Two seasons ago the Magpies were flying. Alan Pardew had offloaded problem players Joey Barton and Kevin Nolan, creating a harmonious dressing room atmosphere. Last January, with the side struggling against relegation, owner Mike Ashley opened his wallet up and signed several marquee French players, individuals of a high enough standard that had previously been pursued by the likes of Arsenal and Tottenham.
Fast forward to February, 2014. Newcastle United has just sold Yohan Cabaye, the club’s best player, and failed to buy a single first-team player in the last two transfer windows, instead opting for lower-risk loans of two higher profile players. Wednesday’s 4-0 loss at St James Park to Tottenham Hotspur was an embarrassment of epic proportions. For the third successive match since Cabaye was sold, the team hardly competed and were beaten by three or more goals. The month of February has seen Pardew’s men lose 3-0 to local rivals Sunderland at St James Park, smashed 3-0 at Chelsea and then lose to Spurs 4-0.
To make matters worse, it’s been more than six hours since Newcastle United have scored a goal at home. Plus, he five successive defeats at home is the worst run of form for the club since 1978.
The club is the biggest in England that hasn’t won anything in most of our lifetimes. While Mike Ashley’s financial acumen has stabilized the club, the lack of ambition demonstrated by the current ownership leaves the Magpies as an also-ran in English football. Finishing mid table each season may be the only reasonable Premier League expectation, but the continued failures in cup competitions against lower league sides and lack of emphasis on taking chances to win silverware is exasperating.
Supporters of the club are becoming more frustrated and despondent. Reaction on Twitter to the sale of Cabaye and the failure to even attempt to buy a replacement was the last straw for many Geordies who have grown up dreaming of glory but have instead seen the hopes of the Keegan and Robson years come crashing down.
Something has to give soon. Either Newcastle attracts a big money owner willing to invest resources in the club now that Ashley has steadied the financial picture or the team slips towards the Championship once again. Supporters surely will have a role in whatever happens next for the side. Pressure can be brought on Ashley to sell the club, but as many English clubs have demonstrated, financial prudence sometimes trumps new foreign ownership that promises to spend money but instead rips the soul out of a club.
In theory, Newcastle United should attract a big money takeover. The club remains arguably the largest in the Premier League to have not been taken over by a large scale foreign investor. However, the economic climate of the Northeast of England as well as the restrictions on big initial investment in the Financial Fair Play era may leave the club without any other option but to let Ashley navigate it forward.
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