Date:Tuesday June 7 2011
Transfer speculation has been fast and furious. Gossip prevails but TOTT attempts to put a realistic context on the comings and goings.
This should certainly prove a pivotal transfer window for Tyneside`s faithful. The club has money to spend and there is never a dull moment at St James` Park, whether on or off the field. Pardew returns from his holidays this week with training starting a few weeks later. Things should start to be sorted.
In today`s environment, finances are key. This is an area where there should be no worries. Compared with a couple of seasons ago, the wage bill has been reduced by almost £30m. After a couple of seasons of losses, NUFC stands to make an operating profit on the last season of around £15m, maybe more. On top of that there is the Carroll cash, a reported £35m. Having made a decent profit last year, some of the cash has to be spent quickly, due to tax implications.
It might be questioned as to whether there is enough in the kitty, profit and cash flow being two entirely different issues. Remember that the Premier League prize money is now in, season ticket sales should have brought in around £20m, Carroll was paid for with a huge chunk up front and if club statements are to be believed (yes it is a big IF), Ashley is taking no money out of the club.
The other consideration is that clubs can name a 25 man squad of players over the age of 21. Newcastle United are well placed, even without Routledge and Smith (assuming he goes) there are still 13 home grown players available, leaving room for the minimum of 8 required to name a full squad.
Of the players moving up to the over 21 limit, one of those is Tim Krul, obviously a prospect for the future having kept a rare clean sheet against the mighty Brazil on his international debut. Krul counts as home grown due to the length of service in the NUFC ranks. At the other end of the age spectrum is Steve Harper, with Forster the 3rd qualifying goalkeeper.
The clear out will continue, probably, due to financial reporting restrictions, after the end of June. The departures of Kuqi and Campbell have made space in the squad for overseas arrivals. Of the rest, most supporters will recognize the role that Alan Smith played in the promotion season so will be allowed to leave with thanks for his services. Routledge provided balance and an edge at Championship level but has an alternative home waiting for him.
Of more concern to supporters will be the contract situations of the leaders on the field, Barton and Nolan, the latter of who was the top English midfield scorer in the Premier League last season. These have provided the experience that is crucial to any successful side. Both are rumoured to be surplus to requirements, at least at the going rate for players of their calibre.
The worrying element is that players rumoured to be possibly leaving are among the best, when surely what is needed to develop the squad is players who can ensure competition among the best, not among the players challenging for the bench.
The club will no doubt have their own agenda with regard to other senior players. Both of the Argentine internationals, Coloccini and Jonas will be allowed to buy out their contacts at the end of next season under current regulations. The third of the amigo trio, Jose Enrique, has allegedly been offered a longer contract. Alas, Jose has seen a democratic manager come and go, with the club`s prize assets also sold, hardly welcome omens to a player with international ambitions.
With question marks surrounding the future of arguably the best quality players at the club, the issue arises of where the balance will be found. Those best players have all made public their appreciation of the previous manager, Chris Hughton. That would sit uncomfortably with any of the club`s management unless they are anything other than charismatic pygmies.
Moving through the team, strengthening is required. There has not been adequate fit cover for Enrique at left back, and should Jose leave, we are looking at a good first choice. Even Kadar and Ferguson were given little chance last season. Although Simpson improved immeasureably, the versatile Raylor has yet to prove that he is versatile enough. Colo provides culture alongside the stoppers of Saylor and Williamson, but more is still needed, even considering the utilitarian Perch.
Pardew has argued the case for pace in midfield. Tiote is potentially a great holding player if he can control his disciplinary record. Ben Arfa showed enough to suggest that if he can regain full fitness, he will be a threat with Jonas capable of being industrious on either flank. Creative flair is desperately needed, most likely to be filled from overseas with the risks of adapting to the Premier League that are always entailed.
There are plenty of strikers on Newcastle`s books. Ameobi is among the Toon`s top 5 scores over the last 50 years, but does he have enough to lead the line permanently, especially with his injury record? Best has a great goals per start ratio in the Premier League, but has yet to complete a full 90 minutes at this level. Ranger is ostensibly deemed surplus to requirements with Lovenkrands an admirable back up "off the shoulder" striker. Xisco is, well ………………. Xisco.
Players will come and go. There is realistically a £50m kitty (370m id next season`s profits are added in), plus the incoming fees from those deemed, by the club`s management at least, surplus.
That leaves us with the manager and what he wants. Pardew`s last 18 games as manager have resulted in an average of 1 win in every 6 games. He has a record of spending big at West Ham, yet still taking them into the bottom 3 before being sacked. He was unable to achieve success with the likes of Sheringham, Tevez and Mascherano. He may need all of Ashley`s spending power to survive, if indeed spending power is what he gets.
We could be in for a nail-biting summer.
Home grown (8 needed)
Harper, Krul, Forster, Simpson, Saylor, Williamson, Raylor, Perch, Nolan, Barton, Routledge, Guthrie, Smith, Ameobi, Best
Enrique, Coloccini, Jonas, Lovenkrands, Xisco, Ben Arfa, Tiote
Gosling, Ferguson, Tavernier, Ferguson, Kadar, Lua Lua, Vuckic, Ranger, Sameobi and others yet to experience first team football.
Date:Tuesday June 7 2011
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