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Opinion

What if the incoming Newcastle United signings are now finished?

4 weeks ago
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Now that the transfer window is well underway and Newcastle United are sailing on into this new dawn of ambition and above all else, professionalism, compared to recent years. I have to say, confidence that the club is being run correctly is my overriding positive this summer.

Even since the curtain came down on last season, a classic season of two halves if ever there was one, I have always remained confident that the owners would back Manager Eddie Howe, with both funds and resources to get the club through next season, not just unscathed, but to kick on from last season’s impressive finish.

The money has been available and so too has been the wherewithal to appoint Darren Eales as CEO, to add to Dan Ashworth as Director. It certainly knocks the socks off Lee Charnley and Derek Llambias.

However, I have a question to ask with regards to recruitment.

Let’s play a sort of Devils Advocate.

What if the incoming Newcastle United signings are now finished? That’s it.

It wouldn’t be ideal for any fan and I’m sure many would have mixed feelings of caution, fear and unhappiness at the final outcome of signings, but I can’t say I’d be one of them. As it stands, I’m actually fairly content with what we have got to go with this season.

Now those of you that haven’t collapsed to the floor with either bemusement, or muffled anger and shock, will have to admit that Eddie Howe has a pretty good and well balanced squad at his disposal.

We have gone out and bought a very good goalkeeper in Nick Pope to really put pressure on Martin Dubravka. MDubz still edges it for me as first choice against Nottingham Forrest but I understand he has weaknesses and that wasn’t being capitalised on by Karl Darlow. Now it will by Pope.

The back line has a wealth of ability with Sven Botman coming in and adding another beast of a centre back to go with Big Dan Burn. Imagine them two coming up for attacking corners? That’s assuming that Fabian Schar isn’t used as a tidier distributer of the ball from the back. Then we have club Captain Jamaal Lascelles as 3rd  /4th choice. Read that back – Jamaal Lascelles is now 3rd / 4th choice in our defensive centre half pairing. Boy have we come a long way in terms of quality selection since the new owners and Howe have arrived.

Out on the flanks we have the excellent Kieren Trippier on the right and the now permanent signing of Matt Targett at left back. Javier Manquillo can play both sides in an emergency and Emil Krafth didn’t let us down at the back end of last season. Paul Dummett’s long term fitness is a worry and his contract extension was a strange one for me. Then there’s also Jamal Lewis to factor in.

The midfield, a source of contention with me over the years, is now looking well stocked. The impressive Bruno Guimaraes has been impeccable since coming in and has more than complemented the ever impressive revelation that is Joelinton. Jonjo Shelvey has come back this summer looking trim and I’d have no problem with him getting the contract extension that he is reportedly about to trigger. Joe Willock is good when part of a middle three and in those four, we have goals as well.

Further forward, I’ll be interested to see what effect a good pre-season has on Miguel Almiron, as I believe he has more to offer and shouldn’t be simply written off as some seem to be happy doing. Ryan Fraser is another who will benefit from some good pre-season fitness work. Jacob Murphy looks to be the weak link of the wide attacking players and if the books need balancing or the squad needs trimming, he’d be the one I’d sacrifice. No problems with the lad and I’d happily retain him, but if progress is to be made, he’d go with my best wishes.

That brings us on to the enigma that is Allan Saint-Maximin. He’s an asset when going forward, albeit an erratic one. You wouldn’t want to lose your best players but I’m hoping Howe and his team can iron out the Frenchman’s flaws and turn a good player on his day, into a top Premier League performer, one that would quite rightly attract unwanted interest from other clubs.

Finally, we enter the most controversial of topics. One that causes the casual fan to delve into their toybox and dig out their tin helmet for the barrage of slings and arrows that will come flying their way, the subject of Callum Wilson and Chris Wood. I’ll state now, if we go into the season with just these two as striker options (bearing in mind Howe only ever plays one), I’ll be quite happy.

There you go, I’ve said it. I’ll be happy with Wilson and Wood as our two strikers this season. Ok, there’s a caveat to that statement. That’s based on Callum Wilson benefiting from a good pre-season and playing more games with improved fitness but that is something I believe he will do this season.

I also believe that Chris Wood will get more goals this season. He came in and did a job last term and held the fort until Wilson came back and scored the goals that grabbed the headlines but it was Wood that was present during our great unbeaten run when Wilson was not. That can’t be overlooked, even though it is by some and I for one can’t fathom out the criticism. I’ll further state that I believe he will get around 10 goals in all competitions this season.

This season, when we are leading and comfortable in games, Wilson will be withdrawn to preserve his fitness. He shouldn’t be played in cup games and this is where Wood comes in. If we were going to play two strikers, then absolutely we MUST sign another, but Eddie Howe doesn’t do that.

I wouldn’t want, nor expect the club, to go out a buy / loan a striker just for the hell of it, although my choice of Emmanuel Dennis from Watford would be ideal if we want to sign one to tide us over for a season or two, until the right target appears and becomes available.

For the record, I fully expect another signing before the season starts and certainly before the close of the transfer window. If that means signing more strength out wide rather than striker then fine, but I will reiterate, if this is it, whilst I wouldn’t be dancing in the street at our business, I’ll be more than content with what we have got and with Eddie Howe seeing us through to a pretty good season.

Rome wasn’t built in a day but from where we were 12 months ago, we are more than ready to look forward to a more positive season ahead, looking up the table as a progressive and above all REALISTIC target as apposed to being grateful just to be outside the relegation zone under the previous regime.

And that’s even if what we have is the close of business as we stand right now.

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