Do Newcastle United have their priorities in order?
The Newcastle United board made some very interesting comments at a fans’ forum last week.
As well as confirming that Alan Pardew will remain as manager next season, they also made it clear that they have no intention of even trying to win either of the domestic cups, or pushing harder to get into Europe via the League, as they think either could put their place in the Premier League at risk. In reality they may not be the only ones to share this view.
This reveals an interesting philosophical point, which is, would the teams in mid-table rather secure another season in the top flight, and the riches that come with it but have an utterly forgettable season, as Newcastle have just had, or try to create lasting memories by winning a cup?
In five years’ time, no one will remember that Newcastle finished 10th this season, but they will remember Wigan’s FA Cup win last year.
Sam Allardyce revealed his priorities last year when he rested players for an FA Cup replay away at Manchester United, who also rested players, and narrowly lost 1-0, with an eye to a home game with QPR which was drawn 1-1. This was despite the fact that a home tie with Fulham awaited whoever won the game.
For managers such as Allardyce, I ask- Why not give the cup game a real go? Who now remembers anything about West Ham’s season in 2012-2013? But as mentioned above, they do remember Wigan’s season in 2012-2013.
Sure, the television money for being in the top flight appears to have no limit, with bottom-placed Cardiff receiving more this season than Manchester United did for winning the title in 2013 - so I can understand why owners are keen to secure a slice of this pie. Birmingham City have had financial problems since their League Cup win in 2011, and only avoided a second relegation this season on goal difference- so would they swap the trophy for financial stability in the top flight?
I think so. And looking at the fate of the likes of Leeds and Portsmouth, it is right that the owners of clubs such as Newcastle do not want to engage in any Icarus-like behaviour.
However the key point is that football is about more than just balance sheets and income streams. It is about creating memories for fans that will last a lifetime.
It surely must be possible to be more ambitious than them without going down the Portsmouth dodgy money route?
This point is also relevant to my own team, Arsenal, where over the last decade, securing yet another season of Champions League football has at times seemed to be a higher priority for the club than actually winning trophies, creating a series of seasons which even to the keenest supporters all seem to blend into one.
So my point is this, come on, mid-table plodders, show some more ambition and try to provide some enduring memories for your supporters! If Wigan can, what is stopping you?