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‘Amazing signings…Mike Ashley has been class’ – Newcastle United fans need to get a grip

2 weeks ago
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This past week has been a strange one when observing the behaviour of a lot of Newcastle United fans.

For so many of them they appear to have absolutely no clue about perspective or context when things are happening.

Whilst at the same time, apparently also having learnt absolutely nothing from these past 13 years that we have all lived through.

I am mainly talking about the signings made this summer and especially the ones this past week.

I think Newcastle United as a club / team are in a better position than they were a week ago BUT…

Fact is, we were in an absolute mess this time last week.

Coming off the back of a season when Newcastle were incredibly lucky not to be on knife edge for relegation, scored only 38 goals (you have to go back to 1997/98 to when NUFC scored less), had the third worst Premier League form of the 20 clubs from Christmas 2019 onwards, had won only four of the final twenty PL games of 2019/20 (two of those against ten men).

Then pre-season was a total shambles, not a penny spent and only two free transfers who are squad players, plus Steve Bruce presiding over yet another growing catalogue of injuries (as he has experienced at pretty much every club he has ever been at, including NUFC last season!), including Martin Dubravka who despite picking up an injury that was painful to train on, was allowed to continue for three more days in training before the injury was properly looked at and needed an operation and Dubravka to wear a brace afterwards.

By last Saturday night you had Dubravka and Gayle long term injuries, Schar and Matty Longstaff out for the foreseeable as well with their injuries / recoveries, Dummett and Clark still not right and missing the start of the season, as well as Shelvey (knee injury) and Ritchie (calf) struggling and missing from the final friendlies.

As for those final friendlies, hammered 5-1 by Middlesbrough, then so poor again as they lost 1-0 to Stoke. Yes results aren’t that important pre-season but when accompanied by such poor displays, it is a major concern.

Then in came Callum Wilson, Ryan Fraser and Jamal Lewis.

The signings coming within a 24 hour period from Monday through to Tuesday, clearly as we found out timed to coincide with Mike Ashley’s PR / club politics, as he then on Wednesday landed at the training ground and released an official statement accusing the Premier League of rejecting a takeover by not acting ‘appropriately’…

For many Newcastle United fans though, the cavalry had arrived, it was astonishing, we were saved! Mike Ashley was apparently now running NUFC like a proper football club, maybe he had now seen the light, as one comment summed up the mood amongst many…’Say what you like about him but Mike Ashley has been class this week.’

As I said above, Newcastle DO appear to be in a better position now than a week ago BUT in my opinion, there has been no seismic change, no complete u-turn, no change of heart (if indeed Mike Ashley has one), no giant leap forward for (Geordie) mankind.

Mike Ashley has finally allowed some money to be spent that increases the chances of avoiding relegation and improves the team BUT not to anything like the degree that many Newcastle United fans appear to be assuming will automatically happening.

Plus of course, it is a total shambles that Mike Ashley has refused to allow the key signings to be made until such a late stage.

The mantra of so many Newcastle United fans is that it is brilliant that Mike Ashley has allowed only signings to come in who are British and have played in the Premier League before (Gillespie excepted). So if that was a case a year ago, we would not have Allan Saint-Maximin, who all supporters will acknowledge was by far our best outfield player last season, certainly in terms of when Newcastle occasionally crossed the halfway line.

So what exactly have Newcastle United / Mike Ashley brought in this summer?

Newcastle United fans list all five signings together as though collectively all five of them make Newcastle stronger.

Reality is that pretty much none of them have ever seen Mark Gillespie play, he is a new third choice keeper and he is living the dream now after having been let go aged 16 by NUFC, good luck to him if he ever gets a go in the first team and you know he would give it everything BUT reality is that he has made his name in the lower divisions in England and is simply a squad player.

Jeff Hendrick is surely not intended to be a first choice player. He is ok back up but in a midfield lacking goals and creativity, adding a midfielder who has five assists in four Premier League seasons and only nine goals, isn’t going to improve our first team.

As for the three signings this past week, even in the feeble state Mike Ashley has reduced us to, they are all signings that should have been well within Newcastle’s reach, if you pay the transfer fees and wages.

It is really as easy as that.

Not incredible work by Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley as Steve Bruce is ordered to read out at press conferences.

The top six and ambitious clubs such as Leicester and Wolves weren’t competing with Newcastle for the trio of signings.

Indeed, whilst Steve Bruce claims Newcastle faced fierce competition for Wilson, Fraser and Lewis, who exactly were these clubs?

Not saying they are poor players and I’m sure other clubs would have definitely taken them, but reality is, Newcastle (Mike Ashley) had to sign some credible players to try and avoid a potentially disastrous season, so clearly did offer the wages the players wanted and the transfer fees the clubs were looking for.

Callum Wilson chose to come to Newcastle not Villa, which was good to hear. However, they did come within a whisker of relegation last season and Villa have now gone out and got Watkins instead on a deal that could cost them £14m more for the 24 year old (than NUFC with Wilson) if all works out. No other clubs were actively competing for Callum Wilson, he does look a decent goalscorer BUT only once has he scored more than eight goals in a PL season, turns 29 in February, has had two serious ACL injuries so clearly Mike Ashley has felt he had no other alternative to pay for a relatively short-term signing to try and keep Newcastle up.

I welcome the signing BUT I am amazed at the media and some Newcastle United fans describing it as a signing that shows planning for the long-term. Having a laugh!

Jamal Lewis sounds a promising signing but some Newcastle United fans going way overboard when I bet they can’t even remember him from last season! Norwich had by far the worst defence last season (conceding 75 goals) and whilst clearly this wasn’t all the fault of Jamal Lewis, he has only made 25 PL starts and he is all potential, we can’t expect him to immediately come in and improve this Newcastle team.

Then we have Ryan Fraser, potentially a signing who could most improve Newcastle BUT that is based on only one season from the career of the 26 year old.

He scored seven PL goals in 2018/19 and got a stunning 14 assists BUT has wasted everybody’s time these past 17 months or so.

Fraser has only scored one PL goal since April 2019 and cynically ran his contract down so he could leave Bournemouth as a free agent, wasting this past season where he really let the south coast club down.

Ryan Fraser got only one goal and four assists in the Premier League in 2019/20, with five goals and three assists in 2017/18 and three goals and five assists in 2016/17. Not stunning stats.

Fraser has not played any football since March and has had almost no pre-season, even if he is to be a success it will surely take him weeks as a minimum to get up to speed.

Mike Ashley has allowed the bare minimum to come into Newcastle United.

The club have signed players that were well within their scope.

Only £30m or so has been spent, this is not a revolution.

This is Mike Ashley doing the bare minimum to try and avoid relegation.

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