Glenn Moore: Why trophy-starved Newcastle should make winning the FA Cup their priority

The time is right while others are turning their backs on the old pot

Premier League managers could “do without” the FA Cup according to one of their number, Aston Villa’s Paul Lambert.

The Scot, desperately trying to keep his young team clear of a relegation scrap, will be fielding a weakened side against Sheffield United today and Lambert would probably not mind losing were it not for the embarrassment of defeat to a League One team.

This is understandable, given the cost of relegation to the club, and to Lambert’s employment prospects. Randy Lerner, Villa’s owner, need only look at the current status of today’s opposition – or the likes of Wolves, Leeds, Nottingham Forest and Sheffield Wednesday – to appreciate that a large ground and illustrious heritage are no guarantee of top-flight return.

Wigan’s bittersweet double last season, relegation and an FA Cup win, has punctured any lingering romantic ideals among Lambert and Lerner’s brethren and from Hull, in 10th, to Sunderland, in 20th, the priority will be fighting relegation. It is not just the spectre of Wigan that haunts them. Bolton, now drowning in £163m debt and floundering in the Championship, never recovered from the 5-0 FA Cup semi-final drubbing Stoke City delivered in 2011.

And yet, did the FA Cup really cost Wigan their top-flight status? Wigan were 18th when they began their FA Cup campaign and 18th when they finished it. They had finished in the bottom six the previous three seasons and it was inevitable, such were their resources, that they would eventually run out of luck. At least Wigan fans have the memory of Ben Watson’s Wembley winner, and a debut European campaign, to cherish in the Championship.

The FA Cup was certainly good for Roberto Martinez. He already had a reputation as a bright young manager, but would Bill Kenwright have hired him were it not for the Cup run, especially the quarter-final, when Wigan tore Everton to pieces at Goodison Park? “A good run in the Cup is always positive,” insists Martinez.

Everton have Champions League dreams and it will be interesting to see what XI Martinez fields against QPR. Much as he admires the competition, anyone with a niggling injury is likely to be rested.

The same maxim will apply at most top-flight clubs. Chelsea should field a decent team at Derby as they have a deep squad and Jose Mourinho commits to winning everything. Local rivalry dictates that Arsenal and Tottenham cannot take today’s meeting too lightly, but whoever wins it may then drop the FA Cup down a notch as they will be committed in Europe until after the FA Cup fifth round at least. The Manchester clubs are not only in the Champions League, but also have the Capital One Cup to consider. The semi-finals begin on Wednesday and the final, which form suggests City and United will contest, is not until a week before the FA Cup sixth round.

What of Liverpool who, like Everton, are unencumbered by other commitments? Since they won the League Cup and played in the FA Cup final as recently as 2012, Brendan Rodgers can be expected to concentrate on the quest for fourth, or even first, place.

Which leaves Southampton and Newcastle United of Premier League clubs. Saints are in freefall as Mauricio Pochettino’s hard-pressing style takes its toll on a small squad and the Argentine may take the opportunity to give players a breather at home to Burnley. But Newcastle... well this could be, should be, Newcastle’s year.

The last time Newcastle won a proper trophy (disregarding the Anglo-Italian, Texaco and Intertoto Cups) ships were still being built at Swan Hunter and Apollo 11 was about to head off for the moon. It was the summer of ’69 and, though Bryan Adams didn’t mention it in his hit of that name, Newcastle were making history.

Having sneaked into the Inter-Cities’ Fairs Cup (a predecessor of the Europa League) despite finishing 10th the previous season owing to the competition’s odd entry requirement, Joe Harvey’s team beat Feyenoord, Sporting Lisbon, Real Zaragoza, Vitoria Setubal and Rangers before facing Ujpesti Dozsa in the final. The Hungarians were a good side, good enough to defeat Don Revie’s Leeds in the quarter-finals, but, roared on by the shipyard workers who had just launched the huge Esso Northumbria supertanker, the Magpies won the first leg-3-0.

Ujpesti took a 2-0 lead in the Budapest return but captain Bobby Moncur struck back and Newcastle ran out 3-2 winners on the night, 6-2 on aggregate.

Forty-four years on, Moncur, Willie McFaul, Frank Clark, Bryan “Pop” Robson, Wyn Davies and the Dane Preben “Benny” Arentoft remain legends on Tyneside.

And no wonder. Apart from the aforementioned minor baubles, the St James’ Park trophy cabinet has subsequently gathered only cobwebs. Newcastle have been beaten finalists in the FA Cup thrice, runners-up in the Premier League twice and the Football League Cup once, but success has remained elusive. A staggering 30 clubs, including Sunderland and Middlesbrough as well as Oxford United and Luton Town, have won a major trophy since Newcastle did.

The last of Newcastle’s six FA Cup wins is even more distant, 1955 completing a trio in the 1950s, the black-and-white era for both shirts and pictures. It is time for new heroes.

Newcastle’s modern-day squad may be predominantly French but players of all nationalities like winning and a Wembley final has global appeal. Moreover, Alan Pardew, an FA Cup finalist as a player (Crystal Palace) and a manager (West Ham) knows better than most top-flight bosses the pull of the old pot and can transmit that to his players.

And battered though it may be, the FA Cup still has power. Its allure emptied the Potteries in 2011 and left Wigan’s streets deserted last May. When Portsmouth won the Cup in 2008, a crowd of 200,000 welcomed it home. Imagine the impact winning would have on a region besotted with football and starving for silverware. Were Newcastle to get to Wembley, especially this team, which is a match for most, there would be an exodus.

Pardew has said he will “freshen” his team for today’s tie against Cardiff City but also promised to “attack the game”. He should pick his strongest XI and make the FA Cup his priority. There is nothing to lose. Relegation is not a threat, while the holiday programme suggests the Champions League is out of reach. The season could now drift, with only the dubious prize of a Europa League place to chase, or it could roll to a crescendo.

The FA Cup and Newcastle United are the perfect combination, both living on past glories and in need of a tonic. The FA Cup needs to be wanted, and Newcastle want to win it. Allez les noirs et blancs, allez.

Arts & Entertainment
A stranger calls: Martin Freeman in ‘Fargo’
tvReview: New 10-part series brims with characters and stories

Arts & Entertainment
Shaun Evans as Endeavour interviews a prisoner as he tries to get to the bottom of a police cover up
Review: Second series comes to close with startling tale of police corruption and child abuse
Sport
Raheem Sterling and Luis Suarez celebrate during Liverpool's game with Norwich
football Another hurdle is out of the way for Brendan Rodgers' side
Arts & Entertainment
Schwarzenegger winning Mr. Universe 1969
arts + entsCan you guess the celebrity from these British Pathe News clips?
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
Portrait of Queen Elizabeth-II by David Bailey which has been released to mark her 88th birthday
peoplePortrait released to mark monarch's 88th birthday
Arts & Entertainment
The star of the sitcom ‘Miranda’ is hugely popular with mainstream audiences
TVMiranda Hart lined up for ‘Generation Game’ revival
Life & Style
The writer, Gerda Saunders, with her mother, who also suffered with dementia before her death
healthGerda Saunders on the most formidable effect of her dementia
Sport
Manchester United manager David Moyes looks on during his side's defeat to Everton
footballBaines and Mirallas score against United as Everton keep alive hopes of a top-four finish
Sport
Tour de France 2014Sir Rodney Walker on organising the UK stages of this year’s race
Arts & Entertainment
Jessica Brown Findlay as Mary Yellan in ‘Jamaica Inn’
TVJessica Brown Findlay on playing the spirited heroine of Jamaica Inn
News
YouTube clocks up more than a billion users a month
mediaEuropean rival Dailymotion certainly thinks so
Arts & Entertainment
The original design with Charles' face clearly visible, which is on display around the capital
arts + ents
Arts & Entertainment
‘Self-Portrait Worshipping Christ’ (c943-57) by St Dunstan
books How British artists perfected the art of the self-portrait
News
People
News
Sir Cliff Richard is to release his hundredth album at age 72
PEOPLE
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter: The man who could have been champion of the world - and the Bob Dylan song that immortalised him

The man who could have been champion of the world

Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter and the Bob Dylan song that immortalised him
Martin Freeman’s casting in Fargo is genius

Martin Freeman’s casting in Fargo is a stroke of genius

Series is brimming with characters and stories all its own
The Middle East we must confront in the future will be a Mafiastan ruled by money

The Middle East we must confront in the future will be a Mafiastan ruled by money

In Iraq, mafiosi already run almost the entire oil output of the south of the country
Didn’t she do well?

Didn’t she do well?

Miranda Hart lined up for ‘Generation Game’ revival
Before they were famous

Before they were famous

Can you guess the celebrity from these British Pathe News clips?
How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players