After an impressive 5th place finish in the Premier League, Newcastle United fans are looking ahead to next season with renewed vigour. Years of inept owners and dodgy transfer dealings gave the Magpies a calamitous reputation but having reclaimed their place near the summit of English football with some excellent foreign signings, can Newcastle genuinely sustain their transfer policy?
Geordie supporters have certainly suffered through a number of shocking transfers so it’s refreshing to see so many unknown quantities enjoying their football at the Sports Direct Arena. Transfer market horror shows like Marcelino and Jean-Alain Boumsong have been consigned to the history books by cut price success stories such as Yohan Cabaye and Cheick Tiote. It’s a process that initially seemed to possess an ulterior motive amidst chairman Mike Ashley’s controversial cost cutting schemes but the club have found a method that benefits them on the field as well as financially.
Having been criticised for selling stars of their promotion side like Kevin Nolan, Jose Enrique and Joey Barton, Newcastle have managed to improve on their best former players and turn a profit at the same time. Selling Andy Carroll for £35 million and replacing him with a more prolific free transfer in Demba Ba was a particularly astute piece of business and while no fan is naive enough to expect such a financial windfall from every transfer, it still highlights the strides being made by Ashley & Co to streamline Newcastle as a profitable business. Naturally it’ll become more difficult to maintain the same level of success every time a generation of player is moved on but it still sets a strong precedent that has been sorely lacking in previous Magpie regimes.
The improvements made to their recruitment drive form an excellent blueprint for success. Buy low, sell high seems fairly straightforward as a policy but there are no guarantees on how players will adapt to their new surroundings. This is where unsung heroes like Graham Carr earn their crust and the club’s Head Scout has enjoyed so much success in the transfer market that he’s recently signed a new 8-year deal. It was Carr who recommended players such as Tiote and Cabaye to Alan Pardew while also spotting the goal scoring potential in Papiss Demba Cisse and he will continue to advise the manager on potentially well priced targets. Carr told the BBC:
“What we try to look at is players who are playing first-team football at quite a young age.
“I first saw Papiss Cisse playing for Metz, he was on a Senegalese training camp they had there but he didn’t have the passport to come in. I saw Yohan Cabaye in the France Under-19s, I saw Tiote playing for Roda, before he went to FC Twente.
“We followed these players, they’ve been on the radar for a long time.”
Having spent most of his time in northern Europe with the majority of signings coming from France and the Netherlands, Carr has found an approach which has clearly reaped rewards. Tiote, Cabaye and Cisse have already proved their worth by helping the club qualify for Europe and Newcastle are set to continue this trend having recently announced the signing of another unknown in Romain Amalfitano from Stade Reims.
Their latest unheard of French signing could either follow in the footsteps of Hatem Ben Arfa or Sylvain Marveaux but that’s one of professional football’s unpredictable qualities. Whatever his future, Newcastle are still snapping up the best talent from across Europe and this will help re-establish them near the top of the Premier League. Whether or not fans are completely happy with Ashley’s overall contribution to the club, Carr told BBC Newcastle that his involvement will lead to more new signings.
“Mike has committed himself to the club and there will be money available to buy players.
“As we speak we are in the market for players to improve the squad.”
After so many years of uncertainty it’s remarkable to think Ashley has progressed from being the public hate figure that sacked Chris Hughton and sold their best players to his current role as a thrifty businessman with sensible investment strategies. His commitment to the cause is currently being well received and it would appear Newcastle have finally found the perfect blend of recruitment and investment.
Critics will insist the Magpies lucked out when signing so many unproven professionals. The current crop will not be replaced as easily and their reputation for a bargain will lead to selling clubs demanding more money. These are genuine concerns but after so many years of frustration Newcastle have finally found a way to improve both their team and their finances. There will always be negative connotations from battle worn fans trying pre-empt potential heartbreak and while it may turn out to be Ashley’s clever use of smoke and mirrors, any team that kills two birds with one fairly inexpensive stone deserves to attract envious stares from their rivals.
Do you think Newcastle can sustain their progress? Would you be happy if your club followed the same method? Should Ashley be given the benefit of the doubt?
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