Will Ashley’s gambling continue to pay dividends?

Time for a change of plan?
Since our return to the Premier League, Newcastle United have made a net profit of around £15 million in the transfer market.

This, however, excludes the costs of “free” transfers for the likes of Demba Ba, Sylvain Marveaux, Romain Amalfitano, Mehdi Abeid and Dan Gosling.

I’m going to hazard a guess that these free transfer costs still don’t amount to that £15 million, but for arguments sake, let’s say that those free buys along with our undersoil heating upgrades and improvements to other areas of the club, such as the training ground, do add up to that figure.

That basically fits in perfectly with the “no capital outlay” policy the board have in place.

We basically haven’t spent a penny in the transfer market (net expenditure) in the past three seasons, which actually makes our performance progress in that time quite remarkable.

The problem we have, is that you aren’t always going to have a transfer window where bargain buys are available and there comes a time where you have to pay market value – not overinflated prices – for quality players.

Our board seem to be quite happy, during these dry spells, to wait it out, until an opportunity arises for us to take advantage of a certain situation, where we can attain those Graham Carr bargain buys.

Financially, this is an excellent strategy and on the playing side, it has worked wonders to date, but have we gone as far as we can by using this strategy? Or have we perhaps even shot ourselves in the foot already?

Newcastle United enjoyed a remarkable 2011/12 season, finishing fifth in the league and cementing a place back in Europe.

Could it have been even better?

For some supporters, it was the ideal opportunity to take advantage of underperforming teams, such as Liverpool and Chelsea, by investing and pushing hard for that money spinning Champions’ League position.

Papiss Demba Cisse, was signed for around £8 million and what a signing he turned out to be. The Senegalese internationals goals proved vital in helping Newcastle United to a fifth placed finish – just four points off that much sought after Champions’ League place.

Every supporter was happy with the overall result, but some were left thinking, that perhaps with a bit more ambition, considering the rare opportunity, we could have got that fourth Champions League position.

We desperately needed some extra quality in defence, perhaps cover for Cheik Tiote in that all important anchor man position in front of the back four.

Perch stepped up and performed well, but wasn’t quite the quality we needed for a top four push.

Our main frailties were at the back and we had once again failed to bring in the quality centre half cover we have needed for near on three seasons now.

Regardless, most Toon fans looked back on season extremely satisfied, but knowing that some decent investment would have to be made for us to build on our progress from an excellent season.

Two days from the start of the 2012/13 season and Newcastle have failed to bring in any senior signings, with only the free transfer of Romain Amalfintano looking ready for first team football. Granted Vurnon Anita looks set to sign but it’s not a done deal yet.

Again we have failed, so far, to bring in quality defensive cover and we seem unwilling to meet the asking price for our main right back target Mathieu Debuchy, without having any obvious alternative options planned.

This along with the fact that we have lost Leon Best and Peter Lovenkrands, leave us with less depth in attack and the threat of losing both Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse to the African Cup of Nations in January, have some fans feeling anxious with the lack of ambition to push on.

Despite Alan Pardew’s statement that the market hasn’t really taken off yet, our main rivals have all made substantial investments in their squads. Newcastle United is one of only five teams (the others are Sunderland, Swansea, Everton and Fulham) to have made of profit on transfers this season.

There are still two weeks of the window left, and deals may or may not materialize before the September 1st deadline, but is seems, as ever, Mike Ashley is once again prepared to gamble.

With the progress made over the past season, I would suggest anything other than a top seven finish would be regarded as failure unless of course we secure a cup triumph.

In which case, Ashley would go down in Newcastle folklore as a hero!

I guess only time will tell, whether Ashley’s hardball strategy pays off, or has reached its expiry date.

What do you think?

[poll id=”70″]

About JJ

Toon supporter since 1993. Living in South Africa. I've been following Newcastle since the days of Andy Cole and Peter Beardsley. Despite all the turmoil recently, the passion only grows with time.

90 thoughts on “Will Ashley’s gambling continue to pay dividends?

  1. I think Rossco @5 got it spot on. The key word is ‘mixture’ – ie. bringing in one or two top quality players each year, but all the time allowing room in the squad for the youngsters to come through.

    One thing I’ve noticed In all these discussions about how many players we should be signing is that everybody seems to forget about the 25-man squad rule. Another thing I’ve noticed is that when people talk about ‘additions’ to the squad, they only talk about new players coming in. They completely forget about the younger players we’ve already got who have recently turned 21 (or will be turning 21 soon) who will need to have their names ‘added’ to our squad.

    For example, I think we’ve currently got 21 players (including Anita) aged over 21 who would need to be named in our squad for this coming season. If we sign another couple of senior players we would end up naming a squad size of 23 which isn’t a problem in the short term, because we’re allowed to have as many as 25. That’s right, isn’t it?

    Well, yes, but what would happen this time next year? We’ve got several young lads who were all born in 1991 so they’d no longer qualify as under 21s for the 2013-14 season (includes players like Shane Ferguson, Davide Santon, James Tavernier, Paul Dummett, Bradden Inman & Conor Newton). I imagine Pards would want to include several of those players in his squad, but he’d have a slight problem if he’s only got two spaces available! And he might have a similar problem in the following year (if he’s still around) because we’ve also got a few good youngsters who were born in 1992 (including players like Mehdi Abeid, Sammy Ameobi, Haris Vuckic & Yven Moyo).

    And so on……..

    If I were pretending to be an ITK (which I’m not) I would predict that over the next few seasons we would see a trend of releasing several first team players each year, and replacing one or two (but not all of them) thereby creating a few spaces in the 25 man squad to accommodate the youngsters as they come of age, while continuing to bring in promising young players for the development squad. But that isn’t a prediction, because it’s exactly what the club seem to be doing already.

    As Rossco rightly said, it needs to be a mixture now.


  2. Newkie @52 ,That would be me you are on about 😉 .I said yesterday PL is our bread and butter and we need to concentrate on that imo. Don’t get me wrong if we had bought in 3 or 4 players of quality then an attack at the Europa cup would be merited and welcomed but with such a small squad we need to be clever and make sure PL status does not suffer .The higher we finish the more the club earns after all .If there was parity with CL earnings then it would be worth risking a decent attempt at it ,but sadly it really does pay out pretty much sweet fa. I really thought after working so hard to qualify for Europe MA would push the boat out a little more in order to really push on ,and yes I know we have Anita now but it’s still not enough ,that’s just my opinion. PL and FA CUP run for me as we stand but more if we sign others .


  3. Frank de Boer

    “Of course he goes to Newcastle United with my best wishes.” “He is one of the hardest working young players I have ever seen.” “He deserves a move to a club like Newcastle United.”

    “For me he gave everything during his time here.” “As I say, he gives everything for you.” “He never complained once to me about having to drop back into another position.”

    “In training he works like he is playing a game and that it means everything.” “In the one and half years I worked with him he did not stop working.” “That is what has resulted in his transfer to Newcastle.”

    “Newcastle fans will see a player who can deal with the game in England.” “He gives 300% for you. He is always concentrating on his game and he never ever gives up.” “He has a bright future ahead.”

    As far as personal statements go, can’t be more gleaming than that, and from someone as experienced/respected as Frank De Boer, says a lot.

    Reading good things about the calibre of player he is also so looks like we’ve done our work and pulled out another beaut here. C/B and a C/F hopefully and I reckon we’d be ready for decent European push


  4. Thanks Chris G. I also agree with your point, it’s a good was to look at it. We have a lot of young players and hopefully some of them will turn out to be good 1st teamers. I have high hopes for Bigi and Amf after watching pre season. Gosling and Vuckic are promising but have stuttered recently. I wouldn’t be suprised to see one or two go out on loan.

    We have a pretty big midfield now:

    Cabaye, Gutierrez, Ben Arfa, Obertan, Tiote, Gosling, Marveaux, Vuckic, Abeid, Amalfiltano, Bigirimana and now Anita.

    12 Players is a lot of Mids. Good competition for places I suppose.


  5. On the Original topic ,good read JJ by the way . I did not vote as I’m somewhere in the middle on it,that is to say ,I love it when we get a bargain and I don’t want the club spending stupid money and crippleing the club but I also don’t want us missing out on a quality player because of penny pinching. It’s a balancing act and I’m glad it’s not me having to do it. 😉


  6. Yeah…plus no point in risking Tiote with further injury…and we may as well find out what this lad can do asap 😉


  7. AMF – I can see alot of these jokes on the horizon. And headlines for that matter.

    Great name though. I remeber a teacher at my school was called Anita Bath! Classic. Not as good as Chris Peacock though.


  8. @ILM

    That is a great write up by FdB! Just the kind of player we are becoming accustom to these days. Players who want to play football. Attitude over aptitude everytime for me.

    Nice to see he’s not bitter about it too.


  9. @Rossco
    If we’re playing 5 in midfield it’s probably about right.
    Definitely wouldn’t mind seeing one or two to go on loan, especially Vuckic as he hasn’t ever had a sustained run at any competitive level.


  10. JJ- quality article mate.

    We went from relegation to a mid-table finish, to 5th and Europe, basically on the back of one sale and several excellent buys. Impossible to argue with the plan to date IMO.

    But…what’s next? There’s no doubt in my mind that, with the current squad and the youngsters coming through, we should be able to solidify our position in the top 7 as currently constructed. If CL is in Mike’s plans, then we will have to invest- either through a player sale or out of his own pocket. I don’t think a lot is needed- maybe 2-3 more quality players and I wouldn’t trade teams with Arsenal or Spurs for sure (I wouldn’t trade squads with LPool as we sit right now(


  11. @Kim “The higher we finish the more the club earns after all”

    But surely it’s the same with each progression you make each cup game? The prize money isn’t massive, but I’d imagine a sell out SJP would make more than the 750k you get for each league place?

    Personally, I think our players care more about winning trophies, particularly European ones (because they do matter in Europe) than they do about finishing 7th instead of 8th.


  12. Newkie @88 ” Personally, I think our players care more about winning trophies, particulary European ones (because they do matter in Europe) than they do about finishing 7th instead of 8th.”
    Well in that case we defo need to finish top 6 again this year or they wont be happy .Either that or win the FAcup to get into Europe again. 😉


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