Is everyone enjoying the sunshine?
How’s everyone’s holidays going?
World Cup entertaining enough, aren’t England looking good?
In the meantime, Newcastle United signings – ‘Yey, we have finally made progress in signing our first player of the summer’, rejoice and shout it from the rooftops. Ok, it’s the second if you count Martin Dubravka, but in Ki Sung-Yueng, we’ve seen progress at last in bringing in the midfielder, which now seems to be a direct swap for the outgoing Mikel Merino.
Negativity did I hear you say? Well, yes and no in equal measure for me. On one hand we have an older head with Premier League experience, who has played with current player Jonjo Shelvey and who the manager wants, if you believe the positive quotes attributed to him. This is a marked change from the club’s oft exercised policy of buying young for cheap, with a view to sell for a big profit. This is most welcome as it doesn’t always work and you can’t buy on the cheap the experience that some players have.
On the negative, we have a player who has experience of relegation dogfights, some successful, some not so. Another so-called negative, one which fans won’t, quite rightly let go, is that of the finances behind the deal.
It’s another example of the regime at the club selling a player for top dollar (Merino) and bringing one in for nowt, minus wages and agents fees. However, in this case I don’t see it as a problem, if the manager wants this player and if he’s good enough and certainly if the money saved on replacing the outgoing Merino is added to any pot for a left winger and a striker, it looks a good exchange all round. That’s the crux of the matter and only time will tell given the history of tightness from the owner.
This is certainly not Ki Sung-Yueng’s fault and I hope the lad does well, it’s not his problem that he walks into the political quagmire that Ashley has festered for the last decade.
When the club went out and signed Jack Colback for nowt in 2014, it was a replacement for the departed Yohan Cabaye, not bad business exchanging a product for £20m and getting one in for free- if it works. Sadly, the exchange proved to be awful and we still can’t seem to shift Colback due to astronomical wages for a dodgy Championship quality player at best.
Back in 2011, selling Andy Carroll and replacing him with Shefki Kuqi was another case of making a huge profit at the expense of actual quality, that deal only came good when the club subsequently signed Demba Ba (once again a freebie) and the club’s fortunes improved. You can’t get away with it very often, as numerous relegation struggles have proved.
Sadly, this seems to be a trait the regime at this club has mixed to poor results on over the last ten years and one that fans won’t forget in a hurry. We need quality in the right areas (left wing and centre forward) and certainly the rumours of the club being linked with Andros Townsend are welcome as he is a class up on what we have and he can play both flanks which would add some great versatility, and for the reported £18m? He would be a great buy. I don’t buy too much into the so-called ‘disloyalty’ as many players would jump ship at any club, if relegation was suddenly thrust upon them.
As an aside, I would be dead set against the rumoured sale of Matt Ritchie to fund any purchases. We need strength in-depth and losing his work rate in the side would be a backward step, plus the old adage is that you can’t have too many quality players and options to call upon. He is a top professional, with a clean lifestyle and works like a Duracell bunny, he can’t be allowed to leave for business/funding reasons.
I would also be adamant that Kenedy is brought back to St James Park to continue the great work he did last season. Put simply, he lit up the pitch in a way that I can’t remember a player doing for many a season. He transformed the side when he came in and to be honest, should be made the next priority signing. Just imagine if we had Diame, Sung-Yung, Ritchie, Kenedy, Shelvey and Townsend to call upon from midfield.
This may be a contentious one among fans as the need for a striker is clear, but I would argue that the retention of Ritchie (and Captain fantastic Lascelles) is paramount over a striker, as if the quality of the midfield (and defence) is retained and where possible improved upon, the goals will come. Even an average striker will get goals if the service is right and consistent.
I believe that Rafa will be thinking the same sort of thing, that he would want to keep his best players and ADD quality, rather than take any away. That means the funds given to the manager need to be the highest possible to get the sufficient quality aboard and give us a good chance of having a cracking season.
We have a good and likeable side with nobody rocking the boat, which is all down to the manager, he won’t bring in people of bad character that’s for sure, it just needs that something extra to make it a GREAT side. Rafa Benitez knows this, so over to the owner. That’s where I have concerns…