‘They had not planned to be dining at Europe’s top table so early.’
Newcastle entertain Tottenham on Sunday in a top-four shootout, live on Sky Sportsknowing victory could give them one foot in next season’s Champions League.
The north London club are managerless and dealing with the fall-out from managing director of football Fabio Paratici’s resignation.
Spurs’ last visit to Tyneside, a 3-2 victory on October 17, 2021, was the first game after Amanda Staveley’s Saudi-backed consortium had assumed control at St James’ Park, and much has changed during the intervening 18 months.
Champions League qualification would mean their development increases even more rapidly than the club had hoped – particularly in the transfer market.
Sky Sports News reporter Keith Downie looks ahead the super sunday game and what it could mean for Newcastle come the summer…
Newcastle and Spurs are fighting for a Champions League place at St James’ Park on Sunday. How big is this match for Newcastle?
Newcastle have played some huge matches already this season. The Carabao Cup final was arguably their biggest match this century, but sadly for the 100,000 Toon fans who converged on London eight weeks ago the team’s performance on the day failed to match their unwavering support and backing.
That is still raw for everyone involved at the club, but the team on the pitch have moved on to address it and recover. They have done so with gusto.
Five wins in a row proceeded last weekend’s surprise 3-0 defeat at Aston Villa. Up until last Saturday Newcastle had picked up 15 points from 18 since their Wembley defeat. But aside from their trip to Wembley, this has the feel of their biggest match if not just this season, but for many a year.
It looks very much like a shootout between Newcastle and Spurs for a place at Europe’s top table next season, with the Magpies knowing a win for them will make it very difficult for the north London club to recover. For a team struggling under an interim manager, a six-point deficit having played a game more will be too difficult to recover from.
The Manchester United win at St James’ Park three weeks ago had a similar feel to it. So to did the semi-final second-leg victory over Southampton that saw them clinch a place at the national stadium for the first time since Alan Shearer led the line.
Sunday 23rd April 1:00pm
Kick off 2:00pm
There were others: the 1-0 home win over Chelsea just that took them into the World Cup break on a high, and even the 3-3 exhilarating draw with Man City back at the start of the season when expectations were not as high.
But I think this one surpasses all of those, purely for the fact that I do not see anyone catching Newcastle if they nab the three points. There’s a train of thought that even a draw would be favorable to Newcastle, but when I asked manager Eddie Howe that question at his news conference on Friday he was quick to put me in my place – they’re playing to win, and at St James’ Park they don’t know any other way.
The stadium has been rocking for much of this season, but something tells me Sunday’s visit of Harry Kane and co. might just take it up a notch further with what’s on the line.
What will qualifying for the Champions League mean for Newcastle’s summer transfer budget? And what are the implications for missing out?
It will without doubt give it a boost, but we don’t know to what level yet. Much of it depends on how many points a club picks up, whether they make it through the group stage or not, and what domestic league the competing team plays in.
Nevertheless it is a hugely superior sum to what Newcastle would receive for qualifying for the Europa League. Add to that the ability to attract greater sponsorship and the Saudi-backed club could be sitting on a pretty penny that will be added to their budget.
They had not planned to be dining at Europe’s top table so early, and therefore had not budgeted for it, so a top-four finish could see Newcastle move the club forward quicker than many, and even those within the club, had anticipated.
I don’t think this means Newcastle will go out and buy some of the best players in the world straightaway, but it gives them the power to go back into the market for more players of the ilk of Sven Botman, Alexander Isak or Bruno Guimaraes .
Eddie Howe has gone on record to say the club are sailing close to the wind already when it comes to Financial Fair Paly (FFP), with sources within the club backing this up. It’s only once they announce new sponsorship deals, which in turn brings in new revenue to the coffers, that they will be able to go big in the market (again).
But finishing in the top four will give them an unexpected financial shot in the arm. Howe is well aware that to compete in the Champions League the summer transfer window could be his busiest yet.
What sort of transfer activity can we expect from Newcastle in the summer?
I think the team needs at least six new additions whether they qualify for the Champions League or not. Howe has asked the same players to keep revisiting the well, and he can’t do that when you’re fighting on European front too.
You almost need a squad that you can rotate between the two competitions. We see all the biggest and best clubs do that, and Newcastle would simply not be able to cope with the physical demands of asking 2014/15 players to play upwards of 50 high-level matches a season.
Champions League qualifications makes things even tougher as selling clubs know Newcastle need to buy, but it without doubt increases the demands on the players. Every area of the squad needs new signings, so Howe and Dan Ashworth are going to have their work cut out. But it’s not a bad position to be in – attempting to sign players for an assault on Europe.
The good thing for the supporters is they can be safe in the knowledge that everyone at the club is on the same page. It’s not like 11 years ago when they went into Europe with only one new addition. From the top down there is understanding that the squad will need to be bulked up.
As I said previously, you won’t see Jude Bellingham, Harry Kane and Victor Osimhen arrive at St James’ Park, but work is being done behind the scenes to add players who will compliment what they already have.
Should Newcastle fans be worried after last weekend’s defeat at Aston Villa?
It was a very surprising performance given what we had seen from Newcastle in the previous six weeks, but everyone is allowed an off-day. While Howe will be leaving no stone unturned to ensure there’s no repeat this weekend, the positive for Newcastle is Spurs failed to take advantage of their slip-up.
Their home defeat to Bournemouth canceled out Newcastle’s defeat and left both teams where they were to begin with. But this one is a real six-pointer, and Newcastle know they could put a huge dent in the London side’s hopes with another gutsy win at St James’ Park.
Only Sunday will be able to answer this question, but Newcastle have shown already this season that they can bounce back from adversity quickly. A win on Sunday and the Villa defeat will be long forgotten.
What is your prediction for Sunday?
I predicted the 2-0 win over Manchester United three weeks ago correctly, and I think it’ll be the same scoreline again. Newcastle will then have one foot in the Champions League.
Watch Newcastle vs Tottenham live on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Premier League from 1pm on super sunday; kick off 2pm.
You can also follow events from St James’ Park on the Sky Sports website and app with our live blog, featuring in-game clips and free match highlights after the final whistle.
Newcastle’s remaining fixtures
April 23: Tottenham (H) – Premier League, kick-off 2pm, live on Sky Sports
April 27: Everton (A) – Premier League, kick-off 7.45pm
April 30: Southampton (H) – Premier League, 2pm kick-off
May 7: Arsenal (H) – Premier League, kick-off 4.30pm, live on Sky Sports
May 13: Leeds (A) – Premier League, 3pm kick-off
May 20: Leicester (H) – Premier League, 3pm kick-off
May 28: chelsea (A) – Premier League, kick-off 4.30pm