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Steve Bruce can’t explain why he bought Joelinton

2 years ago

Joelinton cut a frustrated figure at St James Park on Saturday.

The centre-forward watching on totally isolated as Steve Bruce employed such a defensive formation against Brighton.

No exaggeration to say that some of the ballboys/girls will have had more touches of the ball than the Brazilian.

He certainly doesn’t look a bad player but two questions (as well as many others) stick out.

Is he a centre-forward and out and out goalscorer?

Why did Newcastle pay £40m for him?

If asked, Steve Bruce wouldn’t be able to tell you why he paid £40m for Joelinton.

The main reason for that of course is that it wasn’t his decision to make.

Mike Ashley was insistent on going back to having a Head Coach to train and coach the team, with decisions on who to buy and sell made by unknown others.

This creates all kinds of problems because how can a manger or head coach properly prepare the team/squad for the season when players are simply imposed on them.

The joke after Steve McClaren was sacked was that we should have been thankful he didn’t have any say on who was bought and sold, considering how hopeless he was in training and playing the team.

However, even as limited as Steve Bruce is, I would rather he was choosing the signings rather than Mike Ashley, Lee Charnley, Dennis Wise or whoever. We simply don’t know now who has the final say on which players are signed.

The signings of Joelinton and Allan Saint-Maximin were set up long before Steve Bruce arrived at the club.

Mike Ashley himself said in his infamous PR statement published by The Mail, that it was a massive issue for him when Rafa Benitez was refusing to have the £40m (Ashley says £43m(!!) in The Mail piece) signing of Joelinton imposed on him.

This was indeed key to Rafa Benitez staying or going.

Rafa repeatedly said that the amount of money available to buy players wasn’t the biggest issue he had, it was that Mike Ashley refused to allow the Spaniard to buy whoever he wanted within the budget available and also refused to allow Benitez to move quickly in transfer windows to secure his preferred targets.

Rafa Benitez wanted to choose his own signings that he knew the team/squad needed and then bring them ASAP in transfer windows, to give him as much time as possible to work with them and integrate them into the NUFC squad.

For unknown reasons Mike Ashley has repeatedly refused to allow early signings in windows, preferring to sign many players as late as possible which causes obvious problems when preparing for a new season or looking to save  season in January. People have speculated that Ashley bizarrely must think he will get better value the longer he waits (as well as saving on wages) and maybe sometimes that does work up to a point, Atlanta had to come down from their asking price as Miguel Almiron was signed on the very last day of January, despite Newcastle being desperate for added talent to fight relegation. Almiron’s agent said afterwards that the deal wouldn’t have happened if Atlanta hadn’t dropped their asking price. The big question then would have been, without the great impact Almiron sparked (21 points in the final 13 games after he signed compared to 21 points from previous 25 PL matches), would Newcastle have still avoided relegation?

This of course is at the heart of the problem, Mike Ashley looking to save a relatively small sum of money which risks a far far greater loss through relegation.

We were told in April when the accounts were published, that if he stayed, Rafa would have £61m to spend this summer plus money from players sold. However, we were also told that he would have to accept far less control on transfers.

In other words, Rafa Benitez would have seen the already prepared signings of Joelinton and Allan Saint-Maximin made and imposed on him, pretty much covering the entire supposed £61m budget, fans and no doubt Rafa as well being dubious as to how much, if any, cash would be made available from sales.

Which has been basically the case with Steve Bruce. The signings of ASM and Joelinton imposed on him, meaning the budget all pretty much used up, with the head coach having no say on which players were brought in and which positions most needed money spent on.

It was later revealed that both Krafth and Willems had also been long-term targets for Mike Ashley’s ramshackle recruitment policy.

Emil Krafth struggled for a game in Italy and only made 28 league starts in three years for Bologna, last season he did ok with small French club Amiens, but looks way off being a Premier League player. Even Steve Bruce finally accepted he had to drop him against Brighton, the limited but committed Manquillo coming in and doing ok up to a point, though like Krafth (and Yedlin) is not good enough.

Newcastle were crying out for two quality wing-backs pretty essential when playing with the three centre-backs. Yet the fatally flawed transfer policy meant only coppers were left to make the signings.

Hence Newcastle end up with Krafth and Willems, the loan player looking really poor when trying to defend.

Yes he scored that excellent goal at Liverpool but after the defeat, former Ajax star and now TV pundit, Jan van Halst, said about Jetro Willems: ‘It makes you crazy as a football analyst as of course you have to use him (going forward) with his speed but defensively he has his vulnerabilities. You have to take this for granted a bit. He will never get rid of it (defensive vulnerability) completely because he is already 25.”

That doesn’t cut it in the Premier League and like Krafth is nowhere near good enough.

Add in the other throw of the dice in this crazy transfer ‘strategy’ being to rely on an injured and rarely fit Andy Carroll to make up with Joelinton for the loss of Newcastle’s only two regular goalscorers.

Maybe Mike Ashley is a control freak, he simply doesn’t want to hand the authority over to somebody else to decide how tens of millions of pounds are spent.

If that is the case then the whole thing is truly mental (which of course it is regardless of what exactly is Ashley’s daft reasoning).

Why wouldn’t you let a top class manager identify and sign the players he knows he wants and needs to play in his team and formation/tactics…and choose instead to have far less qualified people (whoever they are) choosing which players to buy and sell, then handing them over to a Championship level head coach to train and play, without having any part in deciding who to sign?


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