It's no surprise that the top four never really change in the English Premiership, just the order in which they fall, and not by much at that. Much like the relegation battles that permeate the last half of seasons around the world, the honor of a UEFA Cup spot does present itself as a legitimate competition for most clubs, and without any irony.
Newcastle United, newly purchased, with a new bung-taking, cud-chewing gaffer and a few acquisitions so far, may be the club to contend with the likes of Tottenham, Everton and Fat Sam's old club, Bolton. The Magpies have always held a special spot in my heart, from the clinical power of Alan Shearer and the distinctive kit, to the rabid, pie-eating, venom-spewing fans that meet up on a regular basis to protest either the former chairman Freddie Shepherd or just the general malaise that seems to have fallen on the club.
Sure Jean-Alain Boumsong was a good joke, as was paying Michael Owen about $4M per goal up to this point. Lately, fans had taken to abusing Kieron Dyer, attacking his house and moe-tah after they learned the midfielder desired a move from St. James' Park (He's now seemingly on his way to West Ham). Well, now we have a mini-Leeds reunion in Newcastle, as Alan Smith looks set to join the Magpies on a 12M deal, which should see him up front with former Leeds-Middlesbrough frontman Mark Viduka.
While Allarydce is frustrated over the lack of big signings, you have to argue that the only way is up for the club. The Magpies finished in 13th postion last year and haven't won anything of significance since the FA cup in 1955. With Owen now healthy, David Rozenahl instead of the hapless former back line, and an attacking option in Geremi, Newcastle looks one or two midfield players short of a squad that can contend, but should give the clubs at the bottom half of the top ten a challenge.
[Times Online, BBC Football]