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Opinion

Newcastle United caught between a rock and a hard place

2 weeks ago
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What is the difference between “Credible” and “Incredible” signings for Newcastle United in this January transfer window?

We’ve heard all sorts of names bandied about since the new owners bought the club.

Ridiculous talk of the likes of Mbappe and Co coming in immediately to shoot Newcastle United to Champions League glory and all that nonsense. However, most fans have some sense of realism with regards to who WILL actually sign up and join the club.

We have so far acquired the excellent England full back Kieran Trippier. Incredible that we managed to pull that one off in our current plight and a player that signals that we can still draw players to a club that many south of Scotch Corner want to label “Not a big club”.

The trouble is, when we start looking at players that may be deemed as not being good enough to some, you have to take into context the job they are coming in to do. Newcastle United caught between a rock and a hard place. You also have to realise that some signings are more credible than others.

The announcement is awaited on the signing of Burnley striker Chris Wood and for some this is an underwhelming signing. Ordinarily, I’d concur, but we are in extraordinary times and situations. With that in mind, this could prove to be an inspired signing no matter which way you look at it and the fact that he has a release clause allowing him to talk to us, without all that haggling, is a massive bonus. It also takes away an option from a relegation rival. Look at it this way, we would be nicking one of the strikers from the team just above us.

I recently wrote an article analysing the merits both good and bad of utilising Dwight Gayle and how, as limited as he is, he must be worth a try. Even a poor striker is better than no striker at all right?

Under Steve Bruce, then Graeme Jones and now Eddie Howe, the answer appears to be no and Gayle can’t seem to get more than mere moments on the pitch. I wouldn’t be adverse to playing the pair of them up front to be honest in the absence of the injured Callum Wilson.

Furthermore, on Dwight Gayle again and to add some context to this deal, if the roles were reversed and we sold Gayle, a striker that is labelled as being a Championship level striker, fans would likely be happy with that, but if it was revealed that the buying club was Burnley, our fans would quite rightly be up in arms that we were selling a striker to a relegation rival regardless of quality. So in that regard, this deal for Chris Wood could turn out to be a masterstroke.

To put the transfer into further perspective, not many people were over-enthused with the arrival of Daryl Murphy in 2016.

Nor the transfer of Leon Best in 2012.

Who would have thought in 2001 that Craig Bellamy would have the impact that he did for Sir Bobby Robson’s team, but he certainly revitalised Alan Shearer in particular.

Who celebrated the arrival of Antoine Sibierski?

Did everyone go out en masse and get Peter Lovenkrands printed on the back of their shirts?

In that regard, Chris Wood could join the list of “Cult Heroes” and players that “didn’t let the club down” and simply “did a job”.

I would also bring up the signing of Gavin Peacock in 1990 as a player that probably knew himself that the club were going to thank him for a job well done and move on as soon as promotion to the Premier League was achieved.

Another player to draw comparisons to is David Kelly. A player that was brought in to score goals (albeit at the lower second tier level) and then be sold on and replaced with better players as the club found their feet and improved. Kelly himself probably realised he wasn’t Premier League standard and dropped back into the league Newcastle had just got promoted from, joining Wolves. Before then helping the mackems to promotion, though playing only ten games that season due to promotion, then playing one season in the Premier League before once again dropping back down a division to Tranmere.

All the aforementioned players still came in and performed and if Chris Wood comes in and helps improve our goal tally, either by scoring them directly or assisting others, then he will have been a success.

Premier League survival is the name of the game and the only objective that should be in hearts and minds. Our priorities are very different now, compared to back when we signed many of those players I mentioned, but it sometimes only takes one transfer to kick things off or change a team’s fortunes for the better. At present, we need goals, goals from anywhere…and at the time of writing we have no recognised way of getting them until Callum Wilson returns, whenever that may be.

In the right here and right now, the signing of Chris Wood could save this club from relegation, or if the worst comes to the worst, he could be the ideal player to help us get back up. In that context he’s much like manager Eddie Howe in that many people were not over enthused with that particular appointment.

The job both have been tasked with is to avoid relegation. The ship needs steadying and while they are both at the club, they’ll get my full backing, for even the simple and more credible signings could in the short term, do an incredible job for this club.

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