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Opinion

‘Why Newcastle United are struggling to recruit…’

3 weeks ago
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If, like me, patience is not really the bag that you’re into, then this Newcastle United transfer window will really be doing your head in.

I don’t want to rake over the old “it’s not London”, and “it’s too cold!” excuses again, but I really did expect players to be arriving a little faster than they are.

I actually see Newcastle United as a better opportunity than the likes of Chelsea, City, Liverpool etc.

Let’s be honest, any half decent player could walk into one of those teams, sit on the bench for most of the season, and end up with a trophy, being just another tiny cog in a large, established, commercial machine. The fans would hardly know their name and would hardly recognise them on the street.

Coming to the Toon, however, and being part of that squad that gets this great club back into Europe, and wins our first real trophy in fifty odd years – that’s an achievement! That’s how you become a legend, loved by the most football daft fans on the planet.

So why are they not banging on the gates of SJP to join this particular crusade?

Billy Connolly, in his heyday, told us that he never argued about whether or not religions existed, because, he thought that by definition, if someone believes in a religion, it has to exist, because that’s what a religion is – belief, and I have to say I feel the same way about those pros-turned-pundits who insist that up north is just not as attractive as some of the options “darn sarf!”

As ex-pros, if it’s in their heads that it’s a problem, then surely it’s a problem? It doesn’t matter whether that former player is Andy Gray, Agbonlahor, or any of the dozen others who claim it, it’s a problem. OK, they probably would never have been invited to the party anyway, but that’s not the point. Now, whether or not their opinions are based in solid fact, well that’s an entirely different matter, but don’t get me started on that one.

Anyway, I don’t think that’s the reason that we are so slow out the blocks this summer.

I reckon it’s the money. Not this imaginary “Newcastle Tax” that some insist we are being hit with. That makes no sense. The prices being quoted this summer are just plain outrageous no matter who asks, and when you look at where players are going, and the prices they are going for, it’s got nowt to do with our new found riches.

Some players are chasing guaranteed European football. Not the possibility of it. So that’s the cream off the top straight away.

Some players are after bigger salaries and I doubt that we are offering anywhere near top dollar. Obviously we can’t just bring these new players in on City-sized wages and have the likes of Maxi and Shelvey up in arms. That wouldn’t really do much for Howe’s efforts to keep the dressing room together, now, would it? That’s another layer off the top, so we’re already having to aim halfway down the list.

However, the big hurdle is Financial Fair Play.

People have said previously on The Mag that the only way to get ahead of the game without falling foul of the FFP militia is by buying players on instalments, exactly the same way you bought that dodgy suit from Top Shop all those years ago. And in the same way that you kept your mother from going ballistic by telling her it only cost you four quid a month, FFP are happy to be told that, while the papers may insist that we paid 45 million for a striker, there’s only 15 million coming out the bank this year, and here’s the paperwork to prove it.

Of course, if you tell a club that you want to deprive them of their star centre-forward, and you want him on tick, they are going to jack up the price to cover their lost interest and their lost spending power, that’s not a Toon Tax, that’s just business.

We have read stories that we intend to take advantage of various European clubs’ financial woes, but the cash these clubs need, isn’t needed in the form of three annual instalments. They need the lot and they need it now.

However, we can’t do that with FFP looking over our shoulder, and considering the stick we got from various quarters about our new owners, you can guarantee that FFP will be getting similar levels of stick to keep an eye on our spending.

While it’s pretty standard business practisc, what I wasn’t expecting was to read that we’d taken Nick Pope on instalments. The wealthiest club in the world has bought an 11 million quid player and asked for terms? Well I suppose every little bit helps

We are still on the tail end of a COVID crunch and I suspect that despite all the previous hype, clubs are still happy to do business with us. That said, many are still feeling the pinch and are looking for a larger cash injection to keep them going.

Oh well, let’s see what the next couple of weeks brings us. I try to ignore a lot of what the papers peddle during the window but this talk of Howe settling for what he’s already got up front is scary stuff.

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