The euphoria has given way to a few nerves and I’m willing to bet I’m not alone in worrying, that the Newcastle United summer rebuild has a slight question mark hanging over it.
I’ll be told not to fret. I get that. I’m aware that last summer after relegation the influx of players didn’t really kick off until early July. There remains time to get the six or seven quality players needed to make a good fist of this Premier League return.
The club will hopefully go out and lay all this nonsense to rest. The players are back for the start of pre-season on July 3, I suspect they’ll be hoping to welcome some new teammates too.
The next three weeks are critical. We’ll soon know how things are going to play out over the summer trading period. The transfer window officially opens on July 1. It’s pretty simple really – nobody comes in and there’ll be hell on. Sensible investment and we can all look forward to the season with a bit hope.
My nerves stem from the sheer volume of names being linked, maybe more so than any other summer. Every day there is a new player in the frame, some reports try to outdo each other by opting for ‘advanced talks’ or ‘keen on the move’. So many players have been mentioned since mid-May that I’ve forgotten some of the ones who were supposedly on the list from the previous few days, let alone eight weeks ago. Nothing, as of yet, is concrete.
The other concern has emerged from the fact we appear to have missed some targets and the age old issue of haggling over fees seems to be back with a bang. Lee Charnley’s negotiating skills under the microscope. Again, I hope this isn’t the case.
The manager, it is claimed, is ‘frustrated’ with the lack of progress. I get that, too. Me and him both. A national newspaper went as far to say that he’ll quit over this alleged malaise. This was shot down by local news outlets. The prospect of Benitez leaving is too bleak to even explore at this stage but it would definitely wreck the fragile resurrection of our football club.
What say is the manager really having on recruitment if he’s peeved that progress is slow? That leads to the conclusion that he isn’t managing these deals, despite the fact he has won an apparent power struggle with the chief scout Graham Carr.
There has been another change behind the scenes too. The club’s Managing Director is apparently answering to a senior troubleshooter from Sports Direct, a fella called Justin Barnes.
Has this had an impact on the progress made? Is this individual a stooge, carefully positioned to veto any spending that exceeds the owner’s parameters? Or is he just there to broker a possible takeover?
Then there is the claim of this apparent fresh investment, from China or the US. Is it real or is this another cynical ploy by Ashley to put the brakes on the budget he reportedly promised to Benitez back in May?
The takeover claims of previous years always had the feel of a ruse that allowed the owner to sidestep significant investment.
There are plenty of questions there. Many we simply won’t get the answers to until the transfer window shuts at the end of August.
We can only hope the right plans for next season are in place and that the owner hasn’t reverted to his old habit of pulling the rug from under his manager, with the Watfords and Bournemouths of this world showing us up.
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