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Louis van Gaal points to potentially fatal flaw in Newcastle’s transfer strategy

6 years ago

When an email went out last week under the name of Managing Director Lee Charnley, it understandably proved a big talking point.

Obviously, the fact that there had been the latest email from the club was news in itself, but what got all the headlines was the fact that it stated that over £50m had been spent in the summer transfer window and that the intention was to do more of the same.

Alongside those headline makers, to a lesser extent it was also picked up by fans/media that the club were making a vague apology of sorts for what had gone before and which had caused a divide between club/Ashley and fans.

Sometimes though the devil is in the detail, as any good/bad lawyer will tell you.

With a club who were almost relegated on the final day of last season, naturally the fact that belated investment was being made in the team/squad was a massive relief.

What though is the strategy behind what Newcastle are trying to do in the transfer market?

This part of Lee Charnley’s email hasn’t really been discussed anywhere, from what I’ve seen:

“Our strategy is clear, quality over quantity… We want the best young players available to us.

“We have brought in high-calibre players that will make an immediate impact.”

Quality over quantity is good to hear, rather than buying job lots of the likes of Gouffran, Riviere, Lascelles and so on.

Best young players is old news, we know that if Newcastle are linked with anybody who has got a few miles on the clock then we can safely ignore that speculation.

High-calibre players – well that remains to be seen but certainly Wijnaldum has already achieved with club and country, whilst the other three definitly have the potential to be that.

‘…that will make an immediate impact’, hmmm, I think this is where I’ve stopped nodding my head.

Newcastle United bought a 19 year old, two 20 year olds, one 22 year old and Wijnaldum who was 24 when signed.

This is where the club are taking a massive risk, buying 20 and 22 year old players from weaker foreign leagues and relying on them to make an immediate impact, no matter how much they cost this is a serious gamble.

Just look at what Manchester United boss Louis van  Gaal has had to say after splashing out an initial £36m (which could rise as high as £66m if he hits certain targets, including finishing top three in ballon d’or) on Anthony Martial:

“Anthony is a naturally talented, young, multi-functional forward with great potential.

“He has all the attributes to become a top football player; however we need to give him time to adjust to his new environment and the rhythm of the Premier League.”

How can you state that such young players as Newcastle have signed will make an ‘immediate impact’?

As Louis van Gaal says, young foreign players, indeed any young and/or foreign players, need time to get used to the demands of the Premier League.

Already we have seen Aleksandar Mitrovic is seriously struggling to understand what he needs to do to repay Newcastle’s faith in him.

Florian Thauvin could prove an excellent buy but unlike Anthony Martial, he has never been selected by France at senior level. That doesn’t make him a poor player but it does back up the reality that we haven’t bought the finished article or the very very top players from France or anywhere else.

The exception to that is possibly Georginio Wijnaldum and it is maybe no surprise he has looked the most promising so far of the signings, with more maturity and achievements already for club and country. Though even with him I get the feeling that he is a team player who gets on the end of things and relies on his teammates for service, rather than a player who is going to do it all himself.

Arguably, Newcastle have bought the best young/inexperienced players with the budget that Mike Ashley agreed to, but that is what they are, young and inexperienced from other countries.

Personally, I think it is ridiculous to put such public expectations on these young players. Particularly when as yet, Newcastle have failed to win any of their first four Premier League matches – yes there have been glimpses from the team overall and the new signings individually, but it is all still very much at the ‘potentially’ United can do better this season.

We have seen some great signings from overseas down the years, such as Ginola, Albert and Robert,  but equally we have seen it go the other way with Luque, Cabella, Goma, Marcelino, Riviere and so on.

Yes we all want to believe that the alleged plan will work, where over a number of transfer windows Newcastle will build a team who can compete.

However, at times I think it all smacks of Football Manager or whatever, picking players and assuming everything will go smoothly, without including the reality of factors that could go pear-shaped.

To have such a rigid system where you rule out ANY signings that don’t fit the simple strategy of best young foreign players, means that you handicap yourself by not being able to bring in the odd player who might be a bit older, or who might cost a bit more in the short-term.

Sometimes to get from A-Z you have to make a few detours on the way.

I don’t expect Newcastle’s summer signings to make an immediate impact but I most definitely hope they do.

The reality being that if they don’t make that instant difference this season, then what we are left with is a relegation fighting side that concedes goals and struggles to score them.

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