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Can Newcastle United become the best football team in the world?

By Euronews
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Newcastle United
Newcastle United   -   Copyright  Scott Heppell/Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

FOOTBALL NOW is a new show that brings to light some of the global game's biggest issues, challenges, and debates.

Ownership changes at a football club doesn't always bring immediate results. When Sheikh Mansour's Abu Dhabi consortium bought English club Manchester City, City fans had to wait over four years before winning their first Premier League title. Across the channel in France, success came somewhat faster after Qatar Sports Investments purchased Paris St Germain. Les Parisiens won Ligue Un just one season later. The same could be said for AC Milan when Silvio Berlusconi's new ownership in 1986 saw them lift the Serie A trophy one year after taking control of the club.

For Newcastle United, immediate success would mean staying in the Premier League. When the Saudi Arabian consortium took over the team, they were 19th in the Premier League table and had gone seven games without a win. Fast forward five months, and the Toon Army are 9 points above the relegation zone and look all set for safety.

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Eddie How has galvanised Newcastle United since taking over in NovemberAP Photo

The £305m purchase by the Public Investment Fund (PIF) was seen as controversial for many reasons, but the Premier League has recognised the group as a separate entity. For the fans, the takeover is very much about matters on the pitch and just how far their newly-built team will be able to go.

"They can go right to the top. You know, there's no reason why Newcastle United can't be challenging for top honours, and goodness knows the fans deserve it." Andrew Musgrove of the Newcastle Chronicle explained to Football Now.

"It's been really interesting that in January the club didn't have a Director of Football. In any case, Newcastle was in the relegation zone and looking like they would go down. And yet in January, without real experience in the footballing world, they've gone out, and they've signed Kieran Trippier, Chris Wood and obviously Bruno Guimares. And all the suggestions are that they are looking to survive the drop. That's without a Director of Football. So imagine what they can do in the summer."

Rui Vieira/Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Newcastle are very much a united team this seasonRui Vieira/Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

The new signings have proved to be smart acquisitions. The experienced Kieran Trippier has galvanised the squad, and despite an injury ruling him out for at least six weeks, he is an ever-present in the Newcastle dressing room. Meanwhile, Toon striker Chris Wood has scored just once but has been widely praised by fans and manager Eddie Howe, who calls him exceptional. It's a signing that Andrew Musgrove compares with Manchester City's and their business in the early days of their takeover by Sheikh Mansour:

"A lot of people are talking about how Wayne Bridge went to Manchester City very early on, and it's those kinds of signings that lay the foundations for what comes later. Spending 40 to 50 million on left-backs and central midfielders we saw in January was very impressive. Especially with the likes of Bruno Guimares, who was wanted by many big teams. He's here on Tyneside, and that really sets the mark up for where Newcastle United can and will go if they do survive this season."

With match attendances averaging over 50,000 supporters, Newcastle United is one of England's biggest clubs. But 14 unsuccessful years under Mike Ashley have stunted the club's growth. Kendall Rowan has been a season-ticket holder for 16 years and says the new investment can lead to regeneration in the local area.

"The Northeast, in general, is a very deprived region, just in terms of the whole country, really socioeconomically. It's so good for someone to come and renew a city like Newcastle with so much history and amazing architecture. To see what the owners of the likes of Man City have done to Manchester in general. And, you know, the different infrastructure and the things they provided. The institutions that they've built is just so significant. And I honestly can't wait to see what can be generated within Newcastle."

Rui Vieira/AP
The area around Manchester City's Etihad Stadium has been rejuvenated since they were taken over in 2008Rui Vieira/AP

"So I know the owners have said between five to 10 years for the first league title. At first, seeing the state of the club and the state of disrepair at the club. From top to bottom, from academy level to board level, I thought that maybe it would be a bit longer than that." says Kendall Rowan.

"I thought it would be seven to 10 years at the very minimum. However, seeing the business that we've done in January, the way that we've just transformed as a club under the new owners, just in general as a takeover. Actually, five years might be a bit more realistic in terms of at least battling the top four. I think the recruitment has been excellent in the January window, and that was our first window under the new owner. So I think that it might be unrealistic to think of five years, but in my opinion, winning the Premier League, I think, is definitely closer to seven to 10 years."

Most Toon fans have not had an opportunity to see true success in their lifetimes because they haven't won a domestic trophy since 1955. Whether the next piece of silverware comes in three, five or even ten years won't come as too much of a concern just yet. The new Newcastle United is all about hope and ambition, and anything else is just a bonus.