking up the ambitions of the club and reaching for the stars. Finally, they have a team that shows immense spirit and a similar bond with the fans and they too are not prepared to settle for mid-table mediocrity.
On most of the fan phone-ins we hear about the need to ‘spend lots of money’. However, might I suggest that no matter how many millions are spent we can never progress if we constantly believe the mantra that we cannot compete with the top four due to their spending powers.
Maybe Pardew needs to spend a few hours in the company of Simeone and instil in the players the belief that nothing is impossible and the bigger they are the harder they fall.
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