‘Newcastle United owners could choose to capitalise by releasing a bit more cash’
I have to say, I was really pleased with NUFC’s first transfer deadline progress this summer, the activity from the Newcastle United owners and Eddie Howe.
My way of looking at it, see, is that there are three deadlines to aim for this summer and the first one was reached a couple of weeks ago, when the full squad returned for pre-season training, including the internationals arriving slightly later after the seemingly infinite boredom of the Nations League.
Reporting back that day, United had resolved the left back situation with the permanent acquisition of Matt Targett and strengthened the defence with the addition of Pope and the successful conclusion to the long-running Botman saga. Bosh, in for a full pre-season, stronger squad, full fitness and surely an improvement on an already solid defence.
Of course though, there are other, more pressing problems. In the recent defeat to Mainz, the lack of attacking threat showed itself up, with failures to create and convert causing a trademark NUFC Twitter meltdown. A sense that Ekitike’s snub to join PSG has derailed plans to add a striker while various wide targets are repeatedly reported as being out of price range, has not sat well with many. However, it is worth bearing in mind that there is still some time to go until transfer deadline #2 – the Nottingham Forest game.
If I can just segway off for a second, I want to go on record as saying that Forest are a bad opponent for the opening game. Despite their illustrious history, they are still the Championship play-off winners and, on paper, the weakest opponent in the league. Starting with the most winnable game is not ideal, as it can only meet expectations or disappoint, but furthermore there are several examples of promoted teams bringing the momentum from their previous season with them to start well in the Premier, thriving on adrenalin and a sense of occasion. I still think we’ll have enough to beat them, but it might be a lot tighter, than if this game was in February or March.
Anyway, back to deadline number two.
I don’t think it’s wrong to say that the Newcastle team that finished last season looked great, with Callum Wilson firing up front. The major concern is obviously Wilson’s injury record threatens to leave us light in attack, and I would consider it unlikely, that the amount of tight wins produced in his absence in the second half of last season could be repeated. This is exacerbated by a lack of service, with the right flank being the weak link. Insert some danger there and it may lead to creativity on both sides, with Saint-Maximin potentially less strictly marshalled on the left.
It would help the cause immensely if one of these issues was to be addressed ahead of opening day. As I’ve said, our strong first XI should have enough to edge Forest, and would travel to Brighton with hope against a side in a degree of transition, that stuttered a lot at home last year. Both prospects would be improved by bolstering that attack, but the critical focus for me has to be getting someone settled into the squad in time for game number three, which could be colossal.
If we can beat Forest and Brighton, the match with Man City represents a chance to show real intent. A bit of momentum and a home game to test our side against the most dominant side in recent history, hopefully before they’ve fully adapted to Haaland, Phillips and whoever else they throw billions at before the end of August. To get anything off such a stellar team would require everything firing in our favour, which would most likely involve a bit more invention in attack. There are rumours that United are struggling with the options of going in big on a single signing, or trying to find two good options within the budget of around £50 million that remains. I would hope that a decision has been made by the time this game comes around, as a spectacular start to the season could set us up for the obvious third deadline, the real one, when the window closes on September 1st.
If we do bite the bullet and splash out though, there’ll be nothing left to spend in this final bit of window, although the loan market could well be utilised. There are surely ways to stretch it a bit though and I have a starter for ten on how to do that: sell Almiron.
There will be a couple of camps on the question of jettisoning Miggy. Some fans have not yet adjusted to our new upwardly mobile status (I recently saw an online protest about people favouring Trippier as captain, as it was disrespectful to Lascelles after everything he’s put into the club) and people who can see the need to constantly improve. When Almiron signed he was representative of something good. Decent money finally being spent, an indication that Rafa would have his way and we could build up to something better in spite of the previous ownership. In fact, Rafa left, the rebuild has accelerated pace under new owners and Miggy… well, he has never really excelled at Newcastle.
Many opinions will be out there that both Murphy and Fraser need to be upgraded ASAP, but both contributed more end product than Almiron last year, with Fraser scoring two and assisting three. Whilst Murphy scored once and assisted twice and both playing around 300 minutes less than Miggy, who returned one goal and zero assists. The fact that the goal in question was the worldie that beat Crystal Palace probably doesn’t strengthen the argument, as worldies look great but happen rarely. We need goals quite often. While the other two have issues with finishing, they at least get their shots off and crosses in. If we’re honest, a lot of Miggy’s runs end in either lost possession, free kicks or dives that the ref refuses to give as free kicks.
Finally, the main reason I’m picking on Almiron is that I think he could fetch a reasonable fee. If we could get in 10 million for him and get a right winger for around 40, that leaves 20 in the budget. Which brings me back to the phases of the transfer window.
If we enter phase three having started well, there’s every chance the Newcastle United owners choose to capitalise by releasing a bit more cash.
See, FFP works over three years and the idea is not to blow too much, too soon, but if we’re threatening a serious tilt at the Champions League spots (I’ve said previously how the exhaustive European campaigns of other clubs could favour us across the autumn) then they might think it prudent to release another 20 million or so to get in the fella who can help secure it.
There’s a lot of teeth gnashing about all this that I am sure is reactionary, perhaps a sign of scars of previous neglect that has seen us enter the season looking lightweight. I’m confident that with the calibre of people we now have running the show, the necessary will be done and the season will be a cracker. It’s just that if all goes according to plan next month, it could be truly outstanding. It’s tough, but let’s watch and see.
Oh, and stop tweeting the Newcastle United owners.
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