Is the situation at St James Park the most worrying of the 20 Premier League outfits this summer?
If there is talk crisis at Arsenal because of a lack of summer signings, and if there is an air of uneasiness at Manchester United, because of a lack of summer signings and the inexperience of their new manager and CEO in the transfer market, how would one describe what is happening at Newcastle United?
So far this summer, they have brought in one player; Loic Remy on loan from QPR. Remy had a decent half season after signing for The Hoops in January, scoring six goals but unable to stop their slide into the second tier.
Remy, before he signed for QPR was on the verge of signing for Newcastle, but the Toon were gazumped by the financial package put together by Tony Fernandes as he and Harry Redknapp tried to buy their way out of the bottom three.
So, Newcastle’s one signing of the summer so far is a player who has already turned them down a mere six months ago. How much does he really want to be there, must be the question?
There may be some hope for Geordie fans. The injuries which so decimated the team last year cannot be as bad this year, and if Alan Pardew is able to field his strongest side in the majority of games, then they should certainly avoid the flirtation with relegation which they had last season.
However, the insipid performance which opened the season at the Ethiad against ManchesterCity would not have instilled any confidence in even the most die hard of the Toon army faithful. Granted, City looked exceptional, but they should have won by more than the four they put past the impressive but overwhelmed Tim Krul.
Buying clubs could well be smelling blood. United and Arsenal are in the market for players, and everyone can see that Arsene Wenger’s £10m bid for Yohan Cabaye was merely testing the water.
It seems certain that Cabaye will be elsewhere come September 2nd, be that still in the Premier League or joining the big spending French Champions Paris Saint-Germain , who have been openly courting both him and Hatem Ben Arfa and have the financial muscle to blow anyone else out of the water, if they really want their man.
So what of MikeAshley’s only other signing of the summer? Joe Kinnear came back to the club amid howls of derision from supporters and a media crucifixion. Since his ill worded radio interview and opening press statements, the silence from the new Director of Football has been deafening. This maybe what Newcastle supporters want from “JFK”, but while he is in situ, they will also want signings.
After all, this is the man who can ring up any manager in world football, ask SirAlex for advice anytime, and has a knowledge of football greater than anyone else. Maybe he did ring SirAlex as he was cruising the Shetland Isles, and the silence is the result of the said given advice!
What is baffling, is for a club which brought in relative bargain signings and got almost universal admiration for; Ba, Santon, Cisse, Tiote, Debuchy, Anita and of course Ben Arfa and Cabaye, why change?
After all, chief scout GrahamCarr, Pardew and his team are on well documented, long term contracts, and the plan should have been to continue the progress which was being made, especially in the transfer market.
The Europa League and the injuries sustained obviously had an effect on last season’s league position, but the fifth place finish in the previous season was surely a more accurate barometer of the talent available on Tyneside.
Confidence has taken not so much as a knock, but a sledge hammer blow, and it should have been Ashley and Kinnear’s responsibility to go into the season with a settled squad and an adequate replacement for DembaBa, which was a problem left over from the January transfer window.
Nothing remotely close to this happened, and Kinnear’s appointment has seen Newcastle stumble from controversy to controversy. No sooner had the bad press from the much maligned Wonga deal calmed down, and then Kinnear was appointed and so far, has caused more harm than good.
As the transfer window draws to a close, there can be no doubt that if players aren’t forthcoming than AlanPardew will be a man under extreme pressure. There can be no repeat of last season, but the management of Newcastle seem intent to make Pardew’s job next to impossible.
Pardew, despite the feeling his eight-year contract was excessive seems to have the backing of the public, and it is evident he has had to be less outspoken than many other managers would have been in his position. For him, it is crisis time, and if there isn’t an influx of players, it will be too late to salvage, and Loic Remy will be facing his second successive relegation. No matter how much money he earns, that is not something any player wants on his CV.
Ashley and Kinnear would quite rightly take the brunt of the blame, as just because they could, they have tried to fix something that wasn’t broken. What exactly Ashley expects to gain for the way he runs the club, only he knows, but it certainly won’t bring the success that the Toon army craves.
image: © Brian Minkoff - London Pixels