In 23 days time the summer transfer window opens for Newcastle United.
The Premier League having confirmed earlier this month that the window will open for 12 weeks from 9 June and will close at 11pm on 31 August.
At one time an approaching transfer window would fill you with hope and expectation of what was to come.
However, as we all know, hope at Newcastle United under Mike Ashley barely registers after 14 years of his appalling club ownership, whilst when it comes to expectation…
This Newcastle United season has been…interesting.
A sense that the players surely can’t be as bad as Steve Bruce has made them look for the vast majority of this campaign, with a number of individuals indicating occasionally in matches that under a better manager they could be capable of a lot more.
However, there are quite clearly still severe weaknesses in the team / squad that need to be addressed in this upcoming Newcastle United summer transfer window. That would be the case even if a quality manager was brought in, whilst if we are once again stuck with Steve Bruce, it is even more essential to have some better quality players added to guard against him having another go at relegating us.
We are getting a lot of the usual nonsense from the media putting forward any number of possible signings, the vast majority of it simply copy and pasting fantasy stuff that appears in the gutter press / media in the likes of Turkey, Portugal, France, Italy, wherever…
However, there is one constant theme from the journalists and papers, especially the local ones, which is that Mike Ashley is set to allow only minimal spending in this summer 2021 window. The consensus amongst the media is overwhelming and I do believe in this case that the information is good, what they are being told by whoever, does ring true.
Much talk is of possible free transfer signings and the media, particularly local, reporting on this as so it is some brilliant idea that nobody else has heard of. That picking up players with no transfer fee attached is some superb cunning plan from Mike Ashley and his minions.
Under Ashley in recent years, we have seen a massive shift away from an extreme of only allowing younger players to be bought as part of a longer-term plan of getting value from them on the pitch before hopefully (for Mike Ashley) selling them on for far more.
Instead, and very much accelerated once Ashley got Steve Bruce in as his latest patsy, it is all short-termism.
Of the 14 senior signings since Bruce arrived, nine of them have been frees or loans.
The media, especially local, make out that this has been some great success story and so when it comes to talking of more free transfer in particular, they report on it as a positive strategy.
People end up on free transfers usually for a limited number of reasons. Some of them are simply old, others are knackered and have a desperate injury record, many are just not very good, a lot of them might be a mixture or two or all three of the above. Whilst you then have those of generally bad character who work the system and cynically run their contracts down, to ensure they get far bigger wages whilst their club gets absolutely no compensation when they lose them. This last category I would always be 100% wary of, as a Leopard very definitely change its spots, if they have been willing to do the dirty on their previous club, then I don’t see how they magically become a decent character just because your club has signed them!
So what about Mike Ashley and Steve Bruce’s ‘bargains’?
Andy Carroll – Total waste of time, has now scored one Premier League goal these last 37 months. I couldn’t believe he was given that initial one year deal and as for giving him another year…
Jeff Hendrick – Woeful. The worst player in Newcastle’s first team squad for me, offers absolutely nothing and to think he got a four year contract!
Ryan Fraser – He has a five year one on massively inflated wages due to his free ‘bargain’ status. A complete waste of time so far, he has now scored only one PL goal these past 25 months and none so far for Newcastle. By totally messing Bournemouth around to then leave for nothing, he has also it appears messed his playing career up. So little football for so long seeing him struggle even for fitness this season and when playing offering so little. Doesn’t look happy here for me for whatever reasons and can’t see it ending well.
With loans as well it is rarely ever a positive. Rose and especially Bentaleb were terrible last season, whilst Bruce didn’t even give Lazaro a proper chance, suggesting the Head Coach has minimal, if any, say in which players are signed and moved on.
Jetro Willems impressed many Newcastle fans with his ability going forward from wing-back but his defending was terrible over the course of 18 starts before injury. Personally, I don’t think he can play that position in the Premier League as he would get far too exposed.
Joe Willock of course the exception amongst the frees and loans BUT then we stand zero chance of signing him, in my opinion. Mike Ashley declined to ensure a buying clause of maybe £10m – £15m maximum, absolutely no chance he would even allow £30m+ bids now that Willock has shown some dynamic play and pace, as well as most importantly being able to score for fun from midfield. That is of course before we even consider Arsenal maybe giving him a chance and / or the queue of other ambitious clubs that would definitely be making a move for the 21 year old.
Everything, including the media whispers, points to Mike Ashley almost certainly making recruitment even more reliant on free transfers and loans this summer.
This doesn’t open up an exciting window of opportunity for brilliant signings with no transfer fees as the media like to portray it, instead, the overwhelming majority are just inheriting another club’s problems. Some fans easily get sold on it as well and for example many would blindly welcome Jetro Willems back as a supposedly no-brainer brilliant free transfer signing this summer. He seems a canny lad and all that but reality is he hasn’t played a minute of first team football since his NUFC injury over 16 months ago, Eintracht Frankfurt not playing him at all even though he has made the bench 12 times recently.
The real disaster scenario of course is that as well as the above bargain bin hunting scenario, Mike Ashley then gets serious offers on our very small group of key players, the likes of Dubravka, ASM and Wilson. It is one thing these players saying they love it at Newcastle etc etc BUT once a serious bid does go in, then that is a very different scenario.
We of course know just how valuable and irreplaceable Martin Dubravka is BUT if Ashley was offered £15m-£20m for a 32 year old and with the likes of Darlow and Woodman as alternatives, would he say no? Indeed, if Dubravka was approached by an ambitious club, would he really dismiss it, knowing he has only so many years left to really succeed at the top?
When you have a club that is ran with absolutely no ambition, you are always going to be at risk if clubs come in for your very best players.
I’m sorry but I’m not looking forward to this upcoming transfer window, unless of course we get that elusive takeover…dream on.