Newcastle United are surpassing Aston Villa when it comes to tackling the Championship

Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez

Why is one of the two Premier League giants relegated last season approaching the Championship with ambition, while the other drags it heels?

Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez before the matchNewcastle manager Rafael Benitez before a match against Aston Villa

Newcastle United's impressive approach to life in the Championship is at odds with the strategy Aston Villa seem to be employing in their own first season out of the top flight.

Both are surely eager to get back to the Premier League by the end of this season, but whereas Newcastle are buoyantly approaching the transfer market, in part because of their strong finish to last season, Villa are not breeding the same confidence, and pundits such as Ian Holloway are predicting tough times over the next year.

The Magpies and Villa are two of the best supported clubs in the country, regularly drawing in large attendances and with a rich history as a major Premier League side. They both have similar record transfer fees too - just under £20 million for England forwards Michael Owen and Darren Bent.

Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez during the press conferenceNewcastle United manager Rafael Benitez

However, while Newcastle have ambitiously sought to convince Premier League players to step down to the Championship to star for the Magpies, Villa have employed a much more conservative approach.

Villa have managed to bring Bournemouth defender Tommy Elphick down to the Championship, but he missed much of the Cherries' time in the top flight with achilles tendon problems.

Their other two signings are Pierluigi Gollini, who is a promising young goalkeeper but kept goal for the club that finished bottom of Serie A, and Reading defensive midfielder Aaron Tshibola.

By comparison, Newcastle have managed to talk one of Bournemouth's best players in the Premier League, Matt Ritchie, into returning to the Championship, as well as Crystal Palace striker Dwight Gayle. 

Bournemouth's Matt Ritchie in actionBournemouth's Matt Ritchie in action

Rafa Benitez has also brought in a player from Atletico Madrid, arguably the best goalkeeper in the Belgian league in Matz Sels, and is likely to add Mo Diame (Telegraph) to Isaac Hayden - two players who helped Hull City to promotion last year. For the latter two to snub the chance of Premier League football to head to St James's Park is evidence of the club's ambition.

And of course, Newcastle have also triggered Aston Villa defender Ciaran Clark's release clause (Mail).

Now Magpies fans may disagree, but Aston Villa are big enough to be doing the same thing as them - convincing Premier League players at smaller clubs to join a massive Championship club looking to earn promotion straight away. 

Aston Villa's Ciaran ClarkAston Villa's Ciaran Clark

That Clark is leaving Villa for a team who will be a direct rival next season must be frustrating to Villa fans.

But why aren't Villa taking the same approach with their player recruitment? It could be down to the presence of Benitez at Newcastle, or the Magpies willingness to pay out bigger fees or bigger wages to bring in quality players, or it could be the ownership at Villa being more apprehensive than on Tyneside.

Either way, with some time left in the transfer window, Villa would benefit from copying Newcastle's approach, and spending money on the very best players they can get in order to give them the best chances in the new season. 

(L - R) New chief executive Keith Wyness, new manager Roberto Di Matteo and new owner Dr Tony Xia during the press conference(L - R) New chief executive Keith Wyness, new manager Roberto Di Matteo and new owner Dr Tony Xia during the press conference

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