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The one moment in time when Mike Ashley showed ambition at Newcastle United

5 years ago

Sky Sports are already promoting their deadline day show, Monday seeing the end of the circus that is the January transfer window.

Newcastle United are clearly back in close cahoots with the satellite broadcaster, (proper!) transfer stories handed to Sky Sports first, with the timing of the completed deals appearing to fit in nicely with their schedules…

The relationship of Newcastle fans with the January transfer windows has been a fractious one over the years…

2011 – Andy Carroll sold

2012 – Papiss Cisse arrives

2013 – Demba Ba sold and the five French players arrive, including three full internationals

2014 – Yohab Cabaye sold

2015 – Ben Arfa released, Mapou sold, Santon leaves on loan

2016 – Townsend, Shelvey and Saivet arrive

The club message was reaffirmed by Lee Charnley not that long ago, the Managing Director declaring that Newcastle United (Mike Ashley) see no value in the January transfer window.

So little wonder that it is usually seen as a time to sell players and extract the maximum transfer fee out of other clubs, rather than Newcastle speculating.

The two big exceptions are obviously the 2013 January transfer window and the 2016 one, five and three (so far) arriving to try and save the club from relegation. When you consider that the 2012/2013 relegation strugglers contained all the stars (until Ba left midway) who had achieved fifth place the previous season, you maybe wonder whether this time it will be an even bigger task, with this group of players only surviving on the final day of last season.

The only January that saw significant transfer spending under Mike Ashley when relegation wasn’t knocking, is the transfer window of 2012. A little known (to Newcastle fans) Papiss Cisse arriving for £10m.

At that point in January 2012, Newcastle were sixth and level on points with Arsenal in fifth, four points off the top four. By the time Papiss Cisse finished Cup of African Nations duty (two Premier League matches later), Newcastle were fifth and only three points behind fourth place Chelsea.

Leon Best picked up an injury and Papiss Cisse was making his debut only 13 minutes into a home game with Aston Villa.

Then with the scores at 1-1 with 77 minutes on the clock we saw Papiss Cisse strike a beautiful goal from outside the box and the stage was set, Newcastle won and the Senegal striker went on to score 13 goals in only 14 Premier League appearances that season, pretty much every single one of them a stunner.

Those three or four months from Papiss Cisse signing were easily the best under Mike Ashley; an ambitious January signing, some great football, cracking goals and maybe a little unlucky not to sneak into the Champions League placings.

The mood was excellent and fans were full of hope for what was to follow, only for a baffling failure to build on that relative success in summer 2012 (only Vurnon Anita brought in) leading us eventually to where we are today.

Newcastle have been linked with plenty of strikers these past few weeks but all three arrivals play across the middle of the pitch, not at the sharp end. Just how much would we give for a Papiss Cisse (2012 vintage) in these next few months?

Papiss Cisse’s goals helped deliver fifth place – can Mike Ashley really gamble on not buying in the goals a proven striker would/could give his relegation strugglers?


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