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Opinion

Definitely don’t want Newcastle United to be another Everton

4 weeks ago
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Everton have all sorts of problems.

Indeed, arguably the manager and players are possibly the least of their worries.

Looking from a distance, Everton are most definitely a club that I don’t want Newcastle United turning into.

Leaving gratuitous insults aside for once, with regard to their fans, I am talking about the club’s owners and how they have ran the club.

With Mike Ashley as owner at St James’ Park, I would look with envy at the ambition shown at Goodison Park in transfer window after transfer window.

The Everton owners doing their very best to make a quantum leap into the top six or even top four, via spending serious amounts of money.

The overall level of spending and individual transfer fees were often eyewatering, though it was more eye rubbing in disbelief at the identity of the actual players that the blue scousers were actually buying.

So much money spent on so many players, with so much of it seemingly wasted.

Everton spent well over half a billion pounds in the five seasons (2016/17 to 2020/21)  that followed the current ownership taking over, yet that spending only equalled seventh, eighth, eighth, twelfth and tenth in terms of league placings.

What went on in those five years of mostly reckless spending, created two big problems.

Firstly, a load of money wasted on transfer fees and wages, leaving Everton with a worst team / squad than when the owners had taken control in 2016.

Secondly, the levels of spending compared to actual revenues in that time, left Everton’s owners in a position whereby even if they wanted to keep ploughing money into new signings, they couldn’t, with FFP (Financial Fair Play) finally impacting. To be fair, they’d had an incredibly good run of it and quite astonishing that, at least so far, they have ducked any proper punishment for ‘bending’ FFP rules.

However, what it did mean, was that when Rafa Benitez came in a year ago, he had zero budget to spend on players. Even by the end of the season the transfer spending was minimal for Everton in 2021/22, basically selling their left-back in January and using that cash to buy another one, actually making a profit on the season of around £6m.

Everton were so lucky to avoid relegation last season and yet now in summer 2022, they are one of only three clubs not to have bought a single player. Only Tarkowski arriving on a free transfer, even though they have seen six players leave, a serious amount knocked off their wage bill with high earners at the end of contracts, plus some £52m received for Richarlison.

That sale not even to release funds to buy, instead widely reported that it was essential before the end of June 2022 for FPP purposes, to help Everton avoid punishment.

From the outside looking in, despite all that money spent on players, Everton look very likely to be heading for another relegation battle and despite all that money spent in recent times, they have very few players that anybody else would be interested in.

Which brings me to Newcastle United.

Despite some £160m spent on signings in 2022, many people are thinking it is essential that some more serious money is spent in the remainder of this transfer window.

I do think money will be spent and I am sure the club’s owners accept this has to happen, at least ideally anyway, ahead of the new season. One or two attacking players needed, as Eddie Howe has publicly said, indeed one of those would have already arrived if Hugo Ekitike had agreed to come.

However, I think that there is a massive danger of Newcastle United swiftly getting into serious problems, if wrong moves are taken.

A fair few fans are of the opinion that the Newcastle owners should just pay whatever it takes, in transfer fees and wages, to get a couple of ambitious attacking signings in.

However, if we are suddenly looking at £250m-£300m already spent on signings within a year of the NUFC owners coming in, plus smashing the current wage structure at St James’ Park, you are leaving yourself wide open.

Thankfully, the NUFC owners and the key people (Howe, Ashworth and now Eales) they are employing, are keeping it real. Showing a lot of ambition but not riding into toon and spending money recklessly.

If that happened and especially if they spent big on the wrong players (the media would love it if Newcastle were spending massive money on ‘name’ players towards the end of their careers), things could unravel very quickly.

Bad luck tends to go hand in hand with bad decisions, so imagine poor big money signings made and then key injuries happening as well. If struggling to compete in the Premier League, then one route to go down could be then spending more chunks of cash on other ‘name’ players to try and correct the situation.

Even if the NUFC owners wanted to keep putting the money in, they could very soon find FFP limitations paralysing the club’s transfer spending, as happened at Everton.

I think the £160m spent so far in 2022 has made massive positive changes and progress possible, now some more ‘sensible’ spending in these remaining weeks of the transfer window could bring in those couple of attacking players.

However, it is vital that Newcastle United do ensure they have plenty leeway in future windows, the flexibility to be able to make big signings if they become available, such as another Bruno G for example.

I look at January 2023 and I think if NUFC are doing well, the owners could well release more money to bring in a player or two to help attack the second half of the season.

Newcastle United were never going to be reinvented in a year, a couple of transfer windows, this is a long-term project, but one where great strides have been made already.

Patience and common sense are needed and if you ever doubt that, just have a look over at Everton.

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