The Vital Transfer Question Mike Ashley Has To Answer
Newcastle United’s flirtation with relegation has led to much ‘debate’ about where things went wrong, with manager, owner and players all having the finger pointed at them.
The answer of course has to be all of them to varying degrees, the bigger and more important question though is how do they put it right.
While a decent number of fans have questioned whether Alan Pardew would/should stay in the job, Derek Llambias appeared to make clear that there was no chance of changing managers for next season. So with the manager and owner looking to still be in position for the big kick-off, what about the playing squad?
While I accept Alan Pardew got a number of things wrong last season, in mitigation you have to accept that certainly for the first half of last season he had been badly let down by Mike Ashley. Having made clear when interviewed at the end of last season, that there were a number of positions he was desperate to strengthen, the block was obviously put on it from above.
We then had the bizarre situation of five new signings in the January window, four of them French internationals!
There was an admission from both Llambias and Pardew that the club should have strengthened more last summer but it was revealed that at least some of the January signings, such as Gouffran and Sissoko, were lined up to come to St.James’ Park this summer and were brought forward due to Newcastle struggling in the Premier League.
So my question revolves around exactly how the likes of Mike Ashley and Derek Llambias view the situation now, in a nutshell;
Do they accept that the January signings were ones they should have made last summer, or do they still see them as this summer’s signings brought forward?
My real fear is that last summer is going to be almost repeated, with possibly a major outlay on a striker and only a little bit of tinkering here and there otherwise.
It leaves me cold when I hear talk from the club of needing to bring in one or two signings and how there are high hopes for the kids stepping up etc etc. There’s nothing better than seeing local kids come through the ranks and those of my generation and beyond will recall the excitement generated when Gazza came through, a very special time.
However, I have to say that I have still seen nothing that suggests to me anything has changed in how I see our younger players. The only young players I wouldn’t worry about playing are the likes of Santon and Haidara who were bought in and both look to have big futures. On the other hand I haven’t seen anything that tells me any one of Tavernier, Sammy Ameobi, Ferguson, Campbell etc are in any position to play first team football yet.
Added to this, since last summer Newcastle have lost their best striker in Demba Ba who is showing again at Chelsea what a top player he is. In addition, we also know that first team squad member Ryan Taylor won’t be seen next season, while two others in Harper and Simpson have also been allowed to leave.
If our captain (and best defender) leaves as appears likely, then even just in terms of numbers the squad will have similar numbers to the position when the season kicked off last season.
On top of that, I would argue that even though the likes of Sissoko and Mapou look full of promise, at this moment in time you would have to question whether Newcastle would be better off going into a new season with the likes of Ba and Coloccini with Simpson & Raylor for back-up, rather than Sissoko, Gouffran, Mapou, Haidara and Debuchy?
I think they are all good players but we are desperately in need of further reinforcements.
Twelve months later I think we are again in a position of having a great nucleus of players and if that is built on then we could have a very good team.
If though Mike Ashley’s core message to Alan Pardew is that ‘you’ve already got your summer signings, just get on with it’, then it could be a real disaster next season.
The last 12 matches of the season saw Newcastle score twice on only one occasion and that was when two goals were gifted at QPR. If that doesn’t make Mike Ashley and Derek Llambias realise major changes are needed then we’d all better get our crash helmets on in time for next August.
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