That’s the way it feels with Newcastle United at the moment.
It’s knowing which narrative to buy into. Which way to interpret this most vital of transfer windows for Newcastle United Football Club. Everyone has a view, good or bad, panicked or calm.
Many fans on the wonderful invention that is social media seem split and I’ve seen some accuse the pages of this website (ED: All contributions from fans welcome to [email protected], negative or…positive) of being too negative.
There remains a good few weeks for the club to bring in some more players. The end of August will be the time when we can properly make the judgements on Mr Ashley and whether or not he’s reneged on promises.
Am I a bit worried? Yes. Would I have preferred all major club business to be done before the Spurs game? Absolutely.
They’ve spent £30m so far, as well as today’s loan deal for Mikel Merino. That’s fact. It is a substantial amount of money and yet it feels like it’s hardly touched the sides. Pardew always said it was a tough market and maybe this summer more than any other that’s correct, given the inflated prices being quoted by other clubs.
We’re all armchair ‘experts’ on football finance, so don’t take my word for it, but it would appear that promotion hasn’t meant an instant uplift of cash into the club’s coffers.
The revenue from TV deals comes through in stages. How many stages, I have no idea. The 100 odd million quid from the broadcasters is a series of staggered payments. The reality is we may have to ensure that we stay up come May 2018 in order to feel the full benefits.
Then there’s the issue of wages. Mr Ashley’s model of sustainability (some call it penny pinching) is one of a club that spends only from the revenue it generates. The budgeted outlay for new players will likely include the wages needed to pay these players. Mr Ashley pumped in £30m after the relegation he caused in 2016, but clearly there’s no more cash from his personal wealth being made available. He’s not going to do what Ellis Short did at Sunderland, something which has led to a fairly big mess down at that particular club.
All this may explain the slow pace of transfers so far. The club has to move players on to generate funds, and it has to move carefully, even with what is a fairly sizeable budget, but one that isn’t going to stretch that far in the current market.
The other worry is the lack of Premier League experience in there. The great John Gibson once called it the top notch beef on the hoof. We’re in need of a very good striker to add goals, as well as one for the left back slot.
This is where it’s tough to know what verdict to form. On the one hand, the likes of Florian Lejeune and Jacob Murphy are great prospects, but on the other side of the coin there is a worry they leave us light on English top flight experience.
What the club do have is a squad that boasts a shed load of team spirit. Unlike the previous years this group seems to genuinely care, they all appear to get on with each other, and they all seem well up for the battle ahead. That will be worth a hell of a lot in what promises to be a very hard season.
I’d love to know what Rafa has made of it so far. Hopefully his glass is half full. There have been murmurings that he’s a bit cheesed off and hasn’t got all of the players he has wanted.
In ten years under Mike Ashley it’s never been straightforward at that club. There’s been plenty of lets downs, false dawns and implosions.
Glass half full or half empty – there is still time to get a few more key positions filled. It’s critical that they do so, because credibility has slipped a bit since May.
The clock is ticking.
You can follow the author on Twitter @DavePunton
(All contributions from Newcastle fans welcome, send articles (as well as ideas/suggestions) to [email protected])