Toon Europe: Is it possible and are we ready?

Posted on February 19th, 2012 | 22 Comments |

Are Newcatcle United ready for Europe?
A possibility?
Newcastle United’s current 6th place Premier League position with 2/3rds of the season gone raises the possibility – albeit an outside one – of European qualification, but how will we cope if that happens?

I think it’s fair to say that Newcastle United have exceeded most people’s expectations so far this season. There are still 13 games left this season, which is plenty time for things to collapse in a heap of course, but – as I write – we’re currently 6th, 3 points clear of Liverpool in 7th and just 1 point behind Arsenal and Chelsea in 4th and 5th respectively.

You can credit our lofty position to Pardew, the team or even Ashley, or you can call it blind luck and quantum silliness if you like. But we are where we are and with cracks in Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool this season you might have at least one eye on the possibility that we might qualify for Europe.

We’re not completely safe from below. Liverpool – cracks notwithstanding – are still a threat and both Everton and the Mackems have been charging up the table recently while Norwich have gone quietly about the business of finding themselves the 8th spot at the moment.

So we certainly we can’t count our chickens before we’re sure they’ll fit through the eye of a needle, but it would be a very pessimistic supporter indeed who hasn’t once wondered if would might just edge into a European spot this season, even if it’s just that Europa League thingy, which could stretch as far as 6th or 7th depending on where teams like Chelsea and Liverpool finish and how they do in the domestic cup competitions.

The question that I’ve been cogitating, whilst eating my ocelot cutlets and hippopotamus eggs for breakfast, is: are we ready for Europe?

If I was to point to our biggest problem this season it might be that we lack depth. Sometimes the absence of just 1 or 2 players has a significant effect on the way we play and the points we accumulate as a result. But is that a genuine lack of depth or some sort of inflexibility that means we don’t adjust well to changes? Well it certainly seems like a genuine lack of depth in central defence and I think that’s recognised by the hierarchy of the club too. I would guess that we’d be recruiting for that area in the summer regardless of whether or not we qualify for Europe.

Would Ashley, do you think, back the buying of a few extra players if we did qualify for Europe? Personally I doubt it, at least as far as the next season is concerned (assuming we did indeed qualify for Europe). I think we will continue to buy and sell players according to Ashley’s financial plans for the club and I don’t think those plans account for Europe at this stage, which is after all only our 2nd season after returning to the Premier League.

At this point it’s probably worth me saying that I do believe Ashley wants us to succeed on the pitch. You can say that he only wants us to succeed for the sake of raising the profile of Sports Direct if you like, but the point is he wants us to do well. But he isn’t going to break the bank for our success. I think his plans basically amount to creating an effective scouting network that is adept at locating relative unknowns that can be bought cheaply (in terms of Premier League players anyway), some of which will be sold on at a profit to fund the purchase of other unknowns – and thus the cycle continues.

But, to get back to the point, I doubt those plans account for an unexpected foray into Europe. I think we will strengthen in the summer but only according to the longer-term financial plan and I wonder if our relative success this season (so far, anyway) has surprised even Ashley.

So I think if we do get into Europe we’ll simply have to try and cope but, with a bit of luck, we might find we can exceed expectations there too. Or possibly not!

So, readers, I have two questions for you:

1. Do you think we now have a realistic chance of European qualification, even if it’s just the Europa League?

2. Will Ashley specifically back a foray into Europe next season with additional players, should it come to it?

NUFCBlog Author: Hugh de Payen I'm a baby-boomer of the punk rock persuasion, currently exiled in Somerset for crimes committed in a previous life where locals keep trying to poison me with something called 'scrumpy'. Hates sprouts, coat-hangers, Cilla Black, ornaments, Steven Seagull movies and 50 Cent (he's not worth 10). Hugh de Payen has written 634 articles on this blog.

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22 Responses

  1. we are in for a shout for sure but on the short term looking forward/nervous to the Sunderland game :). they have come leaps and bounds with the O’Niel factor. Bound to be a great game though!

  2. I think we’ve got an outside chance of qualifying for the Europa league be it a slim one & I don’t think Ashley will spend anymore if we do than he would have if we didn’t….

    Tbh, I think it’s a season too early for Europe imo, we have a good squad, half of which other teams want but I also think if we do qualify, then those players other teams want will actually stay with us to play in Europe, saying that, considering most are from Europe anyways, they’ll be used to playing that style of football & may well give us a better chance than a team full of Brits if you know what I mean….

    Just a quick observation but weren’t the Muckems in this sort of position last season at this time only for it to go south very fast??? so I’m not counting any chickens & I hope we beat them in the Derby & put a massive dent in their run of games under MON.. :)

  3. Hugh, can you explain to a doddery old guy who has got confused about qualification rules who gets a europa spot if cup winers (FA & League) also qualify by league position.
    We qualified for europe cos we got beat in the FA Cup final by manu who already qualified as champions – the agreed rule was one FA Cup team had to qualify – has this been changed?
    In the League Cup only the winner qualifies.

    So if Spurs play Chelski in the FA Cup final — ?

  4. supermac your not the only one :) dont know why they changed the rules of the qualification think it was better before it was changed 5th and 6th automatic places, 7th and 8th qualifying matches to try and get in the cup. makes it harder for the lesser teams to get into Europe when all the big boys make the finals every year,well of course Birmingham did it but look where they are

  5. I think Europa League works like so…

    A) If Liverpool win the Carling Cup, but finish 5th in the League, then 6th place will be awarded the spot Liverpool claimed for winning the cup.
    B) If it’s a Spurs V Chelsea final in the FA cup then this too would mean another Europa spot going to League placings – supposing spurs finish top 4, and Chelsea finish 5th minimum.

    The long and short of it is Europa League qualification could stretch as low as 7th if the top 4 consists of city utd spurs and Chelsea. Liverpool in 5th. Sixth and Seventh place get the 2 cup final spots.

    …. All this aside I won’t matter anyway cos we’re finishing 4th!!!!

  6. We would need a bigger squad and more flexible tactics once we got to the final stages. If we didn’t have a bigger squad it could well damage our League performance too. The money clubs get for merely being in the Europa League would hardly justify that kind of expense.

    Now Chris Hughton at Birmingham has finally got the Europa league off his back, he’s absolutely flying in the Championship.

  7. What I find funny is that the pundits think that the fourth spot will only be contested between Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool. They must think we have no chance whatsoever.

    I’d like them to keep thinking this way as it doesn’t put pressure on us. For us nobody expected us to be at the ‘top table’ and so if we don’t end up there we will not be too dissapointed but will be really pleased that we finished in the top 10 which would be a sign of progress.

    Two of the three teams contesting the fourth spot are going to be mightly dissapointed come the end of the season, but we wont.

  8. Arsenal (supporters & club & manager) are talking about a “disater” going out of cups & a “bigger disaster” if not qualifying for the Champions League next season – puts our season into perspective doesn’t it?

  9. The battle for the 4-th place, that’s what count now, nothing else. French coach is in crise while best franco footers are in castle, porto coach is in doubte- the team in anarchy. Liver is down- Downing’s syndrome.
    It’s the right time now, isn’t it?
    Future matches are not hard, so go on, fly on

  10. I don’t think it would be wise to go into a season in a situation where you could end up in more competitions at once than the number of center halves in the senior squad. I don’t care to speculate what AshleyCo will or will not do in the window; before then there’s the matter of signing our captain and starting RB.

    On the other hand, why is qualification an outside possiblity? Sixth is very likely to be a European spot and it’s ours to lose. I’d say we have one chance in three or four right now.

  11. Talk of 4th seems premature. Against other sides in the top 7:

    -our record is W1, L4, D3 for 6 points
    -we’ve been outscored 9-18 overall and 2-11 in the losses

    Fact is you can’t get these spots just hoping the other guys drop points. You have to beat them. We don’t seem to be there yet, though I’d love to be proven wrong.

  12. follow on from the Arsenal “disaster” panic @10 – they are now reported on BBC as planning to scrap ther sensible wage structure and will offer contracts of £100,000+ to attract Champions League quality players !

    Are we sure we want to go back to that ? In a gamble for europe ! No thanks – lets build a decent team for a stable club and let the others court financial ruin !

  13. tunyc – I agree – we are in a competition for 6th, and presumably if we qualify then suitable investment will be made.
    6th is the team’s test
    investment will be Ashley’s test
    let’s hope they both pass !

  14. btw does anyone have an idea how much the Euro League would be worth to us? say, if we got to the second stage would we earn enough for 1 decent player, or more?

  15. Supermac says:

    “btw does anyone have an idea how much the Euro League would be worth to us? Prize money”

    Similarly to the UEFA Champions League, the prize money received by the clubs is divided into fixed payments based on participation and results, and variable amounts that depend of the value of their TV market.[14]

    A group stage participation in the Europa League nets €640,000, with a €60,000 bonus per group match played. A victory in the group pays €140,000 and a draw €70,000. Reaching the knock-out matches triggers additional bonuses: €200,000 for the round of 32, €300,000 for the round of 16, €400,000 for the quarterfinals and €700,000 for the semifinals. The losing finalists receive €2 million and the champions get €3 million.[15] In comparison, any team that reaches the UEFA Champions League group stage will be paid €3.9 million.[16]

    According to UEFA the fixed payments for the 2010/2011 UEFA Europa League season were as follows:[17]

    1st qualifying round: €90,000
    2nd qualifying round: €90,000
    3rd qualifying round: €90,000
    Playoffs: €90,000
    Group stage: €640,000
    For each match in group stage: €60,000
    Group match victory: €140,000
    Group match draw: €70,000
    Round of 32: €200,000
    Round of 16: €300,000
    Quarter-finals: €400,000
    Semi-finals: €700,000
    Losing Finalist: €2,000,000
    Winning the Final: €3,000,000

    Having counted the money already we need reminding of tunyc’s comments and the stats I gleaned last week about Pardwho and his inability to win the “big” games. Since he arrived only 2 wins from 15 against the top six and a cup record to be ashamed of.

    If only……………

  16. According to UEFA if you reach the final you could expect to make up €12m.

    “Fulham FC, the side Atlético defeated 2-1 after extra time to lift the trophy, earned €10,010,114 for their exploits. The English club had been involved from before the group stage, whereas Spanish representatives Atlético competed from the knockout rounds onwards having been in the UEFA Champions League.

    The prize money allocated to the 56 teams that featured in the UEFA Europa League’s debut campaign amounted to almost €135m. Of that figure, €80,960,000 consisted of commercial revenue, accrued from the exploitation of the competition’s broadcast and marketing rights; this was used for participation and performance-related payments.

    The remaining €54m came from the television market pool and was shared out according to a variety of factors including the proportional value of an individual club’s national TV market. The breakdown of Fulham’s earnings was €4.8 for their performances plus €5.2 from the market pool.

    With the teams being chief beneficiaries of the centralised marketing approach to the new tournament from the group stage, all 48 clubs in the group phase were entitled to a participation fee of €600,000, plus €300,000 in match bonuses – comprising €50,000 per group game played. In addition, performance bonuses were paid: €120,000 per win and €60,000 per draw in the group stage.

    Reaching the round of 32 earned an extra €180,000 per team, with further progress being rewarded by payments of: €270,000 for the round of 16, €360,000 for the quarter-finals and €630,000 for the semi-finals. Atlético then received €3m as winners of the 12 May final in northern Germany and Fulham €2m as runners-up”

  17. well i dont know about you, but im looking for 7 points in the nest three games.

    3 from wolves 1 from scum and 3 from arsenholes.

    we are only 1 point from 4th, let us not give up hope of stubbing the toes of the ambitious.

    i would love it just love it if we finished about liverpool and show these ambitious players what true grit and determination is all about, and show them the grass might be greener on the other side but only because other people have been mowing it, for a lot longer than you have been there.

    if we end up with 1 point out of the next 3 games then we can consider ourselves bubble burst, and lets look forward to pointing abuse at the fat man again.

    spray paint anyone?

  18. Thanks for that AndyMac. I doubt if many clubs would invest big time with that reward – but I assume we keep all home gate money. And the added “glamour” of europe should attract better players.
    I don’t suppose the simple entertainment of fans is too great a factor to the money men!

  19. With everyone available, we are somewhere around a sixth place side, problem is,our present season with the extra number of games (as many as three cup competitions) leaves us, around a half dozen players from a side who could both platoon and rest players, and i’m talking quality players here not the Williamsons, Perch’s etc.
    Bout time we had a clean-out get some of the deadwood off the books and bring in some help across the back four.

    That’s a novel approach, “the simple entertainment of fans”, eh!
    Yeah we seem to lose sight of the reality that football is a sport that’s meant to be enjoyed as a spectacle.
    Perhaps as “in the day” where we not privy to anything in regard to the business side of things, ignorance was bliss.

  20. I think we got a good chance for european football meself.Think MA will put some extra money in if we do make it.