The recent upsurge in debate started because of an article written by Neil Moxley of the Mirror on Sunday. And got me asking..

So just what is the Newcastle United transfer policy?

During Rafa’s press conference on Tuesday ,there was only going to be one hot topic and that was what was the significance of Mike Ashley attending the recent games and did he want a change back to the old transfer policy of buying young and selling at a profit as suggested in Moxley’s article.

Well first of all, Ashley owns the club and he can attend a match and/or talk to the people he is paying to look after one of his biggest assets if he wants to, so I don’t see that as a problem, but what about the Newcastle United transfer policy?

Here are the main questions asked, Rafa’s responses and my take on it all.

Has there been a ‘change’ in transfer strategy at Newcastle? Or has an underlying policy to prioritise signing young players with profit potential, but which allows Benitez the flexibility to acquire experience when necessary, always been in place?

Rafa Benitez:

“We have had the same way to work as we have had during this month. I talk with Lee Charnley, we analyse all the options, we have meetings with the scouts and we ask for names. We check the names and after we go with the names and we try to sign the players. That is the same thing.

“I am not worried about if they are 21, 28 or 30. The first thing for me is if he is good enough, and then we put the name there and if we can sign the player, we sign the player. If we cannot, then we need to find solutions.”

(So the scouts, including Graham Carr, choose the players and give the list to Rafa who chooses from that list. It doesn’t say that Rafa can suggest any player and if that’s the case I’m surprised)

Do those solutions include the ability to sign another 30-something-year-old this month if necessary?

Rafa Benitez:

“We were trying to sign a player that we wanted, and after we signed Daryl because he has the experience in the division, It has proved that you have to have a balance. Our squad is quite young. If you see the average age, I think we are in the middle of the division. I think the oldest is Brighton. Brighton is near the top with experienced players.

“My point is that we have to be so happy that we are in a very good position, changing players, making profit, all these things together. For me, it is very simple to understand what we need and try to improve the team.”

(So we CAN sign older players and Rafa is making a point of saying although profit is important, it has to go hand in hand with the correct type of player regardless of age)

If Rafa asked Charnley to go out and sign any player he said was essential to the club’s progression, but was told he was unable to do so, would he be able to continue as manager under such a regime?

Rafa Benitez:

“What I have to do is to win games, to prepare my team in the best way possible to win games, I think we have a good squad. I trust these players. We are looking to get promoted and I will try to do my best in any case.

“My compromise with the club, with the fans, with the owner, with everyone, is to try my best and try to go up. The main thing is, is if I can try to do things in the way that I want to do things; if I cannot, I cannot. But at the moment, we continue and we still have time to do what we have to do in the transfer window. I said at the beginning [of my time here] that we are doing really well. So I think it is important to understand that it is a way to work that has been successful, and it’s the best way possible now for us.

“My understanding is that if you have a good manager, leave him to take responsibility.”

(So he doesn’t answer the question – he is saying if you have a manager then let him make the decisions, but he falls short of saying whether he would leave if this changed. “If I can try to do things in the way I want: if I cannot, I cannot”, this doesn’t sound like a man who has full control of all football matters but is he saying he accepts this?)

So to summarise, it doesn’t actually say that he is in charge of all transfers as we all thought.

It falls short of actually saying he can choose any player he wants and says he is given a list of players from the scouts, presumably this includes Carr who we assumed had taken a back seat.

I would have thought the ‘written agreements’ of the assurances he wanted prior to him signing the contract would give him free rein to sign any player he wants to but his responses don’t appear to be the words of a man who HAS that responsibility.

Signing Daryl Murphy shows we can stray from Ashley’s ‘young players with sell on potential for financial profit’ policy but Rafa is pointing out there has to be a balance between ‘changing players to actually improve the team’ and to create profit, which seems to indicate the Murphy purchase was an exception to the normal policy.

As with: “We are doing really well. It is important to understand it is a way to work that has been successful, and it’s the best way possible now for us. If you have a good manager, leave him to take responsibility”, this indicates that Rafa is not too concerned at the current position but I get the feeling a lot of Rafa’s comments were directed at Ashley as much as the press, saying it works so let me get on with it without interference.

God only knows what Rafa’s reaction will be if new restrictions are imposed on him but Ashley would do well to remember what affect his previous strategy had on the club and where we would be now if Rafa hadn’t agreed to step in when he did and implement the changes he has.

It reminds me of the old saying, “if it ain’t broke…”

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