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Opinion

This is the evidence for what to now expect from this Mike Ashley 2020 Summer transfer window

1 month ago
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As Newcastle United fans, there are a few things that we can now be pretty sure of.

We will be relying on the ‘ambition’ of Mike Ashley in this summer transfer window.

With Ashley’s track record, we should be very worried.

Especially when he is the one who is now controlling which players come and go, with Rafa’s era of the Spaniard having the final say, now a distant memory.

Back on 24 July, ahead of the final match of the season against Liverpool, Steve Bruce gave us an insight into what to expect in this transfer window. When Bruce spoke, there were 50 days remaining until the 2020/21 Premier League season kicks off, now we are already down to 34 days until the PL starts, with this the 14th day of the transfer window and nothing to lift the spirits so far.

Steve Bruce asked on 24 July about the takeover and the 2020 summer transfer window:

“We need a resolution [to the takeover] one way or the other but all I can do, along with Lee Charnley, is to plan for what we need and work on that.

“A lot of previous planning has been disrupted because of what has happened in the world [with the impact of the virus].

“We have got one or two things in the fire right now [regarding transfers].

“Let’s hope we can pull them off but we have got competition.

“We need to improve the squad but also have to ensure we get value for money.”

Signing any or all of the three loan players on permanent deals?:

“We’ll have the conversations after the season finishes.

“The three of them have certainly helped us.

“We haven’t had a left back so we brought Danny [Rose] in.

“Bentaleb has come back very well.

“Lazaro hasn’t had the game time but I’ve been quietly pleased with him.”

So after the 2019/20 Premier League season ended, there were only seven weeks until the 2020/21 one kicked off.

We are now down to less than five weeks until the season kicks off and the players come back for pre-season training in a week’s time, with then four weeks to prepare for the  2020/21 campaign.

The summer transfer window does run through for ten weeks in total until  5 October BUT it is surely imperative that Mike Ashley allows significant investment in this squad. Sadly it appears we are stuck with Steve Bruce whilst Mike Ashley remains, despite Bruce overseeing relegation form in the final half of the season, the third worst form in the Premier League as Newcastle won only four of their final 20 games of the 2019/20 season.

Steve Bruce said on 24 July that a resolution to the takeover was needed urgently but claimed that regardless of that, he and the club have got some new signings that are being lined up. Well we have had a kind of resolution to the takeover with what fans are hoping is a tactical withdrawal from the consortium to force the Premier League to show their hand – but it appears at the very least we won’t see any takeover happen in the near future, meaning Mike Ashley to be ‘relied on’ for this summer’s transfers.

Steve Bruce talking about improving the squad AND value for money sounds ominous.

Value for money is obviously something that any club should strive for but at Newcastle under Mike Ashley, it has usually meant trying to do it on the cheap.

Steve Bruce had already previously said that the club would be looking at ‘Bosmans’ and interesting to look at what has happened these past couple of years in terms of transfer policy at NUFC.

Of the last 21 senior players signed, a massive 13 of them have been either free transfers or loan deals.

Carroll, Ki and Gillespie are the frees, then you have loan deals for Slimani, Dubravka, Kenedy, Barreca, Rondon, Kenedy, Willems, Rose, Bentaleb and Lazaro.

The eight paid for deals being Fernandez, Schar, Dubravka, Muto, Almiron, Joelinton, ASM and Krafth.

If you take out Joelinton, Almiron, Muto and ASM, the other 17 of these last 21 signings cost just £18m in transfer fees (Fernandez £6m, Schar £3m, Dubravka £4m, Krafth £5m).

With Gillespie already signed on a free, I would be very surprised if the main business under Mike Ashley doesn’t prove to be more frees and or loan signings in the coming weeks, with the odd budget buy possibly thrown in.

I hope I am proved wrong because this Newcastle United team and squad needs some serious strengthening, especially when it comes to goalscoring and creativity. Positions where every club is always looking for quality players and where bargains are rare.

To make the situation even more pressing, we also have a number of players that are major doubts for the start of the season.

I can’t see Lascelles or Schar being ready for the opening game, after their respective operations, which both carried recovery times of around eight weeks.

Newcastle also ended the season with the likes of Lejeune, Dummett and Clark still out injured. Matty Longstaff is now out of contract and Yedlin surely set to leave, the three January loan players have now left – though didn’t do anything really to suggest they were worth keeping.

You have Hayden who has repeatedly said he wants to leave due to family reasons and has only one year left on his contract, Carroll in no way can be relied on to be fit, whilst Gayle also rarely sees out a season without injury issues.

I don’t even want to touch on the list of players who don’t look up to playing in the Premier League (Aarons, Lazaar, Krafth, Muto, Murphy, Saivet, Atsu…).

Mike Ashley has relied ever more on temporary sticking plasters of loans and frees to help get Newcastle United to survive in recent seasons, no long-term building of the team / squad. Newcastle also have an ageing squad, which would suggest even less pace throughout the team as well as increased likelihood of injuries.

This summer needed a massive overhaul of the squad due to lack of previous investment and the refusal to look beyond getting to the next season each summer.

I have a feeling that relying on a few more cheap / free sticking plasters in the coming weeks could / would prove disastrous.

Newcastle need at least a handful of decent signings, well ahead of the 12 September weekend when play will resume.

The clock is ticking ever louder.

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