Graham Carr

Mick Lowes has long been the voice of the Magpies on BBC Radio Newcastle, and every fortnight he writes an exclusive blog for nufc.co.uk. Here he sums up a memorable campaign for the Magpies which ended in European qualification, and explains the role of Chief Scout Graham Carr in the weeks ahead...

I felt all along that perhaps the Champions League was a step too far for Newcastle last season, so I was never unduly preoccupied with the Club qualifying for the competition.

But with Chelsea ultimately winning the tournament ten days ago in such dramatic fashion, that fourth spot in the Premier League was made redundant in terms of qualification.

Round-by-round, it looked for all the world like Chelsea were destined to win it, and even though the final was a bit one-sided in Bayern Munich's favour, I wasn't too surprised by the outcome.

So put yourselves in the shoes of Tottenham Hotspur's fans, who had to sit through extra time and penalties at the Allianz Arena wondering if their fourth-place finish was going to be enough to put them back among Europe's elite.

Dropping from the Champions League to the Europa League is something you wouldn't have wanted to go through as a supporter, so in many ways it was perhaps a blessing in disguise that we knew precisely where we stood.

We knew that we'd secured European football and we have to be happy and grateful for that. Of course, the Champions League place would have been nice but maybe that's for another day.

The message all along has been let's not run before we can walk and let's not set our sights too high, and rightly so because this is a rebuilding process and one that is probably a year ahead of itself, as Alan Pardew has previously suggested.

As a result of that, I don't think you can be disappointed in any way shape or form with a fifth place finish in arguably the most competitive league in world football, and we have to be happy with the ways things turned out.

It was nice to see a new face brought in early in the shape of Romain Amalfitano, and we've had so much evidence over the past 18 months that this is a football club who are better equipped than they've ever been in terms of doing their homework in the transfer market.

The Club appears appear to be permanently working towards bringing in players - be it in six months, 12 months or 18 months time, and you only have to go back to conversations with Pardew about Papiss Cissé, who admitted that they weren't just watching him for the three years while he was at Freiburg, they were watching him before that in France.

That should give the fans great encouragement and confidence in the system that they have in place, and I've no doubt the powers that be have got their eyes on the upcoming European Championships, because it's a competition that puts potential targets on the big stage.

But football is a huge business nowadays and it would be naive of us to assume that we can bring in a Cheick Tioté or a Yohan Cabaye every single time because once Newcastle are linked with a player these days, people take a lot more notice.

That's simply because of the Club's recent track record, so in many ways we're the pacesetters and once we're after somebody then others follow our lead and it becomes less straightforward.

Indeed, one of the most reassuring things I've heard from any member of the United staff in recent times came from chief scout Graham Carr, who said as a Newcastle supporter over the years, he was sick and tired of the club he loved wasting money on players who should never have been signed in the first place.

I think that puts things into perspective, because not only have you got somebody who clearly has a good knowledge of players Europe-wide and of the game itself, he is first and foremost a Magpies fan who was sick of seeing multi-million pound players who turned up and didn't deliver.

I always thought that was one of the great statements because he wants to right all of those wrongs from over the years and he certainly seems to be doing that.

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