The contrast between Newcastle and Spurs

Posted by Marc Duffy

Stu Forster/Getty ImagesThe work of Mike Ashley and Joe Kinnear hasn't exactly instilled confidence in Newcastle supporters.

Every time Newcastle come up against Tottenham I can't help but shake off the feeling of 'what could have been' for Newcastle United Football Club.

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In the Premier League years the clubs have often been well matched -- Spurs have finished above Newcastle 11 times in the 20 seasons they've played but Newcastle have managed five top-four finishes to Tottenham's two.

Sadly, for Newcastle the two clubs are a long way apart these days.

Spurs are capably led by Daniel Levy -- a man with a fierce reputation for negotiation and they employ a clear strategy of selling high and then heavily reinvesting in the squad. This approach has left them as annual top four candidates and they play European football of one sort or another each and every year.

Meanwhile up in Newcastle, they have apparently been making things up as they go along.

In the six and a half years Mike Ashley has owned the club they have employed a number of Executives off the field -- Chris Mort, Dennis Wise, Tony Jimenez, Derek Llambias and Joe Kinnear.

Llambias, although unpopular, at least offered some business guidance and experience in his role as Managing Director. He fled soon after the ludicrous appointment of Joe Kinnear as Director of Football and the MD no longer exists.

Between Ashley and these execs, there has never been a clear strategy. He bought relatively expensive players in the early days of his ownership but then sold as many as he could and as quickly as he could when performances on the field began to suffer from his bizarre managerial appointments.

We all know that this off-field turmoil led to the remarkable relegation of the club in May 2009. Having quickly bounced back to the Premier League, Newcastle still lack an obvious plan.

It is widely believed that 'buy cheap, sell high' is the idea, but the recent Yohan Cabaye transfer saga suggests that some within the club over-estimate the value of their players. Other clubs are not likely to value some of these players as highly because on the field the club endured another awful year last year.

Under Ashley's 'guidance', Newcastle's Premier League finishes have been: 12th, 18th, 12th, fifth, 16th (plus a year in the Championship). Tottenham's record over that time reads: 11th, eighth, fourth, fifth, fourth, fifth

Newcastle have also fallen an alarmingly long way behind Spurs in terms of commercial revenue as highlighted by Mark Jensen in Newcastle fanzine 'The Mag'.

As far as Sunday's game goes, anything can happen over 90 minutes!

Newcastle were excellent against Chelsea last weekend while Andre Villas Boas bemoaned his fans' attitude about Tottenham's apparent inability to score goals -- they've only managed to hit the net nine times in ten league games this season, although they haven't conceded a goal in 281 Premier League minutes and sit five places above Newcastle in the league in fourth!

With Tottenham's lack of goals is 0-0 a possibility? Not if history is to go by. There hasn't been a goal-less draw between these teams at White Hart Lane in the Premier League era. In fact, there has only been one draw in the 19 games they have played there (1-1 in 1995-96)

Newcastle have performed poorly in London over the years winning only 27 of their 107 games, but six of these wins have been at the Lane -- their happiest London hunting ground along with Upton Park.

Newcastle have only kept 17 clean sheets in those 107 games so I wouldn't rush down to the bookies for that 0-0 if I were you!

To win, Newcastle need to break a run of four consecutive defeats there -- their last victory at the Lane came in 2007-08 when goals from Nicky Butt, Geremi, Michael Owen and a raker from Oba Martins gave Newcastle a 4-1 win.

Fabricio Coloccini returns to fitness for Newcastle although his inclusion will be harsh on whichever centre half misses out -- Mike Williamson and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa were both excellent last week.

It is a tough game for Newcastle and not much is expected, but that is often when they are at their best.

Twitter: @MarcSDuffy


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