Close friends, the magic circle and Newcastle transfer targets
I have mentioned on several occasions what an optimistic bloke I am, I always take the rough with the smooth and try to look at the long-term rather than get het up by the short term.
This is mainly because I can’t be arsed with the details of the here and now, they’ll sort themselves out as long as you focus on the end goal. However, there are some things that grate on me and I need to get off my chest from time to time, so here we go, all trivial of course.
(To feature like Ben, send in your articles for our website to [email protected])
Firstly, Newcastle United have appointed a new manager, but there seems to be a great deal of confusion over who this actually is. If you take to twitter, as I do more than ever during the pre season, and search out the #nufc hashtag, you will find two distinct camps regarding the identity of our new leader and board member.
A lot of people were unhappy at the appointment of Steve McLaren, and I can wholeheartedly agree with that, the man knows nothing about football, he has, as far as I am aware, zero experience of taking so much as a junior training session, hell, I don’t know if he even likes football. Mind you, that is to be expected considering his background.
Born in Ontario, Canada, Steve McLaren played as an enforcer for the St Louis Blues Ice Hockey team. Retiring in 2005 he was considered to be one of the toughest players in AHL history, only briefly appearing in the NHL. As a fighter, I suppose he has all the credentials to take over from Messrs Pardew and Carver, but his footballing knowledge may leave something to be desired.
Another set of people have mixed feelings about the appointment of Steve McClaren, which is more reasonable I suppose, he has, after all been a football manager for many years and even took charge of the national team, as well as winning the Dutch Eridivisie with the unfancied FC Twente.
My point is, if you feel like taking to social media to complain about a managerial appointment or player signing (or lack thereof), it would require only a cursory glance at any newspaper, website or blog to check his name.
By misspelling the name of the person you are berating you are doing nothing other than to immediately negate anything you were trying to say, because anybody reading it will rightly assume that you don’t have the mental capacity to read a name and copy it down, let alone actually form a reasoned and valid opinion.
It also tarnishes the reputation of Toon fans in general, which is at a low ebb right now anyway, so stop punching the spelling horse. While I’m on it, it might be an idea to brush up on to, too, 2; there, their, they’re and your, you’re, yore (days of).
Onto point number two, and this is another twitter issue. Please, for the love of God, stop tweeting Charlie Austin.
One of the Newcastle transfer targets does not decide to join a club because a barrage of tweets showing him pictures of the Tyne Bridge show up on his timeline. I have seen a number of fans tweeting him, then in the same message criticising the club. Clap clap.
Seriously, if anything will scare off a footballer, it is needy fans begging him to sign. The goldfish bowl effect in full magnificity (that’s a real word). It’s OK if Alan Shearer does it, he’s Alan Shearer.
I know the allure of twitter is the ability to communicate directly with superstars, I get it, but wait until he signs for us and then welcome him, fine, tell him what he has signed up for, bridges galore! If anything, it would be better to say things like ‘London is only 3 hours away by train!’, ‘we have an international airport with regular flights to London!’ and ‘the lasses here wear next to nowt’, maybe ‘there are several Nandos’ and ‘we have less shootings than London!’.
By pleading with him you are making us look like pathetic, desperate mentalists, all of which are true, but we don’t want him to know that. Please stop.
While I’m on a twitter tip, I want to stick up for a friend.
There are a whole host of ITKs (that’s In The Knows) on twitter, most of whom, if not all of whom are actually IDKABIWTISONTs (I Don’t Know Anything But I Want To Impress Strangers On Twitters).
These people claim to have insider knowledge of transfers, in and out, through various channels, but in most cases they merely scour newspapers and other twitter accounts for things that have yet to be spotted.
Some have friends working for clubs who think they may have seen something, or spotted a ticket or hotel booking, which could bear fruit, but more than likely are fabrications. There are a very select few who have close contacts within a club, but the chances of those people risking their job to leak information is very slim.
Newcastle United have created a veil of secrecy matched only by FIFA and the magic circle, with only a handful of preferred media partners privy to any information whatsoever, and even then they seem to play with them a little bit.
Now, a close friend of mine, Sky Sports presenter Pete Graves, has come in for some stick on twitter for daring to suggest that transfers were imminent at Newcastle. This guy is a bona fide fan, as a kid he was never out of a toon top, he commentated on Newcastle United for years, lives up here despite working in London and is an entirely trustworthy bloke.
If he says he thinks transfers are on their way, it’s because he has received information suggesting there are, and because he is one of those very rare people who is close to the club and a preferred media partner. He doesn’t have to mention it, he could keep schtum, but as a fan himself he knows that any information he gets will be gratefully received by his peers, so he tweets it.
What I think a lot of people don’t realise is that transfers are not straightforward, there are no guarantees, a player can agree, a club can agree, then an agent can balls it up by making unreasonable demands; players can back out at the last minute because their Mrs finds out it gets cold in Newcastle; a last minute bid by Chelsea can turn a player’s head.
There are a plethora of reasons that a transfer seemingly cast in stone can be delayed or cancelled altogether, many of which I doubt we ever find out about. So Pete, who is handed a titbit, only for it to turn out to be a boob, is accused of lying, or being a charlatan by the very fans that he is trying to help (by telling them what he knows).
I’m sure he knows that people are frustrated, and I can’t speak for him, but if I were him I would simply stop sharing my information if all I received was abuse. We are all in this together people!
My final gripe is multifold (again, that is a real word).
The lack of signings thus far is worrying, it is troubling and it is downright scary, but keep in mind that it is early doors in July.
We have to learn, not accept, but learn that our club does things differently. I’m not suggesting that it is the right way to do it, far from it, but the way we operate is to try to get the best deal rather than the best player (at any cost).
So the Newcastle transfer targets will have been identified, probably long ago, and now the negotiations are in full swing.
It wouldn’t surprise me if there were a number of targets for each position, giving us some negotiation power, we are happy to walk away and go elsewhere if the selling club doesn’t accept our offer.
Obviously that is fine if there aren’t other suitors, but that is rarely the case, which ultimately results in us buying either players others don’t want, or those who represent more of a gamble (Ivan Toney being a case in point) because we simply don’t enter into bidding wars.
The exception could be Wijnaldum (pictured above), who seems to be a viable option, and I don’t think there is a Newcastle fan who wouldn’t like to see him at the club.
If we manage to ‘get him over the line’ it will represent a huge step forward for us in the transfer market, and single us out as a club on the up (at least in the eyes of the uninitiated), possibly leading to a few others deciding North might be the destination for them.
Of course, for that transfer to truly work, we need to keep hold of people like Moussa Sissoko, otherwise we are back to square one. So, I fully expect our first signing to be announced shortly, followed by a flurry of further signings (and departures) as the pieces start to fall together.
One thing that certainly won’t happen is that the club take a blind bit of notice of anything said on twitter.
There is a lot of frustration around, but don’t forget, we knew nowt of De Jong signing until practically the day he signed, the same with Perez and to an extent Sissoko et al, so I think we should hold our horses and see what happens, we might be pleasantly surprised (of course, we might not).
We have 7 weeks of the transfer window left, and while it would be better to get players in sooner rather than later, let’s see how it goes before kicking up a stink*.
Nobody likes a desperate cry baby.
*If nothing happens, kick away.
If you would like to feature on The Mag, submit your article to [email protected]