Picture the scene: it’s deadline day. Your club’s widely-hated owner promised to invest in a bare squad in order to fulfil his already expired pledge to sell up before Christmas. A strong takeover bid has already been fought off despite the very realistic threat of a third relegation in a decade of ownership. Your transfer record hasn’t been broken since 2005 and so far this month you’ve only signed one player on loan. The fans are unhappy. The manager is uneasy.
Welcome to Newcastle United.
For a couple of weeks now there have been murmurs on Tyneside that the club had been preparing to spend big on a mystery striker in order to strengthen up in front of goal. Last week it was revealed that the supposed target was Feyenoord’s Nicolai Jorgensen- cue collective shrugs and head scratches. Skimming his Wikipedia page he appears to be a good fit: tall, scores a fair few goals, and still in his prime. However the hope didn’t last long as it was soon reported that the Newcastle bid was too low- in the mid-teens- whilst the Dutch club were holding out for a minimum £20m. After another pitiful bid the board were given a deadline to meet the asking price which, surprise surprise, they failed to do.
No sooner had the Jorgensen disaster ended than the Sturridge saga began. Next on the transfer rumour mill was a loan deal with Liverpool’s out-of-favour striker, having only made 9 Premier League appearances this season. Another exciting prospect for fans to get excited about; proven league experience in this country, could help secure top flight status, return and sign a permanent forward in summer. The next day Daniel was expected at the Newcastle training ground but by the early afternoon there was still no sign of him, and reports were circulating that he was now favouring a move to West Brom for family reasons. Needless to say, the Brummie native secured his loan in the West Midlands and Newcastle were left with even more work to do.
Thankfully, by the close of the window at 11pm yesterday, there were two new arrivals on Tyneside: goalkeeper Martin Dubravka and striker Islam Slimani. Many Toon fans breathed a sigh of relief at the latter’s announcement as earlier in the evening Joselu made the need for a fresh goal scorer even more apparent after missing several golden chances in the draw against Burnley. Whilst these additions to the squad address a couple of problems that Newcastle are facing, the fact still remains that they’re only a temporary solution as they’re all loans. If a new owner is found by summer then the team might get the reinvestment they so desperately need, but that might prove too little too late if they fall victim to relegation once more.
It’s no secret that the team are struggling, and unrest among fans has heightened since their biggest asset, Rafa Benitez, has once again been lied to by the powers above about the resources at his disposal. After continually insisting he would have all the available funds he needs to bolster the squad, United have come away from the transfer window as one of only two teams in the Premier League that didn’t make a permanent signing. Geordies are concerned that this could be the final straw and that the manager is now more likely than ever to walk away- and the sad part is they don’t blame him. With any luck by the time summer comes around there will be a fresh outlook and serious investment to avoid yet another shambolic transfer market. Here’s looking to you, Mike Ashley.