It’s very nearly the end of January, which is great because it’s a miserable festering sore of a month populated entirely by skint fat people eating spinach and questioning their very existence (no, just me then?) amid twenty-odd hours of darkness.
Unfortunately, it also means the overhyped gaudy charade that is January transfer window deadline day on Sky Sports news, with its hysterical little yellow bar repeatedly screeching out the detail of some lower league loan while Jim White gurns away excitedly at the prospect of total silence and darkness outside the Middlesbrough training ground (6 hours 47 minutes to go!).
This used to be relevant at a point when clubs would play along, banging huge sums on desperate buys at ten to eleven. While this still may be the case in late August, most have wised up to the fact that nipping in for a new left-back in the final seconds of January leaves one wide open to have the pi** took out of oneself, and perhaps you should not allow yourself get to that point without already having a left-back.
The big clubs have long ago cottoned on to this and the only value in Sky’s deadline day extravaganza is watching charvas wave sex products at reporters.
After a January of desperate activity last year, Newcastle have been disappointingly quiet this time round. Is it really that bad though?
I might be being Jeremiah Jolly-Jockeys here, but recent problems have seen the depth brought in by Rafa last summer emerge to admirably plug the gaps as Murphy, Hanley and Yedlin are stepping up to bigger roles with only the absence of the practically irreplaceable Shelvey proving costly.
It seems that a spare winger is the manager’s priority, with ongoing sagas around Modou Barrow and Andros Townsend the only likely chatter until nothing happens on Tuesday. If they fit the plan, then great, but the plan has got to be strictly pointed at the Premier League.
I might be running the risk of being quoted as a daft lad in future – but in spite of recent wobbles I can’t see any of the teams in the play-off positions putting a strong enough run together to overhaul Newcastle.
There’s a battle on with Brighton for the trophy that I really hope we come out on top in, but the main thing is finishing above that line and progressing to where we should be. It’s no secret that to move forward on this, we will need a considerable overhaul of our first team, as people who have been admirable performers in the Championship need to be used as squad members or moved on altogether.
Don’t get me wrong, the right reinforcements would be very welcome, but there’s a time and place to build your Premier League squad, and it ain’t the January window.
There’s an argument for Townsend’s value given his contribution last season, but his time in NE1 seems to have been a blip in between a downward trajectory at Spurs and a miserable time at Selhurst Park. But Rafa seems to want him and I trust the man 100%.
Actually, do I?
A couple of results this week have really, really wound me up. No, not the promotion rivals winning, we just need to win more. The teeth gnashing results have been Southampton sending Liverpool out of the league cup while our quarter final conquerors Hull came ever so close against Man Utd.
If we had held on to our extra time lead at the K-Com it could have been Newcastle United facing an out of sorts Man U at a heaving SJP for a place in a winnable final against the Saints. Fanciful, yes, but we’ll never know as 10-man Hull were allowed to turn the game thanks to a poor effort from Matz Sels.
The imperious form of Darlow ever since he was first called upon to fill the number one shirt made this a questionable signing for me, and that has evolved to genuinely wondering how many of the 11 dropped points during Sels tenure in nets might have been salvaged had the former Forest man been in pegs?
I actually have quite wild opinions on Darlow, the first goalie we’ve had in memory that truly commands his box, regularly coming out with confidence to claim crosses with both hands (as opposed to weak punches). This coupled with some spectacular shot-stopping and an uncanny ability to save penalties makes him my very favourite goalie in the whole world and I would hope this season’s form extends to a lengthy run in the Premier League.
For me this has been Rafa’s only slip in the transfer market, reminiscent of Kevin Keegan’s similar goalie blindness that once saw an ill-fated early attempt to replace Pavel Srnicek with the lumbering Mike Hooper. Perhaps Rafa has a similar blind spot and I couldn’t think of a higher compliment for Darlow than to consider him the Pavel of the Tennies.
So leave the goal alone please Rafa, but everywhere else I know that you know what we all know you need to do. If that begins in the coming days, perfect. If not I don’t know anyone who would complain of the prospect of Ritchie and Atsu on the wings for the foreseeable future.
So I for one will not be pacing the floor, screaming abuse at the TV as the clock ticks down to nothing on Tuesday. It’s all in hand.
Follow Jamie on Twitter @Mr_Dolf