Alan Pardew, Newcastle United manager, has recently been quoted as saying that he is aiming for Champions League football this season. But can his current crop of stars get some European joy?
I am not saying that Newcastle can get Champions League, I think that may be a bit far-fetched, but why shouldn’t Pardew’s black and white crew go for broke and get a Europa League spot in this coming season?
Newcastle have been very active in this transfer window, much more so than in previous years, with no less than six new signings. This year, Pardew has spent well and used his scouts’ experience to get the right mix of young and old players.
Last year in the Premier League, Newcastle came up short and after a more than disappointing finish to the season, Pardew’s men finished in 10th place, far from the European football the fans craved. The year before that, in 2012-13, Newcastle did manage European football and progressed to the latter stages of the Europa League.
Let’s look at the current squad. There has only been one high-profile departure, that of Mathieu Debuchy to Arsenal for £12m last week. Other than that, the first team of last year has been kept very much intact. With Fabricio Coloccini committing to another year at least and Tim Krul set to go nowhere despite interest from some large clubs.
The additions that Pardew has made to the squad have been well researched and smartly put together. Daryl Janmaat was brought in before Debuchy left, the World Cup star costing much less than his predecessor was sold for. Siem de Jong and Remy Cabella have been on Newcastle’s radar for months; there was interest in the players since last Summer.
A few more players to assist the squad’s strength in depth have been brought in, most notably Jack Colback from Sunderland and Emmanuel Riviere from AS Monaco.
If Pardew can bring in another striker, then there should be no doubt about the ability of the team. They have scored five goals in their two recent preseason fixtures, conceding none. The most exciting part of the warm-ups for fans has been the development of youngsters, in particular Rolando Aarons has impressed.
I’m tipping Newcastle for a Europa League spot this year, then that could be the stepping stone to Champions League in a few seasons time. They should surprise a few this season, that’s for sure. Although, they must keep their players and continue to spend wisely in the future to achieve that craved long-term success.