We might have feared it but never could have quite believed it, that four days after pre season training started and only five days before the opening friendly, Newcastle United are still to buy a single player in this transfer window.
Of course this hasn’t stopped the newspapers selling their wares based on transfer stories, quite the opposite.
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Only two years ago Newcastle almost got relegated and then spent a whole summer without buying one first team squad player.
I’m not saying that is necessarily going to be repeated but one other thing has certainly changed for this transfer window.
Sitting here today, there isn’t a single Newcastle player that I would be gutted to see leave.
On a sliding scale, there are some I’d be very disappointed to see go, others I’d rather they stayed, whilst the majority I would happily drive them to their next club.
Over a period of years, Newcastle’s star players have either been sold or are pale shadows of what they once were.
No matter what the fees were (which after all is a bit immaterial to us anyway as it doesn’t make any difference to Mike Ashley’s transfer actions), I was gutted to see Andy Carroll, Yohan Cabaye, Mathieu Debuchy, Jose Enrique, Hatem Ben Arfa and Demba Ba leave the club.
Yes some of them have proved to be flawed characters, some have had serious problems with injuries, plus issues when it comes to competing for a place in the team at an ambitious club.
With all six of these players I would worry when they were linked with moves because I couldn’t see how Newcastle would attract a better player, or indeed anybody as good, especially within the cynical way Mike Ashley controls the club.
History has shown so far that we Newcastle haven’t improved on any of these six players, even Hatem Ben Arfa, can you honestly say that he wouldn’t have contributed a whole lot more than what Cabella, Ameobi, Obertan and Gouffran offered in total last season?
He may not have been reliable every week but that is what comes with creative players, especially wingers, if they are capable of doing it every week then they are real superstars.
The exception to the above is Mathieu Debuchy, in that Daryl Janmaat has proved his equal, though in my opinion not his better as many people choose to believe.
I think it was a disgrace how he handled his departure last summer by declaring before the world cup that he was going to decide his future after the competition, though he did want to play Champions League football….but this doesn’t alter the fact that he was superb in 2013/14 and for many people their player of the season.
Getting back to where we are now, after that 2011/12 season I would have also been gutted to lose Fabricio Coloccini (voted onto the PFA team of the season that year), Tim Krul (no keeper better at that point in my opinion) and Papiss Cisse (half a season of averaging a goal a game and 90% of them goal of the season contenders).
They might still be three of United’s better players but that is only because they are playing alongside Riviere, Williamson, Gouffran, Cabella, Dummett, Ameobi, Anita and so on.
It is a massive (but sad) hidden relief that I no longer worry about reading the transfer gossip with concerns that this is the window when Cabaye or Ba or whoever is finally going to jump.
Newcastle’s best players last season were Daryl Janmaat, Jack Colback and Ayoze Perez.
Perez is promising and could be a decent Premier League player, Colback is a worker and with Janmaat, the fact we managed to sign somebody who was as good as Debuchy leads me to believe we could do it again. The reality being that there are a lot of players out there who can do a good job at full-back but very few who can score or create goasl, or be the centre-back who you build your defence around.
United’s most talented player is Moussa Sissoko and the one who would command the biggest transfer fee if he left. However, after his lack of character and effort over much of last season, his heart clearly isn’t at our club and not somebody we can rely on.
It would be bad news if he left because I do feel he will put it in this time because of next summer’s Euros in France, but he isn’t somebody I have grown attached to or look forward to watch playing.
It is a bit like Mike Ashley’s retail giant, he has a few name brands that help to get the punters in to then buy the rubbish that is piled up around them.
If those are stripped away though, then you have something that more resembles a jumble sale than anything that would pull you through the door.
This is Newcastle United, a team without superstars but with a few who still believe they are.
Selling our most talented players and replacing them with cheap alternatives has proved a disaster, what we are left with is a whole host of players not fit for purpose that we can’t get rid of. With Ashley then adding to them with further budget buys such as Riviere who add to the pile of damaged stock that can’t be shifted.
Are Newcastle seriously interested in Charlie Austin, Georginio Wijnaldum and other players with a track record/pedigree?
I’d love it, really love it, if United signed some (relative) superstars – players who I would look forward to see playing.
I’m not going to panic as what’s the point, I/we can’t influence Mike Ashley to go down the only realistic/sensible course of competing for proper players instead of taking massive gambles.
At least I can sit here and enjoy my summer, devoid of worries about losing any of our superstars.
We haven’t got any and the only possible superstars inside St James Park these days are sitting in the stands and paying for the privelege, though whether those fans are part of the problem or the solution depends on your own personal viewpoint of dealing with Mike Ashley.