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Turning the tide or plugging gaps?

5 years ago

I’ll admit my surprise, recent history told me that all the big money player links this summer transfer window would come to nothing.

That a game of smoke and mirrors was being played, before more average and unheralded foreign ‘talent’ was drafted in, with the hope of shoring up the team enough to avoid relegation for another year and reap the TV contract money.

I’ll admit my surprise that we have signed a top quality international midfield player for a huge amount of money, and are seemingly on the verge of bringing in a much sought after hot prospect striker for a similar amount, I didn’t see this happening if I’m honest.

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If reports are to be believed, these two players will soon be joined by Chancel Mbemba and others are still being looked at, on the surface of things it looks like there has been a realisation which has brought forth a change of policy at the club. But I’m the kind of guy who always looks for the catch and where Mike Ashley is concerned there is always a catch.

It is worth mentioning again that the club had £34m in its accounts at the end of last season, it is also worth remembering that the club has just received a record payment for Premier League TV rights. Newcastle have not changed policy, they are simply (in purely financial outlay terms) doing what they have been capable of doing for quite some time, but has it really been done because the owner had a relegation scare and has seen the fans in revolt? I doubt it.

What do the signings of Wijnaldum and Mitrovic have in common? Well, they are both ambitious and, at first glance, exactly the kind of players the club should be bringing in, but what worries me is what motivates these signings.

The priority when bringing a player to a football club should surely be bringing in the right player to improve the first team for at least the duration of their contract, getting long-term value from your new asset. I don’t believe that this is the motivation with these signings, I firmly believe that these are players bought in with the sole aim of returning a large profit in the short-term.

Think about it, who is the surer bet of improving our goal scoring fortunes in the Premier League, Mitrovic or Austin?

The youngster from a weak European league or the English player with an 18 goal return from a single Premier League season? It’s clearly Austin, so why has Mitrovic been pursued so hard but QPR have not even had a bid from us for Austin?

Because the resale value of Austin in a couple of seasons time at the ripe old age of 28, would be well below the resale value of Mitrovic at 22. I’m not saying that Mitrovic is not going to work out well, I’m not saying that Austin is a better player, I’m not even saying that there is anything wrong with looking for a profit on your assets, what I am saying is that it should definitely not be the primary motivation in signing a player.

Building a team, with spirit and trust, cannot be done when everyone knows that certain players are only calling in to visit on their way to Chelsea or Man City, it is a recipe for footballing mediocrity at best but ideal for financial success, just as everything has been geared towards under the stewardship of Mike Ashley.

I have seen people quoting examples of other players whose stay with Newcastle was only relatively short, in some attempt to justify this kind of signing, they have mentioned Robert, Bellamy, Ferdinand, Ginola and Hamman whilst conveniently ignoring Shearer, Solano, Speed, Lee and Given, all of whom could have moved on for much bigger wages and chances of winning trophies well before they did eventually depart.

All this demonstrates is that the team needs secure, long-term building blocks in the mould of Shearer and Speed, quality players who lead the club, the long-term building blocks cannot be characters such as Obertan, Tiote or even Coloccini. Stability is key, active discouragement of stability as a company policy is ridiculous.

As I wrote this I thought to myself ‘shouldn’t I be happy that the club is paying good money for good players?’ and yes, we should all be if the motivation was to improve the football club rather than the balance sheet.

Once again the issue is trust and after eight years of being lied to, I have no trust for anything the football club does.


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