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Lee Charnley comments on 2019 summer signings – Do they convince 3 months on?

8 months ago
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After Mike Ashley, Lee Charnley is the public face of Newcastle United.

What a pair.

As Newcastle United’s only director and only person in a (publicly acknowledged) senior management position, there isn’t exactly a lot of choice when it comes to somebody representing the football club, aside from of course whoever happens to be the manager/head coach at any particular time.

Not that Mike Ashley allows Lee Charnley to speak very often.

Usually it is only prepared quotes with Charnley’s name attached that are released to the media.

However, when the latest NUFC accounts (for the 2017/18 season) were released in April, Lee Charnley was put up by Mike Ashley to speak to selected invited members of the media.

Interesting now to review what he said as things stand just over three months later, especially with regard to transfer policy and upcoming summer signings, only 17 days until the transfer window closes…

Lee Charnley speaking to selected invited members of the media – 18 April 2019:

“We all want to see the club improve and be competitive at every level, and in every competition.

“We are convinced that the best route to achieving this is to do so sustainably, spending on young development players and adding high quality to the first team squad each season – players that can really make a difference and improve the team – without risking the financial health and stability of the club.

“We strongly believe that consistently doing the above, and robustly following this policy, will give us the best possible chance of achieving our shared ambitions.

“Spreading the budget over a larger number of permanent signings will undoubtedly impact on the quality of player we are able to bring in.

“We will also look to ring-fence a specific additional budget to spend on young development players that have the potential to be part of the first team in the future.

“The idea that we turn up every year just hoping to survive just isn’t correct.

“We want to improve but do so sustainably.

“We want to be competitive at every level and in every competition.”

The Mag – 21 April 2019:

Lee Charnley asked by the Chronicle about whether Salomon Rondon will still be at Newcastle United next season:

“Firstly, he’s not our player.

“So he will go back to West Brom and both he and his club will then decide on his future.

“Having said that, we haven’t ruled out trying to sign him but any deal would have to suit all parties.”

Lee Charnley – 17 July 2019:

“The hard work for Steve and his team starts immediately and we will be fully prepared for the challenge of a new Premier League season.

I think there are a lot of interesting messages to take out of the above, with maybe the comment on not having ‘ruled out trying to sign’ Salomon Rondon the easiest to deal with, I have zero belief that there was any intention whatsoever from Mike Ashley (and by association, Lee Charnley) to sign last season’s player of the year and most productive player (11 goals and 7 assists).

As for that last quote above, five days ago when Steve Bruce was appointed, Lee Charnley claiming ‘…and we will be fully prepared for the challenge of a new Premier League season’, if he honestly believes that then he needs urgent medical help.

Back though to that main body of comments when the accounts were released.

Ashley’s mate claiming ‘The idea that we turn up every year just hoping to survive just isn’t correct. We want to be competitive at every level and in every competition.’ The thing is though that these are only words and is there still anybody who believes any of this?

Lee Charnley stated: ‘We will also look to ring-fence a specific additional budget to spend on young development players that have the potential to be part of the first team in the future.’ How on earth does that tie in with not having signed a single player this summer???

One comment really stands out for me though: ‘Spreading the budget over a larger number of permanent signings will undoubtedly impact on the quality of player we are able to bring in.’

I think that there is some serious self-delusion going on, I believe Mike Ashley has got it into his head that Newcastle United are now safely secured and stable back in the Premier League and that there is a relatively high level squad that just needs the odd tweak here and there. The likes of lackeys such as Lee Charnley aren’t going to challenge that view even if they know/believe otherwise.

Newcastle fans see the need for quality AND quantity to be added this summer, not just one or two potential higher level signings.

There is no strength in depth in this squad and these past two seasons of eventual comfortable survival came on the back of Rafa’s talent/experience, a small number of players performing at a high level and others playing at their very limits, plus a lot of luck with injuries, as well as a heavy reliance on loan signings.

Would Newcastle have survived in 2017/18 without January loans Kenedy and Dubravka, the same last season with Salomon Rondon. The overwhelming reliance on the loan striker was shown in the opening months of the season when he arrived so late with no pre-season, a lack of fitness and then injury, playing a massive part in Newcastle winning not a single game until November when Rondon at last was fully fit.

Considering Newcastle lost three first team regulars this summer, including the two top scorers who scored over half of the goals, as well as a number of other players, the general perception amongst fans appears to be that at least five new signings are needed, most of them ready to go into the first team.

With only 17 days until the transfer window closes, the lack of urgency on signings is shocking. It is almost as though Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley don’t think there is any major work needed in strengthening the squad…

I think the major divide between fans and the club’s owner is that supporters believe/know that five or six signings need to be added just to give us a chance of not being certainties for another season-long relegation fight, whereas Mike Ashley (and Lee Charnley) thinks this current squad would stay up regardless and that if/when new signings are made, that will then progress the team/club even higher.

Whatever else any of us think about Steve Bruce and his ability to do the job, surely at the very least he will be honest with them anad make clear just how urgent the need is for both quality and quantity to be added ASAP.

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