Former Newcastle left-back Jose Enrique spent four years with Newcastle after joining from Villareal in 2007. He endured the low of relegation in 2009 but stuck with the club to help Newcastle bounce straight back up to the Premier League.
However, the following year saw the club sell Andy Carroll and captain Kevin Nolan, and it proved to be too much for the Spaniard. He publicly criticized the club’s transfer business and was sold to Liverpool in August of 2011. Joey Barton left for QPR just a few weeks later.
Ironically, Newcastle had a stellar season that year and finish 5th in the Premier League. However, it turned out to be an artificial bump as the club began the slide toward their second relegation under Mike Ashley just five years later.
Jose Enrique has made some comments about where he believes Newcastle should be challenging year in and out. Here is what he had to say as published in the Shields Gazette:
“Obviously, top four is very difficult, but it should be a team that fights for fifth and six position, definitely. It’s very difficult now, but it should be a team fighting for Europa League. It should be there.”
“I think it’s a team for the Premier League. It’s a team that should be fighting for things.
“Steve Bruce is a top manager as well. Rafa was doing well with not much money to spend. All of a sudden they give so much money to spend this summer instead of giving it to Rafa. Hopefully, they don’t get relegated.”
Unfortunately, Rafa had the club primed for a run at European competition if he received the right backing this summer. However, the club did not seem to share Rafa’s vision for Newcastle United, and the Spanish legend left when his contract ran out.
We are not sure if there is a correlation between Rafa leaving and funds becoming available under newly appointed Steve Bruce. The Joelinton and Allan Saint-Maximin deals seemed to have been in the works for some time before being completed.
However, it’s not likely that Newcastle will be challenging in the top half this season. We’ll have to see what transpires in the next two windows to see if it’s where they can aspire to get to next year.