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Nol Solano Reacts To Brighton Loss, Misses Important Distinctions

Nolberto Solano is a Toon legend and he (unlike some players who have passed through) still has demonstrable affinity for the club. He has missed a point in his comments to the Chronicle recently, however.

Not this year.
Not this year.
Dean Mouhtaropoulos

Nolberto Solano signed for Newcastle United in 1998 and ended his first stint on Tyneside in June of 2001 (3 seasons). He would return for two more seasons (2006 and 07) bringing his time with the club to a total of 5 seasons. In that time, he endeared himself so much to the Toon Army that he became a club legend. Additionally, he makes no bones today about the fact that he still loves the club. He is the embodiment of what dreamers (read: persons such as myself that still have a shred of belief that loyalty to a club is not dead) hope for in players for their club.

Brighton was embarrassing. No two ways about it. We all knew that we were likely to write off the FA Cup as the squad were demonstrably without legs toward the end of the holiday programme and injuries are still piling on top of that. What was surprising was the complete lack of fire, heart, discipline... any number of descriptors fit here. On the whole, there was mass hysteria (warranted) up to and including calls for Alan Pardew's head (probably a bit sensational). Nol registered his disdain at the squad selection and performance as well.

"I know that there are injuries but Newcastle weren’t at full strength against Brighton.

"Man United, Arsenal and Chelsea can get away with playing kids and resting players because their kids are on a different level.

"But it’s not like Newcastle are saving players’ legs for a challenge for the Champions League.

None of this is false. Newcastle had better players that Alan Pardew could have selected. We're not saving legs for the Champions League (although we are currently still involved in the Europa League in which progress to a certain point could ensure European competition once again). We're not Man U, Arsenal, Chelsea. Fair enough. The difficulty I have with Nobby's statements in the piece by Lee Ryder is that it belies an inaccurate view of where Newcastle United are at today.

The Peruvian knows that United supporters love nothing more than a run in the FA Cup.

However, their interest in the competition was dead and buried at Brighton.

Solano – who saw the game on TV from his home in South America – told the Chronicle from Peru: "When you know you aren’t going to get a top-five finish in the Premier League then you HAVE to go for it in the FA Cup.

"I can’t understand why they haven’t.

This year will mark 58 years since Newcastle United last won the FA Cup. In spite of that, we've still won 7th most all-time in the competition. We've made the fourth-most appearances in the final all-time. The last time we made the final was 1999 under Ruud Gullit. A deep run to Wembley (semi-final) followed quickly thereafter in the Sir Bobby Robson era. There is a notable difference here, though. These runs came in the free-spending Sir John Hall days. Long cup runs, qualifying for Europe and presence in the top 6 was the rule, not the exception. Capping salaries was not something that was heard of, let alone at 75% of a "cheap spend" for a "top club".

I commend his desire for Newcastle to make a run in the cup. Any major honor would ensconce the Ashley Era as "That Era that was soooooo frustrating... BUT". I get it. The reality, however, is that this squad this year under this spending structure is not equipped to take on such a run. A tired, injured, thin squad doesn't need a deep cup run this year. I have no problem with not progressing in the FA Cup (although the performance was a different matter) and we may ultimately crash out of the Europa League... but we're still in with a shout. Ultimately, there is one ultimate goal for Newcastle United this year, and it doesn't involve the league cup, the FA Cup or the Europa League. It's survival.