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?