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Journalist exposes transfer decision making process inside Newcastle United

2 years ago

How the decision making process ‘works’ with transfers at Newcastle United has been laid bare by a journalist today.

In an excellent article, Craig Hope has exposed how the signing of Joelinton came to be.

Who could/should receive the credit for it…

The man (Craig Hope) from The Mail has increasingly become a bit of a lone beacon of light, shining the full beam on the mess caused at St James Park by Mike Ashley and his latest Head Coach stooge/patsy. Whilst the majority of journalists regular covering Newcastle United are happy to slavishly tow the Ashley line, acting as lapdogs for the NUFC owner, never/rarely questioning the crass running of the club and ridiculous comments Steve Bruce makes before and after matches.

Hope states that the Joelinton transfer is ‘unprecedented’ as ‘the worst piece of transfer business in recent Premier League history’, impossible to disagree with that statement.

So who should get the ‘credit’ for how Newcastle United paid £40m (Ashley says £43m) for somebody who was brought in to mainly replace the 55% of last season’s NUFC Premier League goals that were lost when the owner made no attempt to keep Rondon or Perez? Craig Hope’s piece saying that Steve Bruce even admitted last month about Joelinton: ‘He’s not a natural goalscorer…But because of the problems we’ve had with injuries, we’ve had to use him as a number nine’, with Craig Hope commenting: ‘It was at this point that Bruce was reminded Joelinton literally wears No 9.’

The piece in The Mail saying how the Joelinton signing came about:

‘Steve Nickson was the chief scout lauded with doing the spade work at the time of the Brazilian’s arrival, watching him close to 30 times for German club Hoffenheim.

Mike Ashley signed the cheque and even made a rare visit to Tyneside to meet the player, later declaring he would have put in £20m of his own money to get the deal done, so excited were they about his potential.

Lee Charnley was the managing director who recommended to Ashley the deal should be done on the say-so of Nickson and his scouting team, for they had left no stone unturned.

And Steve Bruce was the manager parachuted into the club in July who claimed he had signed off on the transfer and insisted Joelinton was his acquisition.

To Ashley, he was a roulette chip, a gamble, he’d been sold a dream of making a handsome profit. On the evidence of this season it would not be a surprise were Joelinton back on loan in the Bundesliga next year with a view to an undisclosed permanent, for making public his current market value would no doubt be a source of great embarrassment for Newcastle.’

The agreement to sign Joelinton was delayed of course.

Rafa Benitez couldn’t force through any signing BUT his contract gave him a veto on any signings in or out happening. Ahead of the season in his embarrassing PR propaganda piece put up by Martin Samuel (also on The Mail, ironically), Mike Ashley ridiculed Rafa for not having agreed to the club doing a deal in February 2019 to pay £43m for Joelinton, the NUFC owner claiming (though no normal Newcastle fan would believe it) he would pay £20m out of his own pocket towards the fee if Rafa agreed, so sure Ashley was that the Brazilian would be such a stellar signing.

It became transparent by the summer that Mike Ashley was forcing Rafa Benitez out, so he could return to his preferred model of him (Ashley) deciding which players were bought, with a desperate patsy/stooge in Steve Bruce as Head Coach who had no say on transfers in and out.

So by removing that obstacle (Rafa), it became a case of the scouting team led by Steve Nickson going and watching players, bringing their recommendations to Lee Charnley, who would then ask Mike Ashley if any signing(s) got the go ahead.

What could possibly go wrong…

With top class experienced at the highest level in multiple countries manager Rafa Benitez out of the way, two of the three taking part in the decision making process were Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley.

Which leaves head of recruitment Steve Nickson…

Newcastle United official club statement – 1 July 2017:

‘Newcastle United has today appointed former Under-21s scout, Steve Nickson, as the club’s new head of recruitment following the departure of former chief scout Graham Carr last week.

Steve will work closely with manager Rafa Benítez and assumes responsibility for the organisation and management of player recruitment at all levels across the club.

Steve, along with Rafa and managing director Lee Charnley, will evaluate all aspects of United’s player recruitment function, including the processes and systems used for scouting players at all levels throughout the club to ensure Newcastle United is best positioned to achieve its targets in this and future seasons.’

Is Steve Nickson good, bad or indifferent at his job? I don’t know.

What I do know though, is that when it comes to paying £40m/£43m for a player, twice as much as the club has ever paid for any signing, I would be most definitely trusting Champions League winning, twice La Liga winning, twice Europa Cup winning manager Rafa Benitez’ judgement.

I have no doubt that Steve Nickson could present a very case based on stats (apart from goals…) as to why Joelinton would be a good signing BUT the final judgement surely has to rest on the expert eye of your manager, both in terms of the quality of the proposed signing AND maybe even more importantly, is he what the team needs and where would he play.

Steve Nickson might go on to have a career packed with success stories in player recruitment but before he got this current role, he was the Under 21 scout, as per the club’s press release when he was promoted. A lot of responsibility put on his shoulders when he’d never worked at a similar level elsewhere. At least with Graham Carr, he had a long track record including working in recruitment at both Tottenham and Manchester City, before he came to St James Park.

Sadly, most fans will look at this and wonder if this is simply yet another case of Mike Ashley doing everything on the cheap. Just like Lee Charnley named as Managing Director when already at the club, on a fraction of what the going rate is for MDs/CEOs at other top clubs.

Safe to assume Steve Nickson won’t be one of the best paid heads of recruitment in the Premier League…

Mike Ashley doing everything on the cheap but as so often happens, turns out to be false economy.

Whoever is responsible for the signing of Joelinton has a lot of explaining to do.


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