Following on from Mike Ashley’s eve of the end of the season address to the (Geordie) nation, we have seen Newcastle linked with credible Premier League signings such as Charlie Austin.
As well as Ashley’s words, we have seen journalists close to the club (and the rest of them) claiming that things have changed and United are serious about competing for players already proven in the Premier League.
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Whilst United picked up both Demba Ba and Jack Colback from other Premier League clubs, in both cases they were available on free (if you ignore the wages) deals.
The last Premier League regular that was bought by United was back in January 2009, Kevin Nolan arriving from Bolton.
So after six and a half years are we really going to see such a dramatic change of direction from the club owner?
I want to believe but I am constantly reminded of that Location, Location, Location programme, you know, the one my wife watches…
In the programme, the two presenters (Kirsty ad Phil) are set the task of finding a house in a particular area within a certain budget.
What happens every so often is that they get a couple who it is clear they aren’t going to be able to please.
Despite showing them any number of properties it is clear they won’t ever be able to find them the right place at the right place.
They show them a house in a nice area with three bedrooms and they say that it would be ideal if it had four bedrooms, but no use with only three. Then they are presented with a four bedroom house in a not so nice area and they say it would be perfect if only it was in the nice area. Problem is that if it was in the nice area then it would be fifty grand more….and so it goes on.
Basically, they are looking for something that doesn’t exist. A mad house seller who has decided to put their property up for sale for tens of thousands of pounds less than it is worth.
Which brings us to Mike Ashley.
Newcastle are linked with players such as Charlie Austin and Saido Berahino. Goalscorers, English and they have already shown they can do it in the Premier League.
Using the housing comparison, it/they are in a nice area, right number of bedrooms and a canny garden as well.
Trouble is, clubs like QPR and West Brom aren’t going to hand over their prize asset to the first chancer that comes along.
It is most definitely a seller’s market with the TV riches that are pouring into the Premier League, so they can afford to say thank you Mr Ashley for your generous offer but we’ll just see what Swansea, Southampton, Liverpool, whoever, are willing to pay.
The same scenario when it comes to wages; I can just see Charlie Austin’s agent taking the first offer he gets, not.
A figure of £10m as a valuation for Austin has regularly circulated but I can’t get my head around that. Only 3 players scored more goals last season in the Premier League and the were Augero and Costa, plus the only English striker to score more goals than the QPR man, Harry Kane.
Now I accept why Harry Kane at 21 may be valued at more than Charlie Austin who is 25, but considering that he scored his goals for the worst team in the league, I don’t think Austin is going to go for £10m when figures of £40m or so are flying about for the Spurs striker.
Last season wasn’t just a one-off either, in the previous three seasons in the Championship, Charlie Austin scored 59 goals in only 98 starts.
I can quite imagine Mike Ashley making an offer to the likes of Charlie Austin or Saido Berahino, but I find it very difficult to imagine it will be the best offer the player(s) will get, or even match other clubs.
Steve McClaren is said to have accepted a contact that is ‘heavily incentivised’, as in if United win a trophy then he will get X amount of money, with claims of £1m extra according to some newspapers.
That is all well and good when you are talking about an out of work manager who has just been sacked by a Championship club, but why would an in demand Premier League striker (or his club) accept anything less than what other are offering.
Whether it is Mike Ashley offering QPR £10m plus some magic beans whilst Swansea/Southampton are offering £15m+.
Or Newcastle offering £40,000 a week plus a trip to the moon if we win the Champions League, whilst Swansea/Southampton are offering £60,000+ a week.
Newcastle United have to offer the going rate if they are going to get proven Premier League players ‘over the line’.
I really hope Mike Ashley has had a reality check on what is essential for Newcastle United to prosper this coming season, but with each passing day of endless speculation my heart sinks a little further.