Injuries meant Mike Ashley had no other option but to sanction these transfers
Welcome back everyone, let’s get the formalities out of the way and hope you are all well in light of the current climate.
After a short turn around, it’s time to look where we are at with regards to the new season, what to make of the signings and where the club are likely to finish.
If you had asked me two weeks ago I would have said we would probably stumble to survival based on the lack of quality in the league.
However, if you had asked me last week, after hearing about the long term losses of both Dwight Gayle and Martin Dubravka I would have said relegation beckons.
I think that Mike Ashley has sanctioned just enough money / signings. to just about survive. When relegation is spelled out to him as clear as day, he reacts, for as soon as the severity of Dwight Gayle’s injury was confirmed, Ashley had no option but to sanction transfers, as to simply rely on Andy Carroll for goals would have meant almost certain relegation. Ashley likes a gamble but not when an injury prone striker who hasn’t scored a Premier League goal in 29 months is the only wager on offer.
I’m not going to go into where I think we will pick up points on a game by game basis as I’ll simply stand by my summer prediction that we will stay up, no more no less. Let’s be fair, that’s the aim of the game under this owner.
I don’t think the signings made have improved us to any great degree, certainly not enough to get us into the top half, and as there are question marks over the fitness records of both Carroll and new signing Callum Wilson, I can’t see many goals in the side. If we get just 20 starts out of each of them, it will be an achievement. If they score ten goals collectively that will likely be enough.
The signing of Jamal Lewis is a decent one so no problem there but in Ryan Fraser we have a different story. I’ll never condone someone effectively downing tools like he admitted to doing at the back end of last season for Bournemouth. It’s abhorrent and as they were eventually relegated, he should hold a guilty conscience. A certain Mr M Owen did similar towards the end of his time with us so as to protect any future transfer as a free agent he may get. Shameless is what it is.
I can’t get excited about Jeff Hendrick as he’s just a bog standard Premier League midfielder and we already have enough of those sort of players at the club. Mark Gillespie was a signing we didn’t need, although after the shockingly handled injury situation with Dubravka, Gillespie has received an instant promotion to the bench, but nobody is going to convince me that either he or Karl Darlow are Premier League class.
On the subject of the ‘keepers, the Dubravka injury is a shocking example of Steve Bruce and his coaches not managing the fitness/injury of players. The player told them he was injured and the club still had him continue to train on it. What sort of idiot risks the club’s best players and an investment without checking the injury out? Now we are without my player of last season and are left with players nowhere near as good. Bruce had better hope it’s not as long term as it sounds because Dubravka kept us in games and won many points on his own last season. Gross negligence.
Then again, Bruce has form and it’s injuries that are my major worry for the coming season. We’ve packed off Florian Lejeune to Spain in a move that is best for both club and player as he’s not been the same since the two cruciate injuries he has suffered and we have enough centre backs anyway. The player himself is better off personally after being ran into the ground last season by the Head Coach when returning from injury to the point where he looked a shadow of the player he once was. Mind you, his two league goals in 120 seconds away at Everton was as many as £40m Joelinton managed all season, the Brazilian another player played to death by Bruce when it simply wasn’t working for the lad. He’s not a very good player but that’s not his fault.
Come the season’s end I feel we will stumble to anywhere between 13th-17th depending on how the other bottom teams get on. Leeds United have spent a fortune, Fulham have made inroads into the transfer market to prepare them for life back in the Premier League, while our pre-season has been muddled at best, calamitous at worst. Not to read into the Middlesbrough friendly match too much but to get tonked 5-1 off a side that nearly got relegated to League One is hardly a sign for any positivity. The injury situation was highlighted by the fact we couldn’t field two centre backs in the following game against Stoke, Bruce instead opting for Isaac Hayden in the back line, a player I’m pleased we’ve extended the contract of.
But once again it’s the injury situation that will undo Bruce, something which he has lamented at many of the clubs he’s been at. You’d think he’d have learned by now. Maybe during the summer break, Bruce should have booked himself onto an online physiotherapy course as he appears to be making the same mistakes as last season, much like he has done throughout his entire managerial career. Mind you, I suspected that the injury problem would rear it’s ugly head, the only thing that has surprised me is how soon the problem has arisen. He has his number one excuse already laid out for him.
Take Matt Ritchie’s availability for the opening fixture at West Ham United. To say that a player is “touch and go” on a Friday and expect said player to have any chance of making the game on the Saturday is playing fast and loose with a players fitness.
And on the subject of West Ham, we have an altogether different situation. The game, already being held behind closed doors due to the ongoing virus crisis, will likely be seen by less and less people. I don’t have Sky Sports and I like many others will be adverse to going out this weekend due to the fact that I expect plenty people to use it as a last hurrah before the government’s new restrictions on gatherings come into place on Monday. Sitting in a pub and socialising with all and sundry simply doesn’t have the appeal these days, so I may just have the local radio on on Saturday night at 8pm and to be honest, if a decent film can be mustered, I may just flick through my phone at half time. Interest in both Newcastle United and football is at an all time low.
For those that still have an avid interest in Newcastle United and the Premier League’s product then that’s up to you, although I would ask the question, what exactly would it take for you to walk away from either the club or the league as a whole?
I’ve often enjoyed sitting with a pint watching the football (even some other teams’ matches if there’s a big game on) but with the actions of Richard Masters and his cohorts at the Premier League over the summer fresh in the memory, the feeling against the “competition” (term used very loosely) is now one of utter contempt and disdain.
There must be a point where it becomes too much to be bothered with in it’s repetitive nature, even for the diehards. It’s bad enough when opposing teams and rival fans are out to take the micky, that’s the price on the ticket in any sport. But when the club’s manager shows such outright incompetence, an owner takes the Michael for 13 years and even the sports own governing body rub fans’ faces in the brown stuff, it’s high time to leave them all to it…
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