No matter what level they play, Newcastle United will always be a draw for top talent. It’s just that kind of club, according to former Magpies winger Keith Gillespie.
Gillespie says it was no shock to see quality players such as Matt Ritchie, Mo Diame and Dwight Gayle, leave the Premier League to ply their trade at St James’ Park, this summer.
The wideman, who spent three years at the club between 1995 and 1998, reckons United will always have that kind of pull.
“That is just the allure Newcastle has,” he said.
“It is important to get the right people in and I think Newcastle have the right manager to bring them in.
“I thought Ritchie was excellent at Bournemouth. I was very surprised they let him go.
“It just shows what a pull Newcastle is that he was prepared to drop down to the Championship.
“I think he looks really good. Dwight Gayle is another one who has come down from Crystal Palace, Diame has come down from Hull. It’s a sign of how big the club is.”
Ahead of this weekend’s clash with Brentford, Gillespie accepts his former club are yet to really pull up any trees in the division.
But, having seen them dispatch of Norwich City, who the 41-year-old believes are United’s biggest rivals, Gillespie thinks Newcastle will kick on.
He said: “Norwich are probably the main contender to win the league alongside Newcastle.
“To win that game was huge. I think they will kick on from now.”
Gillespie played for a Manchester select XI in last weekend’s Entertainers match, which marked 20 years since Kevin Keegan’s side beat title rivals Manchester United 5-0 at St James’.
Reflecting back on his time in the city, he just can’t comprehend United being outside of the top flight for any length of time.
“This place is incredible in terms of what they feel about football and what it means to them,” he said.
“This place needs Premiership football and I think this time next year they will have it because Newcastle are geared for the Premiership.
“They should be a top six side every year because of the size of the place, the city, everything in terms of what football means to them. You know they will always get behind you.”