Can Newcastle United Pass The Shane Long Test?
Back in February, Alan Pardew admitted his admiration for Shane Long and Tom Huddlestone, two Hull City purchases inside the last twelve months – a time period when Newcastle bought nobody.
Pardew further praised the Hull City owner for backing his manager mid-season with the purchases of both Long and Jelavic, this a period when Mike Ashley sold Pardew’s best player (Cabaye) and didn’t bring anybody in, leaving the Newcastle manager with no creativity and then no goals once on-loan Loic Remy was injured.
Alan Pardew said this at the time (February 2014);
“Huddlestone was a player that I really liked and somebody I’d have liked to have brought here – he’s proved at Hull what a good player he is.
“He did not come close to joining Newcastle, it was more a case of discussions about a player who would fit well with the way I play.”
“You’ve got to take your hat off to the Hull Chairman, the way he’s backed Steve with the two strikers (Jelavic and Long) as well. Neither are twenty four year olds, they’re senior strikers – we looked at Long and I liked him.”
So Pardew makes clear that he would have taken both Huddlestone and Long if Mike Ashley had backed his wishes with investment, rather than weakening the squad even further.
So now the question for me this summer is; Will Newcastle United pass the Shane Long test?
In other words, will the club sign players better than those such as Long and Huddlestone? For my money two players who are Premier League players and who would/could be first choice for any club outside those with Champions League aspirations.
With Huddlestone going for £5m and Long for £7m, you would have hoped even under Ashley they would have been achievable, while with both players aged 27 they have plenty of years left on the clock.
Those of you who are still optimistic this summer, will hope/believe that Newcastle will buy players who are better than Long and Huddlestone. However, if Ashley wasn’t prepared to pay those fees and wages then you can only assume we can’t expect better players than those two who are already playing in the Premier League.
So yet again you would have to hope Graeme Carr will find players abroad who will give us a lot more bang for our buck. In reality though, apart from Cabaye and Ba (both now departed) there hasn’t really been any other great lasting success stories that have been bought in Pardew’s time at Newcastle, in terms of goalscoring and/or creativity.
Both Cisse and Ben Arfa have promised in spells but have either not shown they can stand the Premier League strain long-term, or have been ruined by Pardew, depending on where you stand. Otherwise, the likes of Tiote, Anita, Sissoko, Gouffran, Obertan, Amalfitano etc either offer something else to goals/creativity, or in some cases nothing at all.
Taking where we are at the minute, Shane Long is surely a much better bet than anything we have seen recently (apart from the now departed Remy), with Shola, De Jong, Gouffran and Cisse all looking second best compared to the Hull striker.
While in the case of Tom Huddlestone, you would have to be a bit strange if you thought the very limited Vurnon Anita offered more than the skilful Hull midfielder, despite his lack of mobility.
While all of our aspirations should be higher than Hull City’s, I struggle at the minute to have any confidence whatsoever that we will finish above them next season.
This is where i get worried when many of our fans seem to think that the very worst that will happen under Mike Ashley is mid-table mediocrity – in my opinion it is the very BEST we can hope for.
Some supporters clearly think that if Ashley suddenly allows the funding of a few players that this will automatically equal a minimum of Premier League safety next season.
When every other club will be spending tens of millions this summer, exactly what advantage will Newcastle start with when we don’t currently have any creativity or goalscorers?
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