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Opinion

Newcastle United contracts – Amazing that more people couldn’t see problems ahead

2 weeks ago
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Newcastle United contracts were raining down like confetti.

Player after player given a new contract after Mike Ashley had allowed a situation to develop where the vast majority of the NUFC first team squad had less than two years left on their current deals, many of those less than one year.

It summed up just how dysfunctional this club is under Mike Ashley but the rash of new Newcastle United contracts to existing players, I was just amazed to see how few Newcastle fans were appreciating the problems that they were building up.

Fast forwarding to the present day and maybe a few more NUFC supporters are seeing the ‘small’ flaw in Mike Ashley’s cunning plan.

On 8 September 2020 Jamal Lewis was signed, moving forward a year and in this time the only first team squad signing has been Joe Willock. Which in reality it will then mean one new player signed in 18 months because nobody can be brought in now until the next transfer window. Then, when you consider how few players Mike Ashley usually allows to be signed in January windows, we could be looking at only one new first team squad player signed in a two year period…

So anyway, this desperate master plan of giving new Newcastle United contracts to pretty much every existing NUFC player, instead of actually signing new players, just how cunningly good is it?

Well, it is rubbish.

Here is a starting point to look at the key issues surrounding the awarding of new wholesale Newcastle United contracts to existing players, rather than bringing in new signings.

These are the 10 Newcastle United players who made most starts in the 2016/17 promotion season (number of starts in brackets):

44 Dummett

41 Lascelles

40 Ritchie

38 Shelvey

34 Clark

34 Darlow

33 Gouffran

28 Hayden

27 Diame

26 Gayle

Quite unbelievable, that five Premier League seasons on, we still have eight of the ten players who started most games in that last promotion season, the now 35 year old Gouffran and 34 year old Diame the only two exceptions.

By February (2022) only two of the eight won’t be in their 30s, Hayden and Lascelles.

On top of the age things, you also have even more importantly, the quality aspect. Hand on heart, how many of these eight longstanding promotion winners would get a first team place at another Premier League club, apart from maybe at the couple of teams rated most likely to be relegated?

Steve Bruce himself has bemoaned the fact that no other Premier League clubs wanted to buy any of his players in this latest summer transfer window, apart from the obvious small handful of better quality NUFC players.

Indeed, Bruce also said that a big problem was that Championship clubs spending so little money made it so difficult for him to move players out which potentially then could allow him to bring new players in.

I’m sorry but doesn’t this just sum up how ridiculous the plan was, to give all of these existing players new Newcastle United contracts?

It wasn’t just those above who have got new contracts in recent times, loads of others as well having their stays extended, such as Manquillo, Fernandez, Schar, Murphy etc.

Again, how many of these players would be regular first teamers at other Premier League clubs?

I’m not saying nobody should have had their contracts extended but the ratio is all wrong, a small number of them maybe but not to this staggering extent.

There are some real crazy ones amongst those that got new Newcastle United contracts, when you look at the reality.

Dwight Gayle got a new three year contract but he turns 32 in October and Steve Bruce will do anything not to play him. Only four Premier League starts last season and not a single PL minute this season, despite all three PL games so far seeing Newcastle desperate for a goal(s) late in matches.

Paul Dummett has been so unlucky with injuries but it is simply presenting an illusion to extend his stay. Only fit and able to make 14 PL starts in each of Bruce’s first two seasons, sadly he will never be able to stay fit. A good defender when available…but that is the issue, he never will stay fit and available and yet fills up a squad place. Yet Florian Lejeune played almost every minute in La Liga last season and showed good form, yet gets sold for a pittance.

How on earth Jonjo stroller Shelvey got another contract simply defies belief, it will now mean he’ll have been here for a total of seven and a half years before inevitably leaving on a free in 2023.

Matt Ritchie, gives his all but how on earth do we still have him as a first choice starter? He is so bad defensively now in this wing-back position and only 12 months ago Steve Bruce paid £15m for Jamal Lewis yet hasn’t started him in a PL game for seven months now…

Jamaal Lascelles and Isaac Hayden, why are they on such ridiculously long contracts? I think to be honest it has contributed to them stagnating and in my opinion getting worse not better, not helped of course by Steve Bruce in charge of them these days. I honestly think they should have both have moved on previously for theirs and NUFC’s benefit, never mind this summer wondering why they are still here.

Javier Manquillo was given a new four year contract last summer and yet got only 10 PL starts last season and has been completely frozen out this season in the league. Our best defender on that right side and yet totally sidelined for Newcastle in the Premier League, Bruce favouring the hopeless Krafth and Murphy who can’t defend and needs moving further forward.

There are claims that Mike Ashley and his inner circle see it as a case of by handing out new Newcastle United contracts to the players who have helped keep NUFC up previously, will ensure that they do the same this season…

You can quite believe that this thinking will exist and you can also believe Steve Bruce either sharing that daft belief, or simply too weak to tell Mike Ashley and his people that it is stupid beyond belief.

Almost without exception, all of these longstanding Newcastle players are in decline, getting worse and not maintaining their previous levels.

Relegation / survival is now very much in the balance due to this ridiculous Newcastle United contracts situation and failure to invest in enough new better quality players.

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