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Opinion

A disastrous January transfer window for Newcastle United

3 weeks ago
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If the very worst did happen this season (apart from Mike Ashley and Steve Bruce staying on…) and Newcastle United were relegated, how would the 2021 January transfer window be viewed?

Well, there would be no other way of looking at it as anything other than a disaster.

A club in relegation trouble basically doing pretty much nothing to improve the situation.

Steve Bruce was very keen throughout January to make out he had some exciting loan deals ‘bubbling away’, this was met by scepticism from any Newcastle fan with a brain cell, knowing fine well that Mike Ashley won’t allow NUFC to compete for the better / obvious loan deals, when it comes to wages and loan fees.

Media that are loyal to Steve Bruce (and Mike Ashley?) were keen to make out that Bruce had been in there competing for the likes of England internationals Jesse Lingard and Ainsley Maitland-Niles, only to ‘miss out’ on them.

Hmmm, if there was any contact you’d imagine the likes of Man Utd and Arsenal laughing down the phone, when Lee Charnley or Steve Bruce said Newcastle wouldn’t pay a loan fee and wanted to only pay a small proportion of the wages.

These are some of the deals done in January by clubs that aren’t ‘big six’:

Wolves – Willian Jose (Real Sociedad) Loan

West Brom – (All loans) Robert Snodgrass (West Ham), Mbaye Diagne (Galatasaray), Okay Yokuslu (Celta Vigo), Ainsley Maitland-Niles (Arsenal)

Southampton – Takumi Minamino (Liverpool) Loan

Fulham – Josh Maja (Bordeaux) Loan

Everton – Joshua King (AFC Bournemouth) Loan

Brighton – Moises Caicedo (Independiente del Valle)

Villa – Morgan Sanson (Marseille)

West Ham – Said Benrahma (Brentford), Jesse Lingard (Man Utd) Loan

I’m not saying that every single one of these will prove a success and that Joe Willock will definitely prove a success BUT I think it is patently obvious that these other clubs were willing to spend at least a certain amount of money, even if only on loans, and Newcastle United weren’t. Meaning NUFC had zero chance of Lingard or Maitland-Niles, as they could only shop in the bargain basement.

Joe Willock has only started two Premier League games this season, twelve in his entire career, managing only the one goal and one assist from over 20 hours of PL football, including sub appearances.

All the best to him and I really hope he proves a success BUT it will be a major surprise.

Whereas Maitland-Niles with five England caps already, Lingard scoring twice in West Ham’s win at Villa last night, Joshua King who has been a supposed target for Newcastle for years, Sanson signing for Villa, Minamino going to Southampton, Jose with Wolves…I wouldn’t be at all surprised if any / many of these produce the goods.

Two things have diluted the whole January transfer window disaster and managed to take many a supporter’s eye off it.

The most obvious was Steve Bruce (Graeme Jones?) pulling a result totally out of the blue only 48 hours before the January transfer window ended.

The reality is that now the window has ended, Newcastle have a horrendous record of ten defeats and only one win in their last thirteen matches BUT that Everton win landed at a ridiculously lucky time for both Mike Ashley and Steve Bruce.

The other factor of course is the clubs at the bottom failing to eat into the safety gap Newcastle have at the moment.

This is how the Premier League table now looks on Thursday morning:

Fulham have threatened to make a surge but instead have drawn seven of their last ten PL games, they just can’t edge them into wins.

This has totally saved Steve Bruce and Newcastle from being at the heart of the relegation already.

However, it always happens that in later stages of the season, some clubs at the bottom go from looking hopeless to suddenly picking up wins. Sheffield United have won three of their last five now, what if they do the same in their next five, or Fulham or West Brom do the same, whilst Newcastle continue their atrocious run of form and results?

Of the clubs in the relegation fight only West Brom have conceded more goals than Newcastle, whilst at the other end we are totally reliant on Callum Wilson, who has been directly involved in over 68% of NUFC PL goals, scoring ten and five assists of the 22 goals.

The thing is, it isn’t just the failure of Newcastle to go after quality additions in the January transfer window to fight relegation.

You could arguably say that Newcastle are now weaker.

Steve Bruce had made DeAndre Yedlin first choice right-back with Manquillo on the sidelines, as Yedlin came back in and started five Premier League games in a row, up to and including defeat to Sheff Utd. It was only then NUFC messing up Yedlin’s visa situation that took him out of the team. Now Mike Ashley has given DeAndre Yedlin away to Galatasaray on a free transfer, simply to save five months of wages. If Manquillo gets injured again, we have absolutely no decent alternative, Krafth is really poor and Murphy simply can’t defend. Letting Yedlin go was totally pointless apart from for Ashley to cut costs, ridiculous when in the middle of a relegation battle.

What makes that move all the more stupid, is that whilst Aarons was at last sent on his way to Huddersfield and off the wage bill, Mike Ashley refused to do the deals with Atsu, Lazaar and Saivet that would have seen them paid off and able to get new clubs, Newcastle at least saving on some of the wages they will now pick up until the end of June, when they will be at last out of contract.

A January transfer window that comes as no surprise, the same as almost every single other January under Mike Ashley, except on the occasions where even Ashley couldn’t deny NUFC were in an active relegation fight.

This is yet another massive gamble, Mike Ashley simply gambling on the three clubs at the bottom keeping Newcastle United safe.

Relying on others is never a great strategy and explains why in the last 10 Premier League seasons Mike Ashley has already relegated our great club twice. This time it would be a hundred times worse if there is genuinely a chance of a takeover going ahead later this year.

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