Well, is anyone panicking yet?
With less than two weeks to go until the big kick off against West Ham and with not a soul through the door/over the line at St James Park, you have to wonder what sort of blind luck Steve Bruce, Lee Charnley and Mike Ashley are relying on this coming season?
As it looks like we’re going to be restricted heavily through the unreasonable paucity (tightness) of the owner, we need to be realistic and a decision needs to be made, as the squad needs strengthening badly.
Going into this season without Newcastle United signing any players is NOT an option and I remain unconvinced that any meaningful action is taking place.
Bruce can spout as much nonsense about “spinning plates” and things “bubbling away” or “bashing away” behind the scenes as much as he likes, but the amount of times he has pulled the wool over the fans eyes in the past (despite his protests to the contrary), fills me with zero confidence.
That he probably knows nowt about what is ACTUALLY going on with regards the transfer market is also something I’ll leave open for others to decide.
I’ve been long of the opinion that Steve Bruce is a manager that needs a constant stream of players coming through the door to have an instant initial impact on the team’s fortunes. This was highlighted by a journalist during his time with the mackems where he signed a large amount of players to mask over his obvious lack of coaching ability, then when things inevitably petered out further down the line, a further raft of signings were required. The journalist called this The Churn Effect and this is what a poor coach requires, as he has no other means of improving results until his inevitable sacking.
Look no further than last season. After having a small fortune afforded to him over the course of his transfer windows and infinitely more than his predecessor was given (Rafa Benitez was actually well in profit at one stage) the team was a shambles and required the influx of an excellent young lad from Arsenal and a new coach in Graeme Jones, to steady things. Quite what the point of keeping Bruce is I don’t know.
On the subject of the current squad, we are looking good in goal and we are decent enough at centre back with a bit of pace probably the only real cause for slight concern. Right side of defence is ok with options for playing either a flat back four or a wing back system. It’s across at left back/wing back that I have concerns.
In fact, I have big reservations about our left hand side from a defensive standpoint. I don’t have a problem with Jamal Lewis as I think he will become a decent player (under the right coach I might add) but he’s young and needs a season or two to get problems with his game ironed out. I don’t want to say that that left hand side is top priority but it should be very high on the list of things to be looked at.
If you’re playing two up front (which I would) then Callum Wilson and Dwight Gayle start all day long for me. I hear fans’ reservations about Gayle in particular not being prolific enough but I think as part of a two, he’s more than good enough. Quite why Steve Bruce praises him all the time and yet doesn’t play him is another mystery of the Head Coach’s bizarre and nonsensical verbal rhetoric.
Don’t get me wrong, this is not ideal, but that’s the state of play. I’d prefer to sign a better option to Gayle but that’s just not going to happen. They are the best two forwards we have and goalscorers cost mega bucks. I would however advocate getting a striker in (likely on loan) to cover any almost inevitable injury to Wilson. Over to the scouts. Let’s hope they find a better option than they did when they browsed Joelinton.
Back in the engine room of midfield is where our problems really lie and have done for a while. Isaac Hayden is fine from a defensive view but going forward we have precious little. Jonjo Shelvey on the other hand is a concern. He can pick a good pass (infrequently) but to use him as the basis of all our attacking play is leaving the team very one-dimensional. Less time spent on the golf course maybe? The folly of not playing both the Longstaff brothers more often last season to get them more experienced was negligent and now we are crying out for a midfielder that can both create and score goals.
So that’s three players required as a minimum and no money with which to do it. I personally would have replaced the Head Coach in the summer as the manager is the most important role to get right. A good one can work away with little funds and backing, a poor one needs constant talent coming in. It looks like this summer Bruce won’t even get that. So here comes my unwelcome solution to our problems and it may divide the room.
Bruce should contact Lee Charnley and Mike Ashley and tell them to sell Alain Saint-Maximin.
Now let me be clear, I wouldn’t want this to happen in an ideal world but if Mike Ashley is adamant that little or no money is going to be spent, then important decisions have to be made. Surely Ashley can’t object to money being spent if it’s part of players going out? Could he?
The move would actually make some sort of sense. Allan Saint-Maximin is in and out of the side for varying reasons and often doesn’t seem to feel comfortable under Bruce’s management, who would?
He has the odd flash of brilliance every now and then but I don’t find him to be as good as Miguel Almiron and I know which I’d rather sacrifice. Allan Saint-Maximin is a luxury we can’t afford under this regime and the set of circumstances it imposes on the team.
Let me be clear and refer you back to what I said at the start, we CAN’T go into this season with no signings.
Regardless of what I think of Bruce, he and the club need signings to keep the club afloat. I’m confident that with the influence of Graeme Jones and some moderate tactical input we’ll be fine but only IF signings are made. For that we need to sell our most saleable asset.
The sting in the tail would be the obvious…they sell Allan Saint-Maximin and then STILL not make a signing. I wouldn’t put that past this club at present but one thing is for sure, as thing stand, Steve Bruce with a whole raft of signings worries me. Steve Bruce with no signings terrifies me.