The latest NUFC fans forum meeting took place on Wednesday 21 October and the minutes were made public nine days later, on Friday just gone.
There were two Questions and Answers that stood out for me in the Fans Forum minutes:
The first question & reply:
“The current ‘hot issue’ for the vast majority of fans is the transfer policy. Undoubtedly, this is directly related to the poor start to the season. It has been widely reported in the media that the current policy may be under review, and this has further heightened the level of interest in this key issue.”
‘While accepting the start to the league season had been disappointing, the club underlined its commitment to the transfer policy that had been outlined to supporters in the email on 2nd September.
This focuses on buying players whose careers are “on the way up”, rather than buying players who are nearing the end of their careers. The club believes that this is in its best interests and will help it to achieve its goals in the medium to long term.
The club stated that its aim was to secure players who could improve individually and collectively, rather than focussing on potential sell-on value. The club turned down substantial offers in the summer 2015 window because it has no need or desire to sell its best players.’
I would ask Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley to define ‘end of their careers’.
For example, a 28 year old centre-back is not ‘nearing the end his career’. In some cases he would be in the prime of his career. If such a player was not only able to perform at the top of his game for the next 3, 4 years, but also able offer vital leadership and improve his team-mates, then would the club be looking to sign this player? ‘On the way up’ potentially sounds like the club would not be looking to sign such a player, which defies logic.
As I mentioned before in a previous article, there is a middle ground between buying under-performing, declining players and buying strictly younger players who are exclusively below a certain age.
If the club did knock back bids in the summer for players then fair enough, good – but this is something which must be done over time, allowing the team to build and grow.
The second question/reply:
“Could the club complement the new players with players who have Premier League experience? They could benefit some of the younger ones, especially in weaker areas of the squad.”
The club’s policy on recruitment remains unchanged however, as previously stated, it may consider exceptions in specific circumstances.
The answer to this question, while not 100% clear, seems to imply that the recruitment policy does indeed exclude experienced Premier League players, even regardless of age. Which begs another, very simple, question: Why?
Why would a football club not be looking at experienced Premier League players who would potentially improve the team? If the answer is ‘over-priced’ then the club do not understand the worth of such experience, if the right player is attainable.
The club also state they would consider “exceptions” in “specific circumstances”, but what are these seemingly crazy circumstances in which they would consider signing an experienced Premier League player?
The circumstances right now are that the team are bedding in four (mostly young) new players from abroad into a squad lacking leadership and at times in-game nous and a team which also finds itself very much at the wrong end of the league. Would these not be the appropriate circumstances in which the club are prompted to look at signing experienced Premier League players?
This is not a doom and gloom article as I do think there have been some positive signs on the pitch, performances are improving and the players signed in the summer look talented (yes I’d give Thauvin more time to adapt).
I also appreciate anything is easier said than done and it’s not a case of waving a magic wand (once again it’s about a common sense, middle ground).
But ambition should not be undermined by a seemingly definitive age limit placed on transfers, or a refusal to pay for Premier League experience, as both policies do not recognise the importance of leadership qualities in a player and also do nothing to aid the development of the younger players at the club as a result.
Steve McClaren came to the club as a member of the board so he cannot complain about the squad lacking certain ingredients as transfer windows go by.
As an experienced football man, who I trust has genuine ambition to push the club forward over time, he must live or die by the signings the club make; to complain about them later down the line and grumble he can only work with what he’s got would make a mockery of his ‘board member’ title.
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