I think everyone, including myself, expected a different transfer window to the one that we are having with regard to Newcastle United.
I wasn’t one of those that expected £30m+ marquee signings on a weekly basis, I was more in the £70m grand total region.
My expectations were seasoned PL players. Lads that would bring top flight experience to complement our current squads. The likes of Shelvey, Elliot, Dummett, Ritchie and Gayle have experience. They know what it takes to win, they know how it feels to lose and try to rectify it.
Unfortunately, as I write this, we don’t have any of the signings that I was expecting. I do still believe that they will come – but I also have resigned myself to accepting that my expectations may have been slightly higher than they should have been.
The question that everyone is now asking, is ‘why have the signings not been made?’.
I think there are a few possible answers to that, all of which have been given as opinion by many of you over the last few weeks. Looking at all the evidence, listening to what people have to say, I think it is clear that nobody really knows the full truth, but, if we look at the most common opinions and try to analyse them – which ones make any sort of sense and which ones should be discounted:
Mike Ashley refusing to release funds:
I don’t think this is the case. I know a lot of you have serious reservations towards Ashley and his running of the club, but, Ashley will know that the only way to secure his investment, and reap the benefits of the Sky TV money is to invest.
Rafa will have approached him and, in Rafa style detail, explained the playing team’s deficiencies. Rafa will know what we need to first, remain in the league, and secondly, compete. A lot of people seem to be under some sort of grand illusion that we should be aiming top ten this coming season. That is so unrealistic it beggars belief.
We are coming back into the PL having spent a season in the Championship, in which it was made perfectly clear that the squad we had was built for one purpose, and one purpose only; promotion. It will take some time, and certainly not just this transfer window, to amend the squad’s purpose. We need to consolidate and build from there. Ashley knows this, Rafa knows this, and all parties will undoubtedly understand that it will require investment. Unfortunately, it looks like we have hit a snag, which leads me to;
We are not capable of competing in the transfer market financially:
Well we know that we have funds. I mean bare minimum we have the profits from the Sissoko and Wijnaldum sales. Then we have the new sponsorship money, TV money from last season, season ticket sales and a new injection of cash from the new strips (Which are fantastic in my opinion). I don’t think it is a question of having the money to be able to actually buy players – but more to do with only wanting to spend on the right players.
Before the summer window opened, Sigurdsson’s name was thrown around a lot as the perfect number 10. We valued him at £20m, or at least around that mark in May. Then, yesterday, Swansea said he is for sale, if someone is willing to pay £50m. He’s a good player but £50m? I wouldn’t blame anyone at the club for ripping up any purchase orders (not that there was one, just using it as an example) they had lying on the desk. I know it’s easy to say that because of the size of the club, its stadium and history we should be able to not only compete with the likes of Swansea, Stoke, WBA on a financial front, but outspend them consistently, but alas, money from 20, 30, 40 years ago is long gone. We can only play with what we currently have in the bank, or are able to loan.
Due to many past mistakes, that we all know of and I won’t go into now, we didn’t receive the minimum of £100m in PL money last year. So we are already at a disadvantage. The transfer market has grossly inflated this summer. What £20m would have bought you last summer, you would need to add at least another £10m this one. We need the right players, but, due to finances, they have to be affordable. I haven’t even touched on the signing on fees, agent’s fees and wages that are expected.
Provided we survive this season, which I expect we will (Even without any further investment I think we would have a chance of staying up. It wouldn’t be pretty, or fun, but I think we could just about manage it), the next summer window we find ourselves in, will be a lot more enjoyable. The activity so far in this window, in my opinion has more to do with economics than incompetence.
NUFC no longer has the appeal it used to:
Again, I won’t go into it, but we have had an awful decade. Two relegations, front page scandals, tribunals and questions asked over taxes, to name but a few. Then factor in the geographical location of our fine city and it’s not hard to see why players are often reluctant to head past the Angel of the North. It is difficult for us to understand because we know what a fantastic city Newcastle is. We know that the surrounding boroughs and towns are great as well, but for those people not fortunate enough to hail from the north east, it is often seen as too far away from the special places. London, Liverpool, Manchester; these are places held in much higher regard than our fair city, unless of course a stag or hen-do is being planned. I think sadly, this is definitely a contributing factor.
Charnley incapable of ‘getting it over the line’:
It certainly is not his bread and butter. I personally think he is one of Ashley’s largest failings during his tenure. Pardew, Carver, Kinnear, McClaren. Any decent MD would have pulled Ashley to the side and told him to pull the plug on those clowns long before they were eventually shown the door. I do believe that Charnley’s inexperience will have an effect on transfer dealings. To what extent, nobody knows.
At no point has a player came out and declared that he didn’t sign for NUFC because the MD was a plonker, and I’m not expecting anyone to, however it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if behind closed doors that is the general opinion. He is however capable of getting deals done. He may not be great at it, although we don’t have any real evidence to justify that assumption, but he has done it in the past, and will do so again. I hope that his lack of business acumen doesn’t influence things too much. I reserve total judgement until the end of the window.
Overall, I think it is obvious that something is not quite right this summer. Is it the fault of an individual, or circumstance? I personally don’t think it is possible to determine what the real root cause is. All I can say at this point, is I firmly believe that we will recruit, and I believe those recruits will improve the playing squad. I believe we are about to embark on a very long, tough season.
A season where there will be more lows than highs, but ultimately, the highs we have will be enough to keep us there for another year. Then with the injection of the Sky money, we will be able to kick on.
I think everyone needs to accept, just like I reluctantly have, that our expectations, in the short-term, need to be tempered, they need to be realistic. Take top 10 out of your heads for a season.
One specific individual that regularly comments on The Mag, states that Ashley is only bothered about mid-table obscurity. I don’t think that would be a terribly bad target this year.
(All contributions from Newcastle fans welcome, send articles (as well as ideas/suggestions) to [email protected])