Are Newcastle United Once Again Doing It Right?
So, the new season is fast approaching and amidst a wildly entertaining transfer window it appears The Magpies are, once again, doing it right.
Gone are the days of the world’s most comically incompetent director of football, Joe Kinnear, along with his unpleasant case of incessant verbal diarrhoea. UK Radio show TalkSport has thankfully (and finally) begun rejecting Kinnear’s bizarre phone calls, safe in the knowledge that he is suitably content devouring his umpteenth Yohan Kebab (sorry) of the week.
Although the media’s recent silent treatment is something of a public service, one can only imagine the earache poor Mrs. Kinnear is now subject to at home; no doubt she spends her evenings trying to enjoy some vintage Countdown as Joe spews inaccuracies at the TV, claiming it was in fact he who originally proposed the show, way back in ’82. But, as the old adage goes, every cloud has a silver lining – even one as coarse as Joe Fackin’ Kinnear (JFK). Unexpectedly for Newcastle fans, however, that silver lining materialised within the shady confines of Mike Ashley’s psychotic Tyneside empire.
Emerging from Kinnear’s dusty career ruins akin to Hugo Weaving in V for Vendetta, bespectacled phantom Lee Charnley has ghosted about United’s transfer business in an understated, yet largely satisfactory fashion. Elevating Charnley’s new found likeability further is the simple fact that he, in Kinnear’s wake, has decided to keep his lips tightly pursed. And – take note here, Joe – actually done some bloody work.
Don’t be fooled that everything at St. James’ Park is rosy, though. The sale of Yohan Cabaye is still fresh in the minds (and aching hearts) of the shirt-shy middle-aged Geordies who refer to him so adoringly, so oddly, as ‘The Dreamboat’. Another to follow in Cabaye’s path out the exit door was his best pal and The Toon’s player of the season, Mathieu Debuchy. Fortunately, this double Gallic blow has been greatly softened by the arrival of some well thought out acquisitions, and Kudos here once again to football’s own super-sleuth and NUFC chief scout, Graeme Carr.
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Though not a like-for-like replacement of The Dreamboat, the acquisition of playmaker Siem de Jong early in the window was a real statement of intent from The Magpies. Luuk de Jong, a colossal man afraid of his own shadow during his spell on Tyneside, at least had the common decency to commend the club to his infinitely more watchable brother. While Siem resembles a man who grew up basking in the glow of Total Football, sibling Luuk strikes the ball like a ghost with rickets. I like to imagine the pair as John Steinbeck’s George and Lenny; Luuk the well-natured giant unaware of his own strength, being led by Siem, the intelligent marksman (George), who is far more adaptable to the English game.
The exciting addition of Remy Cabella must also be accredited to Carr, who has been monitoring him for well over a year now. Though unable to secure the mercurial winger in January, the Newcastle board bided their time and landed the former Montpellier man for £12m – albeit against the will of the Montpellier club president. With 14 goals and many assists in Ligue 1 last season, the French international could yet prove to be a real coup.
Improving The Magpies heavily depleted forward line, which consisted solely of injured Papiss Cisse just a month ago, are new boys Emanuelle Riviere and Facundo Ferreyra. While Riviere is a quick and powerful striker, Ferreyra stands over six foot tall and is an imposing figure. If both start firing and Cisse returns to form, Newcastle could be in for an exciting season.
Finally, in addition to good squad acquisitions Jack Colback and Ayoze Perez, United managed to fend off strong competition for Netherlands World Cup star, Daryl Janmaat. The attack-minded right-back impressed in Brazil and comes to Newcastle from Feyenoord with a good pedigree. After selling Mathieu Debuchy to Arsenal for a reported £11m and paying out £7m for the younger Janmaat, it has to be said that this looks like shrewd business. Well done Mr. Charnley.
If a good portion of these signings live up to expectation and stay injury-free, Newcastle could well be challenging for the top six and Europe once again. Unless, of course, like Tottenham last season the players simply don’t gel.
Though let’s not think about that for now, eh?
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