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    ‘My Newcastle United Vision – The Next Steps’

    For what feels like an eternity, I have been constantly playing scenarios in my head of how I wish Newcastle United were run.

    Finally, through the sale of the club, we have hope again and I thought it would be the perfect time to put my vision into words.

    Here is my version of how the next few years will ideally play out under our new owners…

    Training Ground

    A nice and easy one to begin with. Simply put, our training ground is a shambles.

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    Did I read over the summer about the players praising York’s training facilities during pre-season? Surely not. Then there are the infamous photos from a few years back of our players cramped into wheelie bins and children’s paddling pools for ice baths. Does anyone wonder why our injury record has been so poor over the years?!

    Recently, Leicester and Spurs have opened fantastic new training facilities. I remember seeing the Leicester training ground announcement on twitter and was just hit with a wave of jealousy and awe. I mean look at it!

    I don’t see see any reason why we shouldn’t be matching that. Let’s get construction started ASAP so the training ground is ready for a likely busy pre-season.

    A Director of Football

    I would love for us to take the approach of appointing a top director before a manager.

    The positions must work cohesively – a great example of this not working is the Van De Beek and Manchester United situation, where a promising player has been shunned and is clearly not the manager’s cup of tea. I can’t see us appointing a proper manager until the end of the season so it’s important we start building a plan for the future under a director that knows the game inside out. The opposite of when Lee Charnley had the job of appointing a new manager (who I must say has to be worst MD in the history of football) and claimed to have done an extensive search across the whole of Europe, only to end up deciding Teesside based out of work Steve McClaren was the perfect fit!

    We’ve been linked recently with two high profile and successful options as director of football in Luis Campos and Ralf Ragnick, I’m ecstatic with the thought of either. Before rumours began, I had been envisaging Ragnick being in the club and he would firmly be my number one choice. The empire he helped build at Red Bull is phenomenal – they must have the best scouting network in the world (ever heard of Mane or Haaland?). I’ve been fascinated with the RB project for years now. A huge number of very young footballers with high potential sign for RB Salzburg, or even FC Liefering, essentially RB Salzburg’s feeder team in the Austrian second Bundesliga, before making the step up to Salzburg.

    Although playing in an uncompetitive league, the players get to showcase their talents on the World’s biggest stage in Europe consistently, in either the UCL or UEL at such a young age. They then mainly inevitably transfer over to Leipzig to play at a higher level in the German Bundesliga. What I love most about the RB blueprint is that every manager they hire for their clubs all fit in with their high pressing, attacking philosophy. This ensures the players are ready for the step up to top teams – it’s no wonder Mane’s workrate is phenomenal and how important he is for Liverpool when he’s had this drilled into him right at the beginning of his career.

    Why am I rambling on about Red Bull? Well under Ragnick I can imagine replicating a huge scouting network, unearthing little gems for our youth teams with young managers developing them under the same playing style as our first team. As previously mentioned, this would hopefully give the chance of young players making that step up to our first seam seamlessly.

    Seeing Armstrong and Toney prosper in the Premier League is quite tough to swallow currently. I’d also like to think that an increased focus on our youth teams would help develop and encourage more local talent coming through the ranks, especially if they are training alongside better players. I would say getting the right director onboard could be our most important decision the new owners make – for me Ragnick is perfect.

    Manager 

    Has Bruce gone yet?

    I’m writing this the Monday evening after a very poor and deserved loss to Spurs, I can’t believe he’s not gone yet. I’m not going to go into Bruce at all as it’s all rather depressing and just want to focus on the future.

    As mentioned earlier, I think it would be sensible for us to appoint a caretaker to the end of the season. We’ve been linked with countless managers already, all of whom are probably an improvement on what we have currently.

    The top two in the running as of writing this are Lucien Favre and Frank Lampard. Lampard’s record at Chelsea looks particularly poor considering what an incredible job Tuchel has instantly done. I still think he’d certainly get us playing better football so wouldn’t be the worst result, but hardly inspiring. Lucien Favre would be my realistic preferred choice.

    He’s managed some great Bundesliga clubs in his time and actually has a decent record with an overall win percentage at 49.19%. Favre also has experience fighting relegation!! (Don’t let Jim White tell you otherwise).

    He was recently very close to joining Palace as manager and I know from one Palace supporter I follow on twitter (@HLTCO – well worth a follow btw, always nails it on footballing issues and even on Newcastle) was gutted they didn’t get Favre over the line. I’d be happy getting Favre in for the remainder of the campaign – but who do I want as the full time Newcastle manager for 2022/23?

    For me, there is one clear choice that would bring a completely different style of football to what we’ve ever seen before to St James Park. Graham Potter. Whilst some may want the headline manager in your Conte bracket, I’m not sure we’ll be in a position for quite a while to attract such a high calibre manager to deliver us trophies. However, Potter in tandem with Ragnick is mouthwatering for me. For me the thought of us going toe to toe with the best teams in the league is all I’ve ever wanted as a Newcastle fan and Potter would certainly bring that. I’m not sure their league positions over the last couple of seasons paint a true picture at all because reality is, Brighton should have won far more games. I always wonder how many a fit Calum Wilson could get up top for Brighton – 20, 25, 30?

    Graham PotterWhilst points are ultimately the most important statistic in football, you can’t ignore the phenomenon of xG, where Brighton constantly feature after somehow failing to win matches after spurning countless chances. FWIW, Newcastle are 20th on that statistic (expected goals) under Bruce’s tenure… I watched Brighton the other day against Arsenal and was blown away with the football they played in the first half, it was just scintillating. I’m absolutely sure that under Potter with some good recruitment we could be in the top six by his third season, which in my opinion, would be fantastic. It’s no coincidence Pep raves about Potter – I’m sure when his contract with City ends, he’ll be recommending they get Potter in there. It’s only a matter of time before he gets a big move so let’s act swiftly!

    Transfers 

    A huge number of players out there could be included but the following players are the sort of calibre I’d like to see arrive over the next few windows.

    Firstly though, I just want to highlight my ideal transfer philosophy, which I’m sure a large number of people might well disagree with. Being linked with world class players is lovely but I just don’t think we’ll be in a position to attract those for a while, so I’m not going to bother mentioning the likes of Mbappe… I’m also very much against us setting a precedent of offering players astronomical wages and creating an unsustainable ecosystem right at the beginning of our journey.

    We know Newcastle United are going to get inundated with agents offering up their players whilst eyeing up huge cuts for themselves. Agents have too much power and money in the game as it is, so we need to be wary of this in January. Players such as Coutinho (possibly also half of Barca’s team), Martial and others will no doubt be offered to us, but these sort of fringe players of big clubs that are already on huge salaries and not the youngest in footballing terms, are again not what I personally want. Yes, some big names may help us attract better players but I’m looking at a four year project here with young players that want to play for us and represent the club, not using us to get back in the shop window. Of course, if it comes to January and we are in all sorts, then this might need re-evaluating… But as it stands, here are my ins and outs below:

    Ins – (Market value as per Transfermarkt)

    Karim Adeyemi, RB Salzburg, £18m

    Currently linked with Liverpool and Bayern Munich, this whizz kid could be the next German superstar. Salzburg always sell their players cheaply considering the potential, so we could have a shot if we went in sooner rather than later. He’s lit up the Champions League so far, winning a ridiculous number of penalties already with his trickery. This may have to be done in January to have any chance, as I see him moving on in the summer.

    Connor Gallagher, Chelsea, £13.5m

    Slightly closer to home, I’ve been so impressed with Gallagher on loan at both WBA and now Palace.

    For me our midfield is the weakest area in the team (pundits are stating it’s actually our defence, yet under Rafa it was the seventh best in the league, plus Steve Bruce had our two best defenders sat on the bench against Spurs). We hardly have any footballers that can receive the ball under pressure, control the tempo of a game and pick a pass. Gallagher’s work rate is also immense (critical for the style under Potter) and has a goal threat to him. He’s my number one target in the summer once his loan spell ends with Palace.

    Alexander Isak, Real Sociedad, £40m

    If you love ASM, you’ll love this guy, the thought of them playing together is mouthwatering. He’s incredibly skilful, fearless and direct. I’m sure he’s destined to play at the top top level. Sociedad play lovely footy as well so would fit in seamlessly with my hopeful change of style.

    James Justin, Leicester, £15.3m

    Could be a stretch to see Leicester let him go, this is more for a couple of seasons down the line. I think he looks a top player, is fast, strong and more importantly, he’s both good forward and defensively.

    Amadou Haidara, RB Leipzig, £21.6m

    Another RB player unsurprisingly, but he’s always caught my eye, very good on the ball, a good box to box player (idolises Stevie G) and would be a great in the midfield three.

    Oliver Skipp, Spurs, £13.5m

    Doubtful Spurs would let him go as he’s just starting to get in their team but he’s the sort of player to sit deeper in that midfield three, is great at receiving the ball under pressure and can pick the pass between the lines (something we do little of). I’m sure there are more realistic candidates out there but he’s the type of player I want at DM.

    Donny Van De Beek, Manchester United, £22.5m

    Get him on loan in January, no brainer. Clearly got talent but has looked average in his limited time under Ole. I’m sure a new environment and backing from a different manager could get him back on the right track, you don’t impress that much for no reason at Ajax. I’d also actually take Lingard on loan if not.

    Edmond Tapsoba, Bayer Leverkusen, £36m

    Remember watching lots of Bundesliga during Lockdown one and was impressed by this CB. I still think in Schar and Fernandez we have two decent CBs but could certainly do with a younger CB coming through with some pace. A common theme with all our CBs is the lack of pace.

    Outs

    Jonjo Shelvey, £11.7m (lol)

    Couldn’t think of a player less suited to a high pressing, front foot game. His red card on Sunday was embarrassing.

    Jonjo ShelveyIsaac Hayden, £9m

    Big fan of the guy personally but not sure he offers too much and his distribution just isn’t up to scratch.

    I think we could make way for some better players, with the Longstaffs and Willock to compete for midfield spots with the signings I’ve mentioned above.

    Matt Richie, £2.7m

    Love his passion but he’s a RW turned LWB turned LB currently, surely Dummett is a safer option currently with our defence so leaky. I’d be interested to see Jamaal Lewis back in the team under a better manager, I’m sure he’s got something about him.

    Joelinton, £15.3m

    I think he’s probably been one of our better players recently but simply has no drive to put the ball in the back of the net.

    I’d try get some money back for him as we’ll need to get some revenue from transfers out.

    Dwight Gayle, £3.6m

    One of those players that is too good for the Championship but not good enough for the Premiership. Can’t believe he got offered a new contract when he never plays.

    Karl Darlow, £2.7m

    A great shot stopper but his distribution is so poor and I never feel like he commands the area very well. We have so many keepers at the club, I think we should probably try get some money for him and let Woodman and Max Thompson step up in the future.

    Ryan Fraser, £9m

    Just baffled, as he seems to be fit and plays so much for Scotland and yet never for us. His transfer has been completely pointless so far, may as well just cut our losses here.

    And there you have it!

    It’s nice to be able to dream about these sorts of things now. I’m sure there will be plenty of mistakes made and I’m not expecting instant success but it’s critical we get some people into the club ASAP that know what they are doing!

    Hope you enjoyed my run down.

    HWTL.

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