Newcastle and Southampton: Spot the Difference Between the Toon and the Saints

By John Howell. The home stretch of the Premier League is regarded as the most exciting period of the season - whether you’re a fan biting your nails at the idea of your team playing European football, winning the league or facing the prospect of relegation, there is always something going on. That is unless; you’re a Newcastle United or Southampton fan.

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Papiss Cisse and Jos Hooiveld battle it out earlier on in the season

Both clubs are firmly rooted in mid-table without fear of relegation, and without a chance of snatching a spot in Europe – neither have anything left to play for. Each are separated by just one place – in 8th and 9th respectively.

Yet the mood in the two camps could not be more different.

Whilst fans of the Saints are content, nay, happy, with a potential top ten [10] finish after retaining their League status last year, Newcastle fans are doing what they always do, demanding more of their club, much to the chagrin of boss Alan Pardew.

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Alan Pardew was given the top job at Newcastle in December 2010

A glaring difference in squads is the key. Mauricio Pochettino’s Southampton side boats a team full of potential.

The front three of Adam Lallana, Jay Rodriguez and Rickie Lambert have taken the league by storm with their cohesion and attacking instincts, whilst young talent such as Nathaniel Clyne, Luke Shaw, Jack Cork, and James Ward-Prowse are flourishing, attracting the attention of England’s top sides. Add in the mixture of top quality signings Morgan Schneiderlin, Dejan Lovren, and Gastón Ramírez and you have the recipe for a team that is bound for success for years to come, if Pochettino can keep the squad together.

Newcastle United’s squad however is seemingly held together by medical bag bandages.

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Yohan Cabaye signed for PSG in January for a fee believed to be around £19 million

The woeful transfer dealings of Joe Kinnear, justly removed in January after failing to bring in one permanent first team signing, have had a dreadful impact on the North-East club. The sale of star midfielder Yohan Cabaye, and failure to bring in a replacement with the £19 million brought in, was the final nail in the Kinnear coffin.

To add more misery, the bright spark of the season, Loïc Rémy, is out on loan and quite rightly won’t be staying next year. Why ply your trade in mid-table when you can be earning big bucks and scoring more goals at a top European club?

The Toon struggle to create goals, let alone score them, and the fall from grace for previous maverick Hatem Ben Arfa means Newcastle have no playmaker in the team when Remy is absent.

The paper thin squad has been stretched to their limits since January, and a club record five successive Premier League defeats has seen Newcastle slip from top five contenders before Christmas into a team on the verge of losing their top ten status come May.

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Loic Remy has scored 13 league goals this season on-loan at Newcastle

For Newcastle fans, it’s the same old song – If it’s not problems on the field, its problems off the field that hinder the clubs progress.

Alan Pardew’s seven match ban for head-butting in February cast a shadow over what has already been a turbulent season on Tyneside, the Kinnear appointment was a complete farce, and the lack of signings should be alarm bells for any other club, but not for Newcastle.

Saint’s fans are optimistic to the future, and why shouldn’t they be?

Along with the positives of their squad, financial position and league status assured, Mauricio Pochettino has given the club an identity; the team’s style of play is based on attractive attacking moves, keeping possession and being hard to break down with Morgan Schneiderlin as midfield anchor.

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Morgan Scheiderlen has recently been linked with a move to Manchester United

Newcastle’s style of play is anybody’s guess. No goals, no game plan, and a dressing room full of French players who do not know or understand the identity of the club, let alone the city. The identity crisis needs to be remedied in the post season, should Pardew still be around…

His losing streak could extend to six games with an away trip to Arsenal coming up tonight.

It’s not all doom and gloom on Tyneside however.

Pardew will have money to spend in the summer, and if they finish in the top 10 they’ll be able to rebuild. It’s important they don’t make the same mistakes again – you have to spend money to make money. Tell that to Newcastle owner Mike Ashley!

At the same time, it’s not all roses at Southampton.

Pochettino had a spell as manager of Espanyol before moving to the Saints

Pochettino had a spell as manager of Espanyol before moving to the Saints

The loss of Chairman Nicola Cortese, a trusted and close friend of Pochettino, and the entrance of Ralph Krueger, a man who has spent his entire life within the game of Ice Hockey, as his replacement is a risky change. Pochettino always said he would leave should Cortese go, which makes an interesting time to be a Saint’s fan.

The summer will be a crucial period for both clubs. Will Pochettino and Pardew be given the transfer money they need to push on? What players will come and who will go? Will both managers even be there? A lot of questions and not many answers… yet.

For now, one spot separates but the contrasting moods of both clubs leaves each in a place of their own.

Which club are in better shape heading into the summer? Will Pochettino stay? Will Pardew still be manager of Newcastle come next season?

Read more from John Howell here!

Follow @JHowellWrites

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