So now it comes down to the final 48 hours or so of the summer transfer window and I have to say, it has been another example of the club not maximising its potential.
A progression from the tightfistedness of Mike Ashley hasn’t materialised (did we expect anything different?) and we are left with a side that is decent, but nowhere near as good as it could have been. Plus in a climate at the club that is far from ideal and typical of the chaos that has surrounded Newcastle United since 2008.
Overall, I’m not heartened by the summer buys/sales and not disappointed either. We are roughly where I expected us to be. That’s where constant lack of ambition gets you. It’s best not to expect it, then you won’t be disappointed.
Provided a helicopter doesn’t land on either Matt Ritchie, Jonjo Shelvey or Jamaal Lascelles’ lawn between now and Thursday, I’ll take it as positive, despite the current fact that the owner is once again overseeing a profit and not even touching the TV money. Where’s that gone by the way?
On the subject of transfers alone , Martin Dubravka and Kenedy have been retained, good news on the former being bought outright but not so good on only managing to get the latter on loan, eventually Kenedy (or replacement) will have to be purchased and surely prices will only escalate, so I can’t see the logic there.
Ki Sung-yueng will I’m sure be a decent squad man and a direct replacement for the now thankfully departed Jack Colback. Chancel Mbemba has been ousted due to a lack of communication skills and a healthy £7m fee banked with Schar coming in for £3m.
It’s further forward where I have my reservations.
Mikel Merino has gone for a nice £10m and Aleksandar Mitrovic has exited for a nice looking £22m-£27m, however, once the breakdown into instalments takes place, it will be more like £5m that manager Rafa Benitez will initially see and not that progression that I would have liked to see.
I know why the club does this, it’s to show that it is in the black, run effectively and profitable (* See below) but it doesn’t help the squad here and now. Let’s hope Muto can make his £10m fee look a bargain.
The next exchange of players is a head scratcher. I can’t see where the improvement is in swapping Dwight Gayle (and £2m) for Salomon Rondon. Neither are prolific at the top level and it certainly would have been better to keep a player who is already integrated with the club than bring in the lad from West Brom. I also think that given a full season of good service, Gayle could outscore Rondon. West Brom have got the better deal there, with an obviously great Championship player going in their direction.
The ongoing stand-off between the players and Mike Ashley, echoes the one that is currently going on between owner and manager over an unsigned contract. Mike does like holding all the power doesn’t he? Sadly, it’s more evidence of the chaos that he has presided over during the last ten years.
*If there is one silver lining to be had here, it’s that I don’t believe we will be relegated (phew!) and I think we will probably finish in roughly the same position as last season, injuries not withstanding. This again doesn’t bode well for progression, especially when other clubs will be buying and HAVE bought players for way above what we have paid so far.
I also hope that the one scenario that is still to be played out, is the sale of the club.
I’ll ask the question, would supporters put up with another season of austerity and risk to Premier League survival, if the cause of the problem, takes the money and buggers off in May 2019?
Even if he took the TV money and rode off into the sunset, if he goes I’d take that as a positive and a chance to start afresh.
Some say it’s a smokescreen and it’s not in Ashley’s mind to sell up, they may well have a point. But what I will say is that by next summer it’s going to be harder to compete money-wise and he may decide that enough’s enough and the cash cow has been milked for as much as it can be.
On the other hand, the other could be true and he may stick it out to twist the knife into us supporters for a few more years yet. Let’s hope it’s the former.
HTL and bring on Saturday.