Closed For Business
With the transfer window now closed until January, we review the summer's dealings and look at the new class of 2010.
ince the transfer window system was brought into force in 2003, Sky Sports News have thrown themselves head first into a hysterical state of overdrive on the 31st day of every August and January, having Davey Craig stood outside the St. James Park gates waiting for a glimpse of Antoine Sibierski or Olivier Bernard or even the late night cleaners so that he can fathom a story about a secret signing going on behind closed doors. But this year Newcastle United had a quiet day at the office, concluding all of their transactions well before the deadline.
Now while this wasn't very exciting for the fans glued to the TV desperate for the ticker to appear with news of that much needed left-back or striker putting pen to paper on a 4-year deal, it did give a sense of calm almost as if we had a transfer plan and executed it perfectly. Newcastle made 5 signings this summer and didn't lose a single player from their record, Championship winning squad - and all for a miserly £5m! For those of you who've been in a coma or working in North Korea for the summer, Newcastle managed to make the following, sensible signings:
Dan Gosling - The Devon born England under-21 international was a stand out performer for Everton last term, making himself an instant hero at Goodison when he bagged the extra time winner against arch-rivals Liverpool. But the hero soon turned villian when a bizarre administrative error led to him being available, and leaving, on a free. The youngster can play a variety of postitions from full-back to central midfield and has a similar reputation to Danny Guthrie as being a hard working, team player.
Sol Campbell - The 2-time Premiership and 4-time FA Cup winner was definitely Newcastle's 'biggest' signing if pre-season photos are to believe, but the former 'invincible' is one of England's most experienced players who will bring a sensible approach to a toon defence that has always had a reputation for being error prone. Campbell will also be instrumental in the progress of some of the young and promising defenders at the club. Players like Tamas Kadar and James Tavernier will only benefit from working with a player of Campbell's pedigree.
Cheik Tiote - At £3.5m the Ivory Coast international was Chris Hughton's most expensive signing and, at only 24, arrives in toon with a league winners medal from his time with FC Twente in Holland. Tiote is traditionally a defensive midfielder and his presence in the middle of the park will provide Barton and Nolan with that much needed freedom to get forward and create chances for Carroll and co.
Hatem Ben Arfa - The Ben Arfa saga was a long, drawn out transfer and the details are still unclear as to whether we have an automatic buy-out clause or just a first option to buy, but the French international is by far the most exciting prospect to arrive at Barrack Road in years and while arriving on loan, has provided little financial risk to the club if the worst happens and we are relegated. The winger is known in France for the bag of tricks he likes to showcase on the wing and will be great competition to Jonas and Routledge for a first team place, but the 23 year old's best position is just behind the front man, in the role Kevin Nolan currently occupies, but it remains to be seen whether Hughton will move the skipper into a deeper role to accomodate our new, Clamart-born star.
James Perch - The former Nottingham Forest ace was a stand out performer for the Trees making over 190 appearances in 6 successful years at the club. While not convincing in his 3 starts for the Mags so far this term, he has provided cover for the injured Danny Simpson and has pushed Ryan Taylor into the reserves.
While these signings bring much needed strength and depth to our squad in vital positions, the board failed to aknowledge the need for a new striker and a left-back, two positions we've been crying out to strengthen for the last 3 years, and it's not like there wasn't a few players we could have taken either, with ex-toon loanee left-back Patrick Van Aarnholt still sat in Chelsea's reserves and Roque Santa Cruz, after being ommited from manager Roberto Mancini's 25-man squad it looks like 5 months in the reserves for the £18m hitman - who is still only 29!
But with the exception of local rivals Sunderland, who spent over £13m - a club record fee - on a player with a worse goals to games ratio in tin-pot league France than our reserve striker Shola Ameobi has in England, our relegation rivals Bolton and Blackpool and mid-table contestants Everton all spent less than us. While Sam Allardyce's Blackburn and Aston Villa didn't even spend a penny! With West Ham, Wigan and West Brom spending only a little bit more than us on seemingly worse players, it's been a good window for the club.
Time will tell whether these signings have the needed quality to keep us in the big time but so far so good from Chris Hughton and the new, hopefully more professional, Newcastle United.