Some look at it with excitement at who their club might bring in, but for most it’s a time of fear and trepidation at the thought of their best players leaving for pastures new.
Last year the much publicised Andy Carroll deal definitely put Newcastle fans in the latter category, and although this time round we are higher up the table and established in the Premier League, the fear is that the same will happen again.
Some might say the recent acquisition of Papiss Cisse can only point to the suggestion that some of our big players will leave to offset the outlay, but can we expect to see the revolving door at St James’ Park turn any more this month?
Prior to the opening of the transfer window, the general consensus from the media seemed to be that Alan Pardew and his scouting team had around £8 million of Mike Ashley’s money to play with. The first thought for me was that the sum wasn’t too bad. Based on some of the deals that Graham Carr has found over the last few years, £8 million would comfortably buy two quality players for around £4 million each. So a striker and a CB and we’re sorted yeah?
Alan Pardew then came out and said that no striker would be joining in January, which left many feeling the whole of the £8 million budget would be spent on one defender; hence the links to the likes of Christopher Samba.
Once again though, as they did throughout the summer, Newcastle blindsided the media, and on Tuesday landed Freiburg goal machine Papiss Cisse pretty much out of the blue. We had been linked with him heavily in the summer, but after the collapse of the Maiga deal, and the admission from Pardew that no striker would be brought in; the sight of David Craig shouting excitedly at me from my tele-box was quite a shock.
Not really since the days of Michael Owen can I remember NUFC fans getting so excited over a player, and I must say that it’s nice to have that feeling back. The question now is, is that us done? Is that Newcastle’s one dip into the transfer market this month, or can we expect more?
Doubtless we all hope for more, and with the Centre Back position still looking a little ropey, despite Williamson’s consistency over recent games, the addition of a defender would be just as warmly received as our new number nine.
Earlier in the month I wrote an article about why Ashley wouldn’t invest. It wasn’t particularly a criticism of him, but I could understand that with Newcastle safe from relegation, the Sports Direct mogul may have chosen to throw his money away in Aspers, rather than sign players and kick on in the second half of the season. So far I’ve been wrong; I hope I get proven even more wrong, as with an additional centre half to add some depth, Newcastle really could go places.
A deal for Centre Back Yohan Benalouane has been suggested in the media, with a mooted loan deal possible. Other players heavily linked are James Tomkins, with West Ham already rejecting bids, and Middlesbrough’s Rhys Williams, who Pardew supposedly watched play last week. If Newcastle sign a defender in these next few weeks it really would be a statement of intent, an illustration of Mike Ashley’s ambitions for the club, and more than anything, a welcome surprise. Money and investment isn’t always linked to success, but it certainly helps.
It’s also important we don’t lose players too. Given the choice, I’m sure most would rather keep the likes of Cheik Tiote, Demba Ba and Fabricio Coloccini and bring no-one in, than have star players leave and be hastily replaced.
Here I have to confess to being a bit of a twitter addict. Far too much of my day is spent trawling through people’s newsfeeds. I don’t go to many Newcastle matches unfortunately, living in Leeds and being a student with no money means that most of my Saturday afternoons consist of watching the match over the internet on a blurry feed with an excitable Russian commentator. My twitter feed comes alive when Newcastle play, acting as a fans forum in which everyone discusses how the team is playing etc.
I also follow people who aren’t Newcastle fans, and it’s surprising to see how well thought of our team is by the rest of the country. One guy commented that the core of our team; Krul, Coloccini, Tiote and Ba; was one of the best in the league, and if Newcastle could build on it they could really go places. Another said how he couldn’t remember the last time a club went from relegation fodder to being a Premier League force so quickly.
It was nice to see that it isn’t just Newcastle fans who rate our players, it isn’t just blind faith, and it isn’t just us who think that if we continue to buy well, and more importantly keep our prize assets, our club can really achieve things.