Never short of a word or two, Wor Joe has been on the verbals again today, this time spouting forth proclamations about our contract renewals, discussions with Owen and future transfer plans. The man himself said:
'I've had a few conversations with him (Ashley) about various areas where I'd like to improve the squad and he seemed very optimistic about it, it's wait and see at the moment. I told him that we only really struggled when we had so many injuries like we've been having and that we need to strengthen the squad as a whole.
I suppose there will be a certain cap on the price of the players I get - that's the only difference - I may have to go into the Championship and buy around that area, but I've always done that in the past anyway. I spent about an hour with him a couple of days ago. He's had what I consider a very good offer, the length which (over three years) would bring Michael up to 32-plus.
I'm optimistic - I'm more optimistic now I've spent that length of time talking to him. He's getting together with his agent in the next two or three days and coming back with an answer. Obviously they'll still be negotiating one way or the other, but we'll certainly find out over the next two or three days.
I'd prefer to have Michael than any amount of cash. He's getting better and fitter and sharper. He knows himself he's come back from numerous injuries but at the moment he's fit and well, scoring goals and looking a real threat.
We hope to sign Nicky, and Shola is the same. Steve's agent is talking to Mike Ashley, so I'm very confident they will all sign. Nicky is happy. He wants to finish his career here. There is only Michael, really. We are giving him an extra few days to sort things out, but I am getting more optimistic with Michael. I don't think there's any point in being manager if you're not having a say who's in your team.
Obviously I identify the players, but as far as doing the deals - I don't do those. The fact is that we have got people who will go and sort the deals out. But I'll certainly identify the players; no-one's going to be bought without my wishes - without me having the final say.'