‘Please don’t tweet Mehrdad Ghodoussi or Jamie Reuben’
An Appraisal of January: Has it Really Been All That Bad with Newcastle United?
Who is furious with Newcastle’s January so far? I for one am not.
Obviously, it could have gone a lot better, but some of the vitriol I’ve seen / heard has been crazy.
People have been furious about the FA Cup exit, furious about the lack of transfers, furious we haven’t got a centre back yet, furious that we’ve got Chris Wood in and not been more ambitious, furious we’re not paying the extra £5m / £10m / £15m / £20m for players, furious with the board, furious that executive appointments haven’t been made yet, furious with this, furious with that.
It’s worth remembering where we are right now. We are a team and club that has suffered from massive underfunding and years of neglect. We are sat in the relegation zone.
The new owners have come in and in three and a half months have done a monumental amount already.
Yet some are already turning on our owners. Some are calling for Howe to be sacked already.
Who are we, Watford?
Some are even tweeting Mehrdad Ghodoussi and Jamie Reuben to vent their frustrations.
Let’s look at what has happened in January:
FA Cup Exit:
Disappointing to say the least. It was a bit of a no-win game really. Well… unless we’d won of course. I’ve heard people say we should have just played the kids seeing as we’d lost, but had we done that and lost, then that would have irritated people too. Howe went with a strong team, one that dominated and should have won. Unfortunately, we lost, but it served to highlight more than ever that we need an injection of quality during this window.
The way I see it, we were never going to win the FA Cup this year, so it doesn’t really matter what stage we went out in. A cup run would have been nice and winning does breed confidence, but we can focus on goal number one now.
Trippier is another level to what we’ve grown accustomed to seeing in black and white. We got him in early and he’s already showed what a quality acquisition he is.
Wood was twice the price and probably half as celebrated. However, he has weakened a relegation rival considerably. That same rival is potentially looking at Andy Carroll as the solution.
Whilst Carroll was adding just one goal to his Newcastle United account in his two seasons back at his boyhood club, Wood was notching up 26! I know who I’d rather have leading the line a relegation fight.
Lack of other Transfers:
This has been exasperating, especially when we appear to be on the verge of signing two million new players. Remember, we can only register 25. As ever, many of the links will be nonsense, many will have a bit of substance, whilst there will be a long list of actual targets being feverishly worked on.
It’s become quite frustrating having to refresh ‘Newcastle transfers’ in my Google search every hour to see if we’re any closer to one of our key targets. We’ve come from a world where the transfer window was the most feared time of the year as we anticipated our best players being snapped up, never to be replaced.
Now the only fear is that we won’t sign enough players. To really put in perspective the difference between this regime and the last one, the current one has made as many senior signings in a few weeks than the last one did in all of 2021 (that one being the same player twice).
I can’t even remember the last time I Googled ‘Newcastle transfers’ before the takeover.
We needed a centre back for Watford and we didn’t get one. Again, annoying, but not the debacle some wish to paint it as. Diego Carlos appears to be right there waiting to be pushed (forgive me) ‘over-the-line’. We haven’t agreed on a price though. Why should we pay more than what we believe to be a fair market rate? I’ll come onto this more in a moment.
A new centre back may have helped us see out that win. Alternatively, getting a new centre back, particularly one that has never played in our league and may not speak good English, and throwing them into a relegation six pointer, having barely trained with his new team, could have been cataclysmic and led to us losing the game. We will never know. However, if someone had offered me 4 points from Watford and Leeds I would have taken it.
No further new signings at all before this one. Fortunately, we managed to scrape a win, nonetheless.
The best thing about this game was the mentality once we’d taken the lead. Where we had gone into our shell against Watford, we went up a gear against Leeds. We were desperate not to concede at home to Watford but against Leeds we appeared desperate to put the game to bed and score another. How fitting that we kept throwing away leads until we played Leeds.
So how is January actually going?
I think pretty well. Unbeaten in the Premier League and back to within a point of safety. We have one fantastic signing in and an astute one who may prove extremely valuable as the season progresses.
We now have a week left of the transfer window and can seal the rest of the targets on our terms. We could have paid an extra ten million for Diego Carlos to ensure we got him in for Watford but what message does that send to all selling clubs. We look desperate, we look amateur, we look like we will pay whatever price is quoted.
Now we are in the driving seat. We want Diego Carlos, but we also have strong links to three or four other centre backs that we will turn to, if Sevilla refuse to sell. If we move on and take a couple of the other options Sevilla are left with a player upset at not getting his big money move, who turns 29 in March and will probably fetch them a smaller sum in the summer if they try and move him on then. I believe we hold the cards on this one.
Sven Botman looks a class act and maybe we would have got him if we’d paid £70m /80m. We aren’t in a position to be paying that amount on one player at this stage of our journey. We need multiple additions and FFP means that money is still an object even if the media make it sound like it isn’t. The reality is, £40m for a club with Lille’s financial concerns is huge. If we can’t land him for that, let that one go and come back in the summer. Personally, I think Botman could still be revisited again this window.
The owners are sending a clear message. We’ve got the money but you’re not going to rob us. The Chris Wood deal probably was slightly over the odds, but we triggered his release clause and it meant we could get a proven striker in quickly, which was what we’d been crying out for at the time.
Speaking of Mr Wood, let’s not write off our new striker two games into his career. Okay, his debut wasn’t the Mickey Quinn mega show that we may have prayed for. His return to Leeds didn’t see him batter his former club, but he is a Premier League striker, and he will offer us something different. When Wilson is back, they could potentially play together, or Wood could offer an alternative option either from the start or off the bench. We’ve lacked proper forward options for years and now we have that. It sounds like our spending on attackers may not be done yet either.
We have a full week to get players in and then another week, at least, of them training with their new teammates. It’s then two home games in a row against Everton and Aston Villa. Not a bad pair of fixtures to introduce the fresh blood to St James’ Park.
I think we will still sign at least another four players before the window closes, maybe a couple of those on loan. For now, let’s appreciate the fact that people want to talk about us. Let’s enjoy that we are being linked with big names rather than desperately haggling over the loan fee for Hamza Choudhury. Let’s turn on Sky Sports News on deadline day and watch with excitement rather than trepidation.
And please, if things aren’t going as well as you’d like, don’t tweet Mehrdad Ghodoussi or Jamie Reuben. They are here to make our club something worth supporting again.
You can follow the author on Twitter @billymerlin
If you would like to feature on The Mag, submit your article to [email protected]