Nobby Solano talks about his 'mixed feelings' about Newcastle United's Champions League 2002/03 run - Chronicle Live

Nobby Solano talks about his ‘mixed feelings’ about Newcastle United’s Champions League 2002/03 run – Chronicle Live

Nobby Solano admits he has mixed memories of Newcastle United’s last spell in the Champions League and believes the Magpies should have achieved more between 2002 and 2004.

Solano was an integral part of the team that propelled Newcastle into Europe’s premier league, but watched as the black and whites failed to invest and improve. That led to a relapse and Solano’s own heartbreaking departure from St James’ Park, before Sir Bobby Robson paid the ultimate price and was sacked.

Solano points to the damage dating back to the summers of both 2002 and 2003 when Newcastle failed to make any major spending in either summer. United opted to sign only younger stars during both summer windows.

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Solano told Chronicle Live: “It was clear in 2002 that we had to invest more then. We signed Hugo Viana, but he was really just a young boy, he had potential and had done well in Portugal, Sir Bobby Robson knew it.

“But he didn’t have a lot of experience. I think we only signed Hugo and Titus Bramble that summer, but what Newcastle really needed that summer were four or five experienced players. We had to play in the Champions League and domestic competitions. , the squad was not in depth to deal with it.

“Titus and Hugo didn’t have the experience. I think the truth is that Freddy Shepherd’s pocketbook wasn’t as big as the current owners! I know we ended up third, but after 2002 we were in a position to push through and won a trophy and didn’t take it because we didn’t have or couldn’t invest enough.”

In any case, Newcastle enjoyed great memories, such as that evening in Feyenoord, the two victories against a very good team of Bayer Leverkusen, a victory over Juventus in which the back four looked more like a Serie A team and the draw in San Siro against Inter Milan . But after arriving there for the second year in a row, Newcastle once again stopped investing, with only Lee Bowyer arriving in the summer of 2003.

Solano said: “I think the same mistake was made not once, but twice. In 2003, after we finished third, there was another opportunity to invest, but we only signed Lee Bowyer. The first time we had we didn’t invest and a year later the wheels came off, by not investing after finishing third the team fell back to fifth the following season and unfortunately Bobby was fired.

“In the end I left the club because Bowyer played in the same wide position as me. It was a shame for me. I went to Aston Villa once, the summer after I finished fifth, they signed players like Patrick Kluivert, Nicky Butt and Stephen Carr. .

“But the team chemistry was gone. We had a good deal with myself, Alan Shearer and Craig Bellamy, but it was broken up. That was a shame for me and the club.”

It wasn’t all bad news for Solano, although he enjoyed taking on the best teams in Europe and still cherishes those memories. Solano added: “To be honest it was nice to qualify a few times but then we weren’t able to fight for it or for the other competitions. For us it was our first chance to be in the Champions League to play, I think only Shearer and Gary Speed ​​had played in it before.

“We just didn’t have enough experience and it showed. Yes, we had some nice nights, but against Barcelona and Inter Milan we saw the level required.”

Solano is now eager to see Newcastle progress to this season’s Champions League and can’t wait for the group stage action to begin. He feels the arrival of Sandro Tonali is a start, but hopes the squad can be strengthened with overs, particularly British stars.

The Peruvian said: “It was positive to see Sandro Tonali come in and Eddie must like him. So it’s good he gets his man. I think it’s always about balance. And also being in a good squad of British players to come.” .

“You look at Bobby’s team and you had myself, Laurent Robert and Nikos Dabizas and Olivier Bernard, then you had Speedo, Shearer and Craig Bellamy. In the Premier League we’ve seen prices skyrocket. Look at Declan Rice. is football in this country.”

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