After the recent weeks of momentum in the transfer market, an unfamiliar feeling has begun to emerge among many Newcastle fans – optimism.
Left playing catch-up with the rest of the Premier League regarding signings, Newcastle’s recruitment drive finally kicked into gear, and within two or three weeks, Wijnaldum, Mitrovic (pictured above) and Mbemba (subject to visa) have been brought in.
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Fans are slowly starting to buy-in to Mike Ashley’s investment promise prior to the West Ham game. Maybe…just maybe…he has seen the error of his ways and decided to turn the tide?
A poll on The Chronicle’s website asked if fans thought that Newcastle would strengthen enough during the transfer window. For the first time that I can remember, a majority, albeit a small one, actually answered ‘Yes’.
A far cry from similar polls published just after the season finished.
Not wanting to burst anyone’s bubble, but over the course of recent days I have sensed a slight change in the comments and stories coming out of the club, that may suggest that Mbemba’s impending arrival may be the last newcomer of this transfer window.
Firstly, we have Steve McClaren talking up Coloccini as one of Newcastle’s best players, a great captain and wanting him to be playing in a black and white shirt.
In years gone by I would have agreed with him. However, the Argentine’s performances last season suggested that his best years were behind him, and that this summer we would need to bring in two centre-backs.
To replace him, the hapless Mike Williamson and the inconsistent, injury-prone Steven Taylor.
For me, the influence that Coloccini has appeared to have off the field, particularly being Alan Pardew’s golden boy, was troubling.
No player, even the captain, should get involved with things that do not affect the playing side. Yet time and again we heard stories of Colo’s advice being sought about things that would be considered management stuff. In fact, it was he who suggested they sign Facundo Ferreyra, and we all know how that turned out.
Anyway, a comment like this from McClaren does not suggest that the second defender deemed necessary a month or so ago, will be arriving any time soon.
Secondly, we have the latest comments attributed to the manager about him believing there is room for both Cissé and Mitrovic to play together in the same team this season.
Again, this seems to be a veiled admission that this will be our front pairing come the new season, and seems to pour ice over the talked about deals for Charlie Austin and/or Diego Rolán.
Then we have McClaren’s admission after the Sheffield United game that he doesn’t know if any further signings will be made.
Had this been a Pardew or Carver statement, we could have genuinely said that they had no say on the transfer side of things, but with McClaren’s position on the board, I find the fact that he would have no knowledge of what the transfer plans are, hard to believe.
Of course, I may well be wrong, and I hope I am. Maybe McClaren is meaning that the club can’t assume that they will be able to bring the right players in, even though they will try.
Maybe he is trying to think ahead and that, if the signings can’t be made, then he has to keep the current players happy, and therefore talking up their potential within the set-up is a managerial tactic to give them self-belief and confidence that they are part of his plans.
However, the truth is, if they are trying to say the shutters are coming down on our incoming transfer business, we are still a long way short of having the revamped first team that was being talked about, not to mention the building of a squad – not just a team – that can compete in the top half of the table.
Football PR and spin is always made up of smokescreens and misdirection. Let’s hope that this is a case of just that, and that the work behind the scenes to keep optimism high, and the potential bridge-building momentum between the club and its fans – that have, for too long, been at loggerheads with each other – can continue to develop into the new season, and, hopefully, a new era.
However, the alternative, sounds like an all too familiar scenario for Newcastle United.