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For the first time in almost 68 years, Newcastle United are one step away from a major title after qualifying for the League Cup final, a step none of its optimistic fans contemplated before the Saudi takeover of the club, according to observers.
Newcastle secured their place in the final of the tournament on Tuesday when they beat Southampton 2-1 to reach the League Cup final 3-1 on aggregate, to face Manchester United in the final at the famous Wembley Stadium. Stadium on February 26.
It is the first time Newcastle, known as a sleeping giant due to its long history, have reached the final since losing 2-0 to Manchester United in the FA Cup in 1999.
It is also the second time they have reached the League Cup final, having previously lost to Manchester City in 1976, as the team hope to win their first title since winning the FA Cup in 1955.
At the start of last season, Newcastle were battling relegation to League One, but as soon as it was announced that it had been sold to a Saudi Arabian-backed consortium led by a sovereign wealth fund, in October 2021, the team’s pace of results escalated and they now sit third behind leaders Arsenal and Manchester City, and maybe end up qualifying for the Champions League.
A few weeks after the takeover, the club signed manager Eddie Howe, who managed to lift the team and avoid relegation, before making a strong start to the current season and challenging for the title.
Sports journalist Youssef Fael says: “Newcastle went through a difficult period last season, but after the change of ownership of the club, the image of the team has improved a lot, especially after bringing in manager Eddie Howe.”
In the writing of the “Al-Hurra” portal, it is written that the coach managed to attract reputable players who can compete in a tough and strong league such as the English Premier League.
He believes that “most of the credit” for the improvement of Newcastle’s position goes to the manager and his contracts with players who are able to implement his ideas and tactical style.
He also points out that “significant financial support from the management contributed to all of this, which contributed to the team becoming a fierce competitor to the traditional front teams”.
In addition, journalist Youssef does not ignore the role of the “enthusiastic” Newcastle fans who stood by the team and helped it achieve positive results, “after a period in which recent years have witnessed a state of public despair”.
The Saudi public investment fund owns 80 shares in Newcastle, having bought it from previous owner Mike Ashley for £300m.
The new owners invested $256 million in making “smart” signings such as right-back Kieran Trippier, Brazilian midfielder Bruno Guimarães, Dutchman Sven Putman, goalkeeper Nick Pope and Swedish forward Alexander Isak.
BN Sport journalist Ali Riah believes that “the consecutive successes and notable rise of the Newcastle team this season, not only at the league level, but also in other local competitions in England, are mainly due to the qualitative and financial shift that has taken place through the sponsorship and development of the club.”
We must not forget that last season the team finished the league in 11th place, but today they are third behind Arsenal and Manchester City, said Riah in an interview with Al-Hurr.
And Riah continues: “This upward trend in the chart is primarily due to its acquisition by the Saudi Public Investment Fund,” an experience that could be “similar to what happened with Manchester City,” which is owned by Emirati sponsors and achieved a series of successes over the past years.
“This competition will motivate other clubs and improve the football climate, whether in England or other countries, to develop and become in a better position, at least compared to the local leagues,” Riah said.
And at a time when some voices call for opposition to parties connected to countries, especially oil ones, that want to acquire international football clubs, others see that the matter is “justified” and that it is in favor of the development of the game.
Riah believes that “soccer today has become closer to investment”, noting that “the thing is justified and gives room for development and competition, raising the level of football and creating another atmosphere for the competition of famous rich clubs”.
He added: “Soccer today has become a field of investment open to all, but under conditions, restrictions and laws set by local and continental federations that guarantee the rules of fair play.”
And he continues: “These strict rules will stimulate and open the door for more investment, but with the necessity of not jeopardizing the identity of the club.”
Journalist Youssef Fael agrees with this proposition and points out that “money alone cannot win you a championship… you need successful planning and management, a fan base, capable coaching staff and good players.”
In an article published in “Forbes” magazine this month, sports journalist James Nalton confirmed that “the comprehensive reform that has taken place at Newcastle and the spending of money is one of the most important reasons for the development of the team”, but added that “spending in itself does not guarantee success.”
Nalton indicated that the data confirms that there are several English teams that have spent many times more than Newcastle in the past three years, such as Everton, Aston Villa, West Ham, Chelsea, Manchester United and Leeds United, but have not achieved outstanding results. success in such a short period as achieved by Newcastle.
Nalton added, “The speed with which Newcastle have progressed to become a top four team, and reached the final of the League Cup, begs the question of how long it will take before they win the title.”
Nalton expects Newcastle to become regular contenders at the top of the league in the next few years, alongside other big English teams such as Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chile, Tottenham and Manchester City.
The mid-1990s saw the start of a brilliant era for Newcastle, led by England striker Allen Shearer, who won the league title in 1996 and 1997.
The collapse of the team in the 1995-1996 season is still remembered. when famous coach Kevin Keegan’s men squandered a 12-point lead and ended up losing the title battle to Manchester United.