Failings at Newcastle all too predictable

Another summer transfer deadline day passes and once again Newcastle fans are left scratching their heads at the lack of activity, focus rightly turning towards Director of Football Joe Kinnear.

Having arrived back in June with such ill-deserved arrogance, bewildering statements and an outrageous provocative radio interview, Geordies didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Now they know.

If Kinnear’s remit was to enhance the squad, then he has utterly failed – given the squad is considerably weaker compared to the start of the summer. Loic Remy in on loan; Steve Harper, Danny Simpson and James Perch sold, with other fringe players sent out on loan.

Bringing in a big signing, especially after such an important win against Fulham, might’ve just been the kick-start the club, the fans and an under-fire Alan Pardew needed. The noise when Remy made his debut helped a gung-ho attacking display that eventually killed off Martin Jol’s side and provided a rare moment of escapism for the loyal home fans after the JFK saga and last season’s flirt with relegation.

What a wasted opportunity: my exact sentiments last summer when, having finished in an unprecedented fifth place in the league above Chelsea, Newcastle failed to build on the back of their achievement.

Vurnon Anita was the only senior player through the door last summer with then Managing Director Derek Llambias admitting that was a major error on their part. Attempted rectification by signing five French players in January was a risk that only just paid off, and many hoped it would be once bitten, twice shy.

So why has this exact scenario been allowed to happen again?

The momentum and excitement after their first Premier League win (and goal) of the campaign has been almost immediately negated through lack of ambition, unrealistic perspective of the football transfer market – but perhaps most pertinently – a lack of desire to spend any considerable money.

After Remy’s arrival, it was still widely accepted that a new striker and a new winger were needed to restore the depth in squad so lacking in the previous campaign and to replace their top goalscorer for two seasons running – Demba Ba. This was not achieved, despite countless obvious targets becoming available during the last few weeks of the window.

Bafetimbi Gomis did all but state his desire to join the Magpies, however a stalemate ensued over alleged agents’ fees, despite Newcastle and Lyon agreeing a transfer fee.

Other alleged targets included Scott Sinclair, a player who surely matched the transfer blueprint of Newcastle – a young and exciting attacking wing forward – but who joined West Brom on loan almost unchallenged. Tom Ince, who has impressed in the Championship for a couple of seasons now was thought to have been available for, in context to today’s market, a paltry £8m – great value for a bright young English talent who will surely win a full international cap in the next three years.

Victor Moses, another potential and feasible target joined Liverpool on loan from Chelsea on the final day of the window. There was even talk of Spurs and England striker Jermain Defoe becoming available on loan after Tottenham’s lavish summer spending, but it amounted to nothing.

I could understand Newcastle’s stance against loan signings as they are often a quick fix and don’t play into the hands of the club long term unless an option to buy clause is inserted as part of the deal. However the only senior signing brought in was indeed Remy. On loan. Albeit more as security, I suspect, for his impending court case, but one which reportedly does not include an option to buy clause anyway.

A return to St James’ Park was mooted for Chelsea striker Demba Ba, although the amount of truth was debatable and Newcastle would surely have balked at the £3m asking price for a season-long loan or would’ve been muscled out by Arsenal, Napoli or Valencia – who had all been circling for his signature.

In truth though, we all saw this coming. And with each day that passed, despite Newcastle fans staying optimistic, often against their better judgement, they knew Joe Kinnear was never going to be the answer.

But was his appointment simply a smokescreen to serve purpose as an ‘illusion of progress’? If so, it wasn’t very convincing. But what is important here is, going back to my earlier point, that Mike Ashley didn’t want to invest any more money than he had to. There can only be one reasonable explanation for this – he plans to sell.

But even for a man who has tried since day one to regard this football club as a profit-making business, not speculating to accumulate for a second successive season after the warning of last year makes no business sense. If he intends to sell up and increase his stake in Rangers north of the border, then Newcastle need to remain a Premier League club.

Norwich, West Brom, Swansea, Stoke, Cardiff, Sunderland, Crystal Palace, Hull, West Ham, Southampton – all clubs we will realistically be battling it out with for ‘mid-table supremacy’ and every single one of them has outspent us. Ludicrous claims that we ‘couldn’t compete’ didn’t wash with supporters who simply pointed to the Sky Sports/BT Sports TV rights deal bounty that fell straight onto Ashley’s lap, and subsequently straight into his pocket.

It’s not that Newcastle couldn’t compete – it’s that they wouldn’t.

Alan Pardew, for all his faults has been horribly undermined and Kinnear’s presence a disrespectful attempt to drive him out of the club. If results begin turning sour on the pitch, the Toon Army won’t know what to hope for: if Pardew stays, fortunes may not turn, however, if he leaves, Kinnear becomes the long term interim manager nobody wants – presumably until his next health scare.

What is evident to all – is that the Geordies are left in an unenviable position of simply being stuck with the current regime. Many will point to the financial stability that Ashley has provided, which can’t be ignored in an age of ‘financial fair play’.

Although what the current owner needs to understand is that football clubs should be bought out of passion and genuine love for the game, not to turn a profit. It is a business like no other. The shareholders are the thousands of fans who turn up every week to ‘support the team, not the regime’ paying top dollar for season tickets and merchandise and they should expect nothing less than reinvestment on the pitch.

One thing is for certain – their loyalty deserves a damn sight more than this.


  1. simon says:

    Shitt happens,,,,we r used to it thou. !!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. R_Obotocha says:

    Oooof! Angry newcastle fan vents frustration in blog post and feels better. Love the last 6 lines 🙂

  3. Secret Squirrel says:

    Perhaps they’ll now spend some of the money saved refurbishing all the Ladies toilets in the East Stand! After all, we do pay top notch for our season tickets so don’t deserve substandard loos. I live in hope, like I do each season

    • Interesting comment! Not that I can back you up on the ladies toilets claim although I can only imagine…shudder. What makes it a good point is that the new TV rights money should be invested into the club directly – players and facilities – to provide a better service all around to its paying customers. Only (!) 46,000 attended against Fulham – you have to believe fans will continue to vote with their vote against Hull, those who haven’t paid upfront for season tickets that is!

      • Secret Squirrel says:

        I thought about writing to NUFC about this, but then I thought this blog would be a good way to find other’s opinions on the matter. Would be good if some other women would make a comment too.

  4. Ben R says:

    Well written.

    I’m not as exasperated as most it seems. I’d rather Newcastle didn’t lash out on any old player just to appease the fans – they’ve been down the road before. They are trying to operate a business sensibly in a system that is horribly skewed and inefficient. For example Chelsea can hoover up a player like Demba Ba – one of Newcastle’s best – and 6 months later declare that he is completely surplus to requirements.

    If I was looking for immediate cause for concern I would start with the manager rather than the owner or whatever it is that Kinnear is supposed to be doing. Pardew is consistently negative and cowardly in his tactics., and has lost the ability to inspire his players. .

  5. Funnily enough Ben – I tend to agree. As a fellow fan, I find it hard to get wound up as it was always going to happen.

    I admire the business discipline demonstrated by the club, and am similarly perplexed by Pardew’s tactics. (Kinnear’s appointment however, is monumentally frustrating – expecting him to sign players is like giving a cow a calculator and expecting trigonometry).

    But the ball is definitely in Pardew’s court now. With the players we have, even without reinforcements, we should be playing better than we have for the past 18 months.

    The pressure is on.

  6. Michael P says:

    My sympathy for Pardew also only stretches so far Ben. His tactics over the past year certainly haven’t been up to scratch, and he hasn’t reacted quickly enough when things clearly weren’t working, Cisse and Ba through the middle together, the arrangement of personnel in his 4-2-3-1, not employing any genuine width on either side, and of course not dropping players when they were clearly out of form.

    The reality is, we have a decent squad. All this talk of desperately needing another central defender doesn’t add up to me, Colo is the first name on the teamsheet, and I feel/hope Mbiwa will form a good partnership with the skipper. Steven Taylor, despite his idiotic actions in the Man City game, can be a good player when he’s switched on, and I don’t think Williamson is a bad option as a 4th choice centre half, although he is extremely susceptible to a forward with a turn of pace.

    p.s. Good article Widdle.
    In midfield Cabaye, for his overratedness (sic), on form or close to it, is a decent passer of the ball, Anita has started the season well, there is an effective player in Sissoko, somewhere. Tiote maybe needs to be dropped and told to stick to the basics, the reality check will do him good.

    It is simply up front that we are a player short in my opinion. Keeping Remy and Ben Arfa fit is essential. Gouffran is a willing runner, and can stretch and occupy defenders to create space for the more talented Remy and Ben Arfa. Having said this, the aforementioned two may in turn create space for Cisse, and get him firing again. We certainly lack a more physical option amongst those four however, physical and mobile that is (ruling out a certain Nigerian international.)

    I’m sick of the Kinnear/Ashley/Pardew circus. Looking across the league we have more quality than a lot of sides, especially if we can keep key players fit. If we had signed another striker I would have been satisfied with the window. We didn’t, so I’m not satisfied, however this is not the crisis some are making it out to be.

    • Thanks Michael, I think our potential success (relative) will be dictated by our ability to keep our key players fit. If any one of Krul, Cabaye, Colo, HBA, Remy, Cisse get injured simultaneously – we could be in big trouble.

      As for tactics, the change in system to a 4-4-2 has been promising at home so far (4/6 points, two clean sheets) I just worry about our away form. Like it or lump it we have Pardew, for now, but if he went – I’m not sure who I would want in that we could realistically attract. Besides JFK of course…

    • Ha, hey Michael! I have no sympathy with Pardew – read my comments! Unless you were talking to the other Ben? But then, his sympathies don’t seem to be with Pards either…

  7. Michael P says:

    “My sympathy for Pardew ALSO only stretches so far”, meaning not that far at all. I feel some sympathy in that he’s had a clown installed above him, and been left a striker short, but as mentioned that doesn’t hide his tactical failings.

  8. Jacko says:

    I think one has to remember the initial Ashley funded splurge and it’s reasonably well accepted that Ashley’s advisors failed to carry out effective due diligence.
    It’s also widely accepted that Ashley values a transfer kitty as the worth of the entire transfer – for Tom Ince that would mean say £8mil for the player registration plus say £4mil wages @ 20k p/w for 4 years – so if there was only £10mil to spend then you couldn’t have him without a sale.
    The problem is Ashley is doing it in such a way that really stinks of terrible PR – with a bit of good P/R he could really make people sit-up and realise this is how the game needs to be run…

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