Burnley have proved that Europa League Qualification is not impossible for Newcastle United.
A fantastic rout of Chelsea capped off a tremendous first season back in the Premier League for Newcastle United.
Pegged by many for relegation after spending less than their promoted rivals last summer, Rafa Benitez showed why he’s the best manager outside the top six by dragging a near Championship squad to 10th, and bringing back hope to Newcastle.
On the other side of the picture, Dyche at Burnley showed why he’s rated so highly with a fantastic run in the League, eventually qualifying for the Europa League.
It showed how small the distance between being mid-table and finishing in a Europa League spot truly is. Burnley are not some outstanding team, they are just 10 points ahead of Newcastle. Nor have they spent huge amounts getting there. However, they have shown that the 7th place finish is not beyond a good manager.
It brings us back to Newcastle United.
We do not demand Champions League qualification or titles. We want a club that tries its best. We managed to finish 5th under Pardew but the manager then turned around and acted like the Europa League was impossible to navigate. Rafa Benitez, someone who has won the Europa League, will give it the respect it deserves, should we get there some day.
His stay at the club is dependent on Ashley’s decisions. A takeover does not look like happening, but even without one, Rafa Benitez is not demanding insane sums. He will demand money the club generated, nothing more, nothing less.
What many have always ignored is that it makes perfect financial sense to invest in a club, provided you have faith in your manager. The difference between 10th and 15th was almost £10m. That’s a pretty high sum. The difference between Burnley’s income and Newcastle’s (in terms of money due to league position) will be just under £6m. Arsenal managed to net £40m from this season’s Europa League Run. A good Europa Run, obviously nowhere near Arsenal’s, could still net a team nearly £20m.
When you put that into context, investing some money could net you £40m more in prize money, and that’s ignoring all the benefits you’d get from increased exposure in the Europe League.
In the end, keeping Rafa Benitez and investing some money is likely to be profitable for Ashley in the long run, especially as a stable Europa League club will definitely sell for a lot more than what Staveley is currently rumoured to be offering.
Well done Burnley, and well done Dyche, but this is a tale from which all clubs should be learning from.
Even if breaking into the top six looks impossible, you should still try to finish as high as possible. Just avoiding relegation is no ambition, and it leads to an eventual relegation like Villa, Stoke, West Brom, or in the worst case, as bad as Sunderland.
We may laugh now, but if Ashley doesn’t go, and Rafa does, a relegation back to the Championship might end up just as bad as theirs. It’s this choice that Ashley will face this summer. Sell up, invest, or watch Rafa leave and Newcastle’s value plummet faster than Chelsea’s Champions League hopes.