Tottenham and Newcastle in line to challenge the top four

With several English clubs now privately owned by billionaires there should be more future competition in the Premiership. Recently it’s been between only two clubs – Manchester United and Chelsea – with Liverpool and Arsenal making up the four teams that seem to be way above the rest of the competition.

However, with teams like Newcastle, Portsmouth, Aston Villa and West Ham being bought by billionaires – that should help add more competition to the Premiership race in the years ahead. We’ll take a look at five teams we think will push hardest to break into the top four in the coming seasons. Of these five however, we believe only Tottenham Hotspur has any real chance of overhauling Arsenal for 4th place next year.

Tottenham – Martin Jol

Well managed by Martin Jol since 2004 and finished in 5th place last season on 60 points – just 8 points behind Arsenal. Tottenham have no billionaire owner but don’t seem short of funds. Martin Jol is turning out to be excellent manager for the North Londoners who have built up their squad over the last few years. Recently signed Darren Bent from Charlton for a whopping ₤16.5M deal which we believe is way overpriced. In addition they have signed Adel Taarabt from Lens and Gareth Bale from Southampton — all top buys. Tottenham are probably favored again for 5th place this year and may just be able to pip Arsenal for 4th place — depending on their remaining summer transfer dealings.

Newcastle United – Sam Allardyce

Sam Allardyce and Mike Ashley have put new life into Newcastle — or at least into their fanatical supporters. Sam has already signed 4 new players Viduka, Barton, Rozehnal and Geremi for a combined fee of less than ₤11M. Allardyce has cleared away some of the deadwood by releasing six players and expect at least another 5-6 players to be brought in sooner rather than later. Sam is busy building his back-room staff for the future and is raiding the Bolton back-room staff — which has caused significant friction with Bolton Chairman Phil Gartside. The Newcastle squad will be improved over last year when the Magpies finished 14th on 43 points — their worst ever premiership performance. With Sam’s motivational powers and organization skills Newcastle may be able to make 6th place — which would be a good start to his tenure at the club.

Everton – David Moyes

Have done extremely well under manager David Moyes the last few years and finished a commendable 6th last year with 58 points. Moyes has not had a lot of money to invest but has generally spent wisely although the deal for Beattie was not one of his best buys. Very well organized and a difficult team to beat and Moyes demands 100% commitment from his players at all times – and gets it. Not a great deal of money to spend on the team but Everton should be there and thereabouts top six again next season — but may be pipped by a resurgent Newcastle side.

Portsmouth – Harry Redknapp

Did well last year finishing in 9th place on 54 points under the wily management of Harry Redknapp. Grant has been brought to Fratton Park by Portsmouth’ Russian owner Alexandre Gaydamak – and fans will hope this will not interfere with Sam’s running of the playing side of the club. Harry has already brought in 3 players this summer in Sulley Ali Muntari from Udinese, Hermann Hreidarsson from Charlton and Sylvain Distin on a free transfer from Manchester City. These are good buys and linked with his acquisition of Campbell, James and Lauren – Harry is building up a good strong squad. Top eight side next season at least.


Aston Villa – Martin O’Neill

This season will be a big challenge for Martin O’Neill who did OK last year in his first season at the helm. Finished well at the end of last season to position Villa in 11th place with 50 points. Hasn’t yet moved in the transfer market this summer and seemed to have recently lost out to Newcastle for Geremi – but they seem to be actively trailing Nigel Reo-Coker from West Ham – but may have to pay big bucks. Villa’s American owner Randy Lerner has lots of cash and will back Martin in the transfer market. More good players need to be brought in during the summer transfer market to allow a major challenge on top six – but that still seems unlikely next season.

Other teams that may be challenging for top eight next season include Manchester City under new owner Thaksin Shinawatra and ex-England boss Sven Erikkson — but they will need some time to build up their sqaud. West Ham United may be a surprise next year under Alan Curbishley after their amazing escape from relegation — winning six of their last seven games. Recently signed £6.1M Julien Faubert from Bordeaux and took Scott Parker from Newcastle earlier this summer for £7M. Much will depend on whether they can secure Carlos Tevez for next season — a truly world class forward who gives 100% effort and commitment every game – and is in great demand.

Blackburn and Middlesbrough are other teams that should do better than last season. We feel Blackburn could do a lot better but manager Mark Hughes — who continues to make great buys with yesterday’s £350K signing of Maceo Ritgers from NAC Breda — needs more cash to bring in quality players.

Of the five featured teams our choice of the two teams to make up the top six next season would be Tottenham and Newcastle — probably in that order.

Which teams do you think can realistically challenge the top four? Will Tottenham (or Newcastle) break into the exclusive club? Discuss this and more in the SL forum.

Written by Ed Harrison, who runs the best Newcastle United blog on the planet.

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