Newcastle find solid footing for the first time in years

In a month’s time Alan Pardew will be within two years of his job at Newcastle United. Whilst his predecessor Chris Hughton’s fledgling career sees him attempt to maintain the successful period experienced under Paul Lambert, now at Aston Villa, the ex-Charlton boss finds himself attempting to re-establish Newcastle’s fleeting reputation as one of the stronger teams in the country. The day after, December 10, his side travel to Craven Cottage and play visitors to Martin Jol’s Fulham. Alan Pardew has already survived in the Newcastle hot seat longer than any of the last nine managers since the late Sir Bobby Robson.

Arguably Pardew deserves plaudits: the Magpies are in Europe again for the first time since 2006, formidable challengers to finish inside the top six once again and, under the sombre ownership of Mike Ashley, providing a successful and well-maintained foundation, a variance to when it was in serious danger of falling into administration.

It’s even harder to see where Tyneside’s largest club would be without Mike Ashley. Over the last five years strides have been made to expel the club’s financial trepidations. The release of Newcastle United’s accounts from the 2010/11 season, of which the club would return to the Premier League in one season, the first time that they had been relegated from the top-flight since 1989, provides good reading. A total £88.5 million profit was made during the season in the npower Championship, a 69% increase from the previous year. The largest difference could be seen from the television and media revenue receive, jumping from £16 million to £43.5 million, exampling how strong an influence life in the Premier League can be for a club, with the financial boosts that come with being in the country’s highest division. Increases were made everywhere, including season ticket revenue and gate receipts, up 7% and 9% respectively, and even as low as 3% on commercial revenue, as well as catering and sponsorship income received from local and continent businesses.

Expenses, however, did not see much differentiation at £75.2 million, but that is expected when re-organising a squad that had been troubled with having to adjust to life a division lower than the rest. Wage costs were increased but other expenses across the board decreased from £26.9 million to £21.6 million. This could be argued in the case of Hatem Ben Arfa’s transfer from Olympique de Marseille for £3 million.

Overall it is one of the strongest financial performances from the club whilst having transferred fiscal success into operating strongly in the transfer market. Much is said about Newcastle’s scouting network, administered by Graham Carr, one of English football’s most renowned recruiters. His team of Lil Fuccilo, Bobby Saxton, Ray Gooding, Pablo Longoria, Norman Wooster and Bobby Saxton, the longest-serving of the six having been at Newcastle United since 1999, have attained some of the league’s finest footballers.

One of the most notable findings begins with the midfield pairing of Yohan Cabaye and Cheick Tioté. Both were recommended by the club’s chief scout, Carr, as potential signings within their assailant return to the top-flight. Tioté signed from FC Twente Enschende in Holland for a sum of £3.5 million whilst Cabaye followed suit a year later from former Ligue 1 champions OSC Lille Métropole, to the tune of £4.4 million. Both have been instrumental since their arrivals and raised the eyebrows of a few.

Tioté, a tough-tackling Ivorian ball-winner who since coming to England, has even been occasionally earmarked at St. James’ Park, though they have never really materialised, and nor would they. Manchester United in particular with an £8 million bid, likely to be laughed off. Cabaye, despite being largely well-known within France, particularly at les Dogues, has shown himself to be a meticulous passer of the ball whilst raising his profile for the France national team in the process of helping push his club for a place in Europe. His appearances at UEFA Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine were his first at an international tournament with the national side, rewarding him with his first goal, at the time under the stewardship of Laurent Blanc.

Alongside Demba Ba’s free transfer from West Ham United, followed by the introduction of wingers Sylvain Marveaux and Hatem Ben Arfa, have revitalised the Magpies’ fortunes. Papiss Cissé’s £10.5 million transfer from Freiburg in the Bundesliga has further propelled them. Pardew has the backing of the board, a squad with certain depth and a strong range of talent in most areas, and a stream of fans likely to fill out St. James’ Park with ceaseless chants and song of their beloved black-and-white striped side.

And now the introduction of the UEFA Europa League into the equation, recently having drawn 2-2 with Club Bruges in Belgium after conceding twice, has made things far more fruitful in Tyneside than it once was. Whether Pardew can lead a charge deep into the knockout stages of the tournament and further than their previous elimination from Europe in the last sixteen is questionable; can Pardew win anything with Newcastle? It’s unlikely at this point in times, but it most certainly isn’t possible. Should he be able to withstand the likes of Internazionale, Olympique de Marseille, Anzhi Makhachkala, Napoli and even Tottenham Hotspur should they all qualify, then there is little to say otherwise.

The caustic criticism has died a slow death, Newcastle is once joyous again with song, Ashley’s purchase of the club, in hindsight, was what has genuinely gifted back the city it’s team, and what more, the chance to go abroad and see their team play in some of the magnificent venues on the continent.

Newcastle United have West Ham United to entertain this weekend and, should luck be on their side, can potentially flirt with a top four spot. Tottenham Hotspur have their dreaded fixture up north against the champions, Manchester City, Steve Clarke’s West Bromwich Albion heading the same way up to Roberto Martínez’s Wigan Athletic and Everton take on Sunderland. Should all three previous fail to gain three points, then Pardew’s men are likely to hover around the qualification spots. All is yet to come.

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