It’s widely known that Mike Ashley’s policy is to use Newcastle United to advertise Sports Direct for free at the expense of any ambition to compete in the Premiership or cup competitions, and that means he merely has to stay in the Premiership to maximise this business opportunity.
In order to do this for as little outlay as possible, a transfer policy has been implemented to buy unproven young foreign players who will hopefully be sold for a profit if they prove to be good players.
This failed transfer policy and the decisions of a ‘football board’ who seem collectively not fit for purpose, has put us in the current situation where we are in the bottom three after 20 games, not for the first time under Ashley’s ownership.
So now, with the January transfer window upon us, what are the options to address this?
Do nothing. Stay with the current policy, buy young unproven foreign players and gamble with our Premiership status with the probable result of relegation.
Focus our attention on proven Premiership players and add quality to our current first team squad who are clearly struggling at this level, resulting in an increased chance of staying up.
Given relegation will be disastrous for Ashley, I am hoping this is the time he will understand this and change direction by following option 2. Which I believe will give the head coach the tools he needs to do the job and address the current problems, by giving the club the strength in depth it needs to push on.
In order to do this I would suggest this four point plan:
- McClaren must be given more authority to decide who comes in. The system where a board decides who comes in and a coach simply manages what he is given, is clearly not working at Newcastle. I believe a coach needs to have the players he wants in order to prove he can do the job.
- Focus on experienced, proven Premiership players who can come straight into the first team at the expense of some of the current young players who clearly need more time to develop into Premiership players.
- Focus on positions we clearly need to strengthen. Areas I would suggest are a left back, a centre half, central midfield, a right winger and a prolific striker.
- Identify the players early and table reasonable bids close to or equalling the club’s valuation. If a player seems to be taking too long to reach a decision (indicating he doesn’t want to come or is waiting for another club to come in), withdraw the bid and move onto the next target. We don’t have the time to waste.
In addition to this plan, I would bring in Loic Remy on loan now to address the goal scoring problem, regardless of who we buy during the window. It would put him in the shop window so would be to his advantage to perform. A win win situation.
The players I would suggest are Charlie Austin, Dwight Gayle or Patrick Bamford up front, Jonjo Shelvey in midfield and Andros Townsend for right side midfield.
These, together with a left back and centre half would strengthen the first team, provide flexibility in the squad and give the coach the opportunity to develop players such as Thauvin, Mbabu, Aarons and Dummett by gradually introducing them to first team football, or sending them out on loan. The wage bill and 25 man squad could then be maintained by offloading current fringe players and underperforming first team players.
Ashley promised to continue to invest in the club, and he has, but using the current policy it is just not working.
I know it is a lot to ask, and is probably falling on deaf ears, but is it the time for change before it’s too late?
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