When Newcastle United are in the cups, the club claim they are the best thing that can possibly be hoped to compete for.  There is much hype about the effort that will go into winning the cup and staff are supposedly highly incentivised to go for it.  There are tickets to sell, after all.

When Newcastle United are knocked out of the cups, while the club always claim the strongest team was put out, they themselves note usual starters that were omitted, they also argue (in opposition to the notion that they want the strongest team to start) that the cup is the worst distraction from the league, something that the club do not want to risk competing for in case it leads to relegation. 

There is not only over a decade of underlying evidence to show how early the club are routinely knocked out of competitions, how the team is weakened and injuries appear like clockwork ahead of cup games, but also official club statements admitting that they have gone as far as to “research” the fortunes of clubs outside of the top 6 that go on a cup run.  The conclusion being that it’s very bad to win a cup, because you are likely to be relegated.

Over 13 seasons under Ashley, Newcastle have been knocked out of cup competitions 13 tiumes in the third round and 9 times in the 4th round with 1 Europa league quarter final the furthest they’ve reached.

August 2019

Steve Bruce press conference before making 7 changes for the visit of Leicester in the League cup

I’ve put my neck on the line immediately (saying he won’t prioritise Premier League over the cups)! I’m not really bothered what’s been done before. I can understand the philosophy of it but my perception of it all changed at Hull.  We were 2-0 up in the (2014) FA Cup final against Arsenal.  We nearly won it.  My perception of it changed too. Hull supporters had the best day out in their lives.  That’s got to be a route and that’s what we’ll try and do.  I realised it at Hull.  We got to the FA Cup final and if you ask the supporters what their biggest day was, getting into the Premier League or getting to the FA Cup final and they’d say the final.  Surely as a club we can win five games?  Can we win a cup tie, can we do well in the League Cup or the FA Cup?  That’s got to be an aim. It’s not just about staying in the division and being happy with that – that would be wrong. – Source

July 2019
Mike Ashley interviewed in The Daily Mail

I’ve got a manager saying, “Let me get on with it. Just let me get on with it – I won’t let you down”. I’m thinking, “I’m definitely having that”. He gets it. He comes in: “The cups? Yeah, we go for them”.  Certain things I haven’t got right. I used to think our Premier League finish was more important. But where can we realistically go with this top six? The cups are the best of it. And it’s great to have a conversation with someone who is so passionate for Newcastle United. I know I’m an eternal optimist but with what we’ve got now at the football club, something might be possible.

This interview also repeated earlier newspaper reports that Ashley was offering a £20m bonus to win the FA cup.  Though there were no quotes from Ashley himself on this, it’s clear it’s something he’s briefing reporters on.

“He is still capable of unimagined enthusiasms and leaps of faith – writing in a £20million bonus for the players if Newcastle won the FA Cup several seasons ago.”


August 2017
Mike Ashley Interviewed by Sky Sports

Maybe this year we could look for mid-table this season, and maybe make the cups a priority this season. Get ourselves safe and then go for a cup. Either cup. And the dream would always be qualifying for the Champions League, that’s what it is for me, simple. – Source

March 2015
Fans Forum minutes

The board explained that in the Capital One Cup, team selections had been generally strong this season. It was felt that the team that won at Manchester City was potentially one of the weakest on paper but achieved arguably the performance/result of the season. With regard to the FA Cup, the board explained that a number of clubs had voiced concern at a Premier League shareholders meeting about the scheduling of the FA Cup and the number of games during the Christmas period. This was something that the Premier League acknowledged, but it was unavoidable. That said, it was felt that the team selected for the third round tie at Leicester – which was the strongest available with the exception of Ayoze Perez (rested) – was put out with the firm intention of winning the game, and had the quality to do so.

The board contested the idea that the club goes out to lose any match. It was suggested that Newcastle United’s openness in relation to the Premier League being its priority was unlike other Premier League clubs, who operate in much the same way without communicating that view to supporters.  The board outlined the strength of its teams in all four League Cup ties, with Newcastle United losing to the eventual runners-up.The board accepted its messaging could have been different in relation to the strength of the team that John Carver was able to field but reiterated that the starting line-up was the strongest it could be (Ayoze Perez aside).

The board assured Forum members that John Carver played his best possible team in the Leicester cup game and the board did not influence his team selection in any way. The board stated that its priorities had been disclosed in order to be open and transparent with supporters. – Source

May 2014
Fans Forum minutes

The board reiterated that the Premier League will remain the club’s priority.  The board outlined research into Premier League clubs in relation to domestic cup competitions in the last five years, with Swansea City the only club outside the traditional top six to win a domestic cup and not be relegated in the same season (Birmingham and Wigan Athletic were both relegated). Independent research into the cost of relegation over the past ten years showed there is a 50% chance of not gaining promotion back to the top flight and a 30% chance of being relegated to League One or further. In addition, if clubs do return to the Premier League, it takes four years on average. – Source

January 2014
Fans Forum minutes

The board explained that the strongest available players had started the cup defeat to Cardiff City (with the exception of substitute Loïc Remy) and that it was a case of a poor result rather than poor team selection. The board repeated that its aim this season remains a top ten finish, clarifying that everyone at the club naturally wants to finish as high as possible.  While several other clubs had recently suffered relegation after winning a domestic cup, Source

May 2010
Club statement

This great club has not won a major trophy since the 1969 victory in the European Fairs Cup. The first challenge is to maintain Premier League status. – Source

You must be logged in to post a comment Login