Alan Pardew admits that, without a billionaire backer, Newcastle United are never likely to be in a position to compete for top honours.
The Magpies are recognised as one of the biggest clubs in England, and there are few who can match the dedication and passion of their supporters. And as they are able to boast four league titles, six FA Cups and success in Europe since their 1892 formation, their honours list, believe it or not, is one of the most impressive in the country.
However, the last time they won a major trophy was back in 1969, when they defeated Hungarian side Ujpest Dozsa over two legs to win the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup. Prior to that, their last domestic success came when they beat Manchester City at Wembley in the 1955 FA Cup final, whilst they were last crowned champions way back in 1927.
There have been close misses in the recent era, notably when Kevin Keegan ran Manchester United close to the Premier League title in 1996, only to blow a handsome lead. And the Reds also got the better of them in the FA Cup final of 1999, a year after Arsenal had beaten Kenny Dalglish’s side in the final hurdle of the same competition.
With Roman Abramovich and Sheikh Mansour pumping millions into Chelsea and Manchester City respectively, and the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool, United and Tottenham Hotspur never shy in getting the chequebook out, Newcastle appear as far away as ever when it comes to challenging for the title. And unless they find a wealthy backer of their own, manager Pardew concedes this is a situation which is unlikely to change.
“Mike (Ashley) has funded the club, made sure we have no debt – other than to himself – and supported me,” he told Sky Sports’ Goals on Sunday. “But unless we get a billionaire from deepest Russia we are probably not going to be able to compete with the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea, which is what our fans want.”
Two years ago Pardew was close to clinching UEFA Champions League football for Newcastle, until they fell away at the death. Last term they battled against relegation, whilst this time round they have made a steady start with three wins and a draw from their opening seven matches. Their best chance of a trophy will obviously come in a cup competition, and they welcome Manuel Pellegrini’s City to St James Park for a fourth round League Cup tie towards the end of the month.