By a rough guess, the start of the Premier League season is around 6-weeks away as I type this. In that time (though the transfer window doesn’t close until the end of August) United has an incredible amount of business to get through. The transfer window hasn’t run away from the club just yet but by any stretch Ashley, Charnley, Carr and Pardew need to significantly up their game if United is to make any kind of impact next season.
We know the club wants to get shot of HBA, Marveaux, Obertan, Mbwia and would likely listen to offers for Santon and S. Taylor. Those unwanted players from the first team squad could likely be joined by Debuchy (whose transfer to Arsenal will likely happen very soon), Tim Krul (where the whispers have already started of him being unsettled) and Chieck Tiote (who I have a hunch may be wanted in Manchester as a bench-warmer next season). Then of course there is Shane Ferguson, Sammy Ameobi, Haris Vuckic and Gael Bigigrama who I would guess United would like to move out of the club as per Mehdi Abeid and James Tavernier. More young players failing to flourish at the Academy of Doom.
It is the received wisdom that United needs two strikers, another creative midfielder, a winger and a central defender. That’s before any more leave the club.
On the strikers’ front the players the club has been scouting for some time are beginning to get moves elsewhere. Gomis has joined Swansea City and Lassonga has moved to SV Hamburg. Alexandre Lacazette (Lyon) and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Dortmund) might be on the list but you have to give United credit for a completely left-field bit of business as they completed with Cisse from Freiburg with no-one getting a sniff of it before the deal was done. There were rumours linking Demba Ba to a return to United a few weeks ago (as well as Sunderland) but I don’t think he fits our profile of young players with a sell-on value. At the moment though, nothing looks like close to being completed, though I say that hoping to be proven wrong with a Cisse pulled from a hat by the club.
So, basically an awful lot of business to get through both in and out if the squad is going to be one the club, let alone the supporters, can have any confidence in.
So far, it looks like the same old story. The club has completed what might be a decent piece of business with the arrival of Siem De Jong (a player quoted as saying he hopes to have a good two years at United despite signing a six-year deal, hmm, wonder, what that means?) though Pardew’s drum-banging for him makes you wonder why PSG didn’t just sign our new Dutchman for a lot less dough rather than Yohan Cabaye for rather more doesn’t it? Of course De Jong’s arrival had a large part of its shine taken off it by Mathieu Debuchy’s less than subtle eye-lash fluttering in the direction of Arsenal. Debuchy’s departure for North London was all but rubber-stamped when Pardew was quoted as saying the French full-back was going nowhere. Nothing Alan Pardew EVER says EVER happens.
So, what we are looking at is what was widely predicted at the end of the season, the start of some player trading which I expect will amount to little more than rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic. We’ve signed a player with promise but we are on the point of selling a proven Premier League player. As B&W comrades have wryly observed, last season our three best players were Cabaye, Remy and Debuchy. All three will have left the club by the time the new season kicks off.
I really can’t blame Mathieu Debuchy for wanting to leave Newcastle United and join Arsenal. Our Managing Director, Lee Charnley no less, has made explicit statements that the Cups are a distant priority. Well, he’s done more than that, he has submitted evidence (of a highly dubious nature) that Cup competitions can have a negative impact upon those clubs outside the golden circle of the top 6 who commit to them.
Further, the manager, Alan Pardew, has made his distaste for the Europa League abundantly plain and the inference I am taking from that is United would be as keen to qualify for Europe as you would be to get on the Cheesy Chips and Blue Pop.
I think by now, even the most optimistic amongst our support is well aware, Mike Ashley is not about to start investing in a squad to have a crack at qualifying for the Champions League.
So, why would Mathieu Debuchy want to stay with a club that doesn’t want to win a Cup, doesn’t want to qualify for the Europa League and isn’t interested in building a squad to get into the Champions League, as difficult as that might be?
Debuchy owes us nothing. In fact, if United doubles its money after only one full season from him it is United that is in debt to him. Debuchy has no long term emotional or community attachment to United and the reason he came to our club was to advance his career. I don’t doubt in negotiations, the scenario he is now in was the one that was pitched to him. By Newcastle United. Play in the Premier League, prove your talent and then move onto a bigger club to win something. It worked for his best mate Yohan didn’t it?
I don’t doubt for one moment Tim Krul, Moussa Sissoko and Chieck Tiote don’t have exactly the same motivation. I don’t blame them. It is the modern duty of every footballer to achieve as much as they can with their talent – professionally and financially. You would want to play at the highest level you possibly can – the most competitive domestic league, Europa League, Champions League, international tournaments and win trophies. No serious professional footballer having proven their talent could take them further and with a willing suitor would want to stay tied to Mike Ashley’s cold business plan.
I don’t doubt for one second we will be having the same conversations about Siem De Jong if he lives up to his billing and shows himself to be capable of performing at a higher level. Debuchy, Cabaye, Ba, whoever … are no different to Waddle, Beardsley and Gascoigne almost thirty years ago who left a club with no ambition to fulfil their potential elsewhere.
The task for any football club in so far as supporters such as us are interested in, is to make it as competitive as it possibly can be. Newcastle United is a very, very easy football club to leave if you are an ambitious footballer. The club has a manager, not really worthy of the description with little credibility as a man or a coach with a large swathe of the support. The owner has little interest in the club and would like it to manage itself without any input from him in terms of his towering business acumen or from his massive wealth.
The statement – Newcastle United has no ambition isn’t so much a revelation but more an epitaph.
Why, if you could go somewhere to achieve your ambitions, your goals, your dreams and be paid more, would you stay?
Now, given where Newcastle United is in the pecking order of football clubs we have to accept we can’t compete financially with Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal because they have a rich tradition we simply do not possess. We can’t compete with financially doped clubs like Chelsea and Man City either. But we should be punching our weight along with Everton, Spurs and building a squad that can bloody a few noses from time to time as well as doing everything we can to upset the status quo. To do that requires leadership, determination and commitment from the top and that is something we just don’t have.
Ashley is simply indifferent to Newcastle United and in business terms at least has far bigger fish to fry than a football club at the other end of the country he likely considers something of a distraction to his main business interests. United’s vision doesn’t extend beyond an EXCEL spreadsheet.
Yet so many areas of the club’s operations under-perform and undermine that self sufficiency model – we are losing money commercially, on the corporate and on the gate (not to mention the Academy of Doom) because the club has no vision.
While Newcastle United continues to operate to narrow measures of key-performance indicators, it will go on losing credibility and support.
Despite the World Cup taking up our attentions at the moment, I’m delighted so many of
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We will have more pin-badges for sale very soon which we hope you will agree are something of a cut above.
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Anyway, Van Gaal has to pick Krul for the semi now, surely?
Have a great week.