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Amanda Staveley interview must be revisited to understand Newcastle United transfer window

2 weeks ago
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Exactly two months ago, Amanda Staveley gave a big interview.

It was following the appointment of Eddie Howe, the new Newcastle United owners thankfully sacking Steve Bruce and a  NUFC Head Coach appointed within a month of taking over the club.

However, that was only scraping the surface in terms of the sheer scale of the task that the new owners had taken on, when it comes to turning Newcastle United around.

Amanda Staveley in an interview with the club’s own NUFC TV – 11 November 2021:

“It would have been an easy for us not to buy the club, wait until post-Christmas…see where the club is sat in the league, then make the acquisition…we decided [though] that if we didn’t get it now, it wasn’t going to happen, we felt we had to take that risk.”

“The welcome we have had in Newcastle has just been so extraordinary, so special, we just don’t want to let anyone down. One of the things I want to do is to be able to communicate with the fans and if we do make mistakes we will quickly own up to them and put them right.”

“Investment is needed at every area [of the club]…there is a lot of investment needed…whether that’s new training facilities, we are looking at building a new academy.”

“We’ve got a robust business plan and we are developing that every week. January is a monster and so we’re preparing for the January transfer window. It’s not a window that we’d ordinarily want to invest in because you don’t get the right deals but that is something that is important at the moment.”

I think in order to properly understand this Newcastle United January transfer window, you have to revisit this Amanda Staveley interview above.

Whilst the Saudi backed consortium had been trying to buy the club for two years, it is important to first acknowledge how in the end the takeover came out of the blue. Suddenly Saudi Arabia reaching agreement with beIN Sports, which meant TV piracy issues were removed from the equation, leading to the Premier League suddenly able to wave through the NUFC takeover. Speaking back on the day of the takeover (7 October 2021), Amanda Staveley made clear that things had happened very very quickly at the end.

Bottom line is, yes the consortium had been trying to buy Newcastle United for a couple of years BUT they had minimal advance warning before the actual takeover when it happened. People have questioned why they didn’t have this and that in place ahead of the deal, whether it is Chief Executive, Manager / Head Coach, Director of Football, players to be signed, the list is endless.

The thing is, you only have to look at Rafa Benitez to know for sure that the consortium had minimal advance warning. I think it is safe to say that Rafa would have been the choice of the new owners to come in and replace Steve Bruce BUT only three months before the takeover happened, Benitez took the Everton job. Nobody is telling me that Rafa would have taken the Everton job if he’d known the Newcastle United takeover was happening in only a few months time.

So as Amanda Staveley states in this 11 November 2021 interview above, they were thrown in headfirst when it came to taking over the club and having to get on with the job of sorting out 14+ years of Mike Ashley neglect. A football club without most of the infrastructure and key personnel that all other Premier League clubs have as a minimum.

Certain major things the new owners were always going to have deal with and as Amanda Staveley makes clear in this November interview, well aware of the desperate need for a new first team training complex and a new and properly resourced Academy, but those were always going to take time.

What couldn’t be allowed to take time, was tackling the massive short-term shocker of having to try and avoid relegation from the Premier League.

Like any new owners of a football club, by far the best timing would be getting control at the end of a season and having the summer to prepare for the following campaign.

As Amanda Staveley makes very clear, their choice would never have been a couple of months into a new season, the team deep in relegation trouble, an absolutely shameful summer 2021 transfer window that failed to correct massive weaknesses all over the team / squad, leading to entering the season with a seriously weak in many places unbalanced squad that Amanda Staveley and co inherited, plus a Head Coach in Steve Bruce who was patently not good enough.

In no circumstances did the new Newcastle United owners want to take over at such a time BUT as Amanda Staveley makes absolutely transparent, they knew they had no choice if they wanted to ever get the keys to St James Park: ‘…if we didn’t get it now, it wasn’t going to happen, we felt we had to take that risk.’

Which then of course brings us to what Amanda Staveley had to say two months ago about the January 2022 transfer window:  ‘We’ve got a robust business plan and we are developing that every week. January is a monster and so we’re preparing for the January transfer window. It’s not a window that we’d ordinarily want to invest in because you don’t get the right deals but that is something that is important at the moment.’

The new owners were very much aware of how fraught January is, when it comes to bringing in the right players. Amanda Staveley even making clear that they wouldn’t have bought in anybody this month if it had been their choice.

However, the sheer scale of the mess left by Bruce and Ashley has left them with no choice, to make the best of a bad job and try to strengthen this NUFC squad enough, so it doesn’t go down.

Doing so at a time when mid-season no club wants to sell their good / best players, as of course they need them for the remainder of the season unlike the summer, if they sell then they will face that exact same problem of other clubs only willing to sell their rubbish players.

It is only if certain circumstances exist that the right players are available, so with Kieran Trippier, he was desperate to be back with his family in the UK, with six months of his contract left it was the last chance for Atletico Madrid to bank some cash, plus the Spanish club wanted to play fair with a player who had done so well for two and a half years and had been a key contributor to last season’s La Liga title win.

Which brings us to other Newcastle United targets this month, who the NUFC owners and Eddie Howe are most definitely trying to sign, in numerous positions and with shopping lists for each of those positions, not just the odd target here and there.

You see fans and indeed journalists and pundits shouting…’just give them whatever they want, pay another £10m / £20m / £30m…’

There are people who obviously believe that the entire Saudi PIF can be called upon to turn Newcastle United around. Something which obviously is not the case, the cash in the PIF is there to use on countless deals / investments / businesses, with Newcastle United just one of many. Regardless of that, you have FFP (Financial Fair Play) rules anyway, that means you can’t just spend whatever you want, window after window.

There is no doubt that these new owners mean business and are willing to invest in the club long-term, as well as willing to invest in the early days on the playing squad to help boost as quick a turn around on the pitch as possible.

However, reality is that you have to have some structure, a business plan, budgets and so on.

You also have to have your realistic football head on.

Reality is that Newcastle United could spend hundreds of millions this month and yet because football is such an impossible to predict sport, it would still not guarantee safety. The more money invested in better quality players, the more chance you have, but once they step on the pitch it is still no guarantee of results.

You also can’t buy a load of players who will all then demand to leave in the summer if the club are relegated. That would just be tempting disaster.

I think reality in this transfer window is that Newcastle United will be able to make at least two or three buys, signings who will come in like Trippier with eyes wide open and understand that relegation could happen, but be committed to then staying on if the worst did happen.

I also think that Newcastle United will bring in two or three on loan, whether that is with or without a potential permanent deal in place for the summer if everything works out. However, loan deals for the decent players are usually problematic in terms of getting them done early in January, so I think we just have to accept that these could well have to happen later in January rather than earlier. These players want to see what options they have, whilst the clubs are reluctant to let them go out early in case of injuries to other players in their squad and potentially waiting to see if other signings can be made by them that then allows loans to happen.

The important thing is that like the fans, these new NUFC owners say they are here for the long haul and are obviously clearly desperate to be successful on and off the pitch with Newcastle United.

Amanda Staveley in her November interview admits mistakes will be made and what is important is that they own up to them when they happen. Plus of course learn from those mistakes.

Mistakes are going to happen BUT I do think 100% that the new owners are doing everything possible in January to bring in the best possible players. That will do for me.

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