Byline: Alan Pardew
SAME PRIORITIES was a 2-0 win at NEWCASTLE United's record in last season's domestic cup competitions was dismal to the point of embarrassing.
A truly dreadful Blackburn Rovers side that would go on to be relegated - and deservedly so - ended their Carling Cup campaign in the fourth round.
The mighty Brighton and Hove Albion did for them in the FA Cup, in the third round, the club's first match of the season in the competition.
Manager Alan Pardew's position at St James' Park, despite these defeats, is as secure as any Newcastle manager in recent times.
In direct contrast, Liverpool sacked Kenny Dalglish, the club's most iconic figure, after he led them to their first trophy in six years, the Carling Cup, and also a FA Cup Final.
The run to that second appearance at Wembley included a late winner against Manchester United and semi-final win over Everton.
Newcastle finished fifth in the league. Liverpool ended up three places further back. Ten years ago, it would have been the men in red who were considered to have had the better season. Not any more.
So is it really any wonder that Pardew is ready to forgo the cups this time around, including the Europa League, to concentrate on finishing as high as possible in the Premier League? Football hasn't quite reached the stage where club accountants are given an open bus ride through the streets on the day they announce a significant profit.
The bunting isn't taken down from the loft, dusted off and hung from every lamppost in a town whose football team have secured fifth place in the league, as Newcastle did in May.
But we have long since passed the point where winning either the Carling Cup or even FA Cup come close to the importance of a top-four finish in the Premier League, or at the very least finishing just outside the Champions League places.
The League Cup, as it remains to some, has had its day. When you hear former QPR manager Neil Warnock say he was glad his team were out of it, as he did last year, then it really is time to take stock.
The FA Cup Final itself still retains some magic, but last year saw it moved to a 5pm kick-off and it's not even on the final day of the season any more, which rather says it all.
It will break the heart of any traditionalist, but the fact is that managers at the biggest clubs see the FA Cup as an unwanted obstacle. Success used to be measured in teams actually winning something over the course of the season.
Now staying in the Premier League is everything and finishing in the top six is far, far more important to a club than watching their players do a lap of honour at Wembley. The reason for this, of course, is money - and lots of it.
Starting from next year, when the new Sky and BT television deal begins, the Premier League will receive pounds 3.018bn until 2016, an increase of 71% from the previous deal.
To break that down, every top-flight club is going to earn, from this time next year, pounds 14m more every season, with the bottom side raking in more than the pounds 60.6m last season's champions Manchester City made. Each individual televised match will now cost the broadcasters pounds 6.6m, up from pounds 4. …