Evolution has been the key for Newcastle United, even though at times it feels like we’ve taken one step backwards to stumble on a path that takes us two steps forwards.
I’m talking transfers and team strength here. We’re very much still a work in progress here, but the work done so far has been startling and has to be given credit where it’s due.
It’s rather topical at the moment, given the game today, but could anyone see this when Andy Carroll was sold 13 months ago? Jose Enrique couldn’t, and I’d guess that not many others could at that time. Hindsight is, of course, a wonderful thing.
We’ve struck gold in the transfer market time and time again, to a point where you have to say that it’s gone beyond being lucky. What we’re seeing is the result of hundreds of hours of work that we don’t even see going on in the background, ensuring that any player we buy is scouted carefully and matched with the club, not just in terms of ability, but also in terms of personality.
I know the subject of selling players will come up, but if we do sell a player for silly money, and it would have to be silly money for us to sell, then we find ourselves in the same position that we found ourselves in after Andy Carroll, with a boatload of cash to spend which, using hindsight, we know will be spent on bringing players into the club.
I understand the reasoning or keeping hold of your best players, but sometimes it’s just not possible. People will say that we should look at Luka Modric and Tottenham as an example of how it’s done, but it’s much easier to tell a player he is staying when you have Champions League qualification to offer and lets not forget that Tottenham only got into the position to say no through selling their crown jewels of the time for big money.
We still have a lot of work that needs doing in the transfer market to make this squad as strong as it can be. I’m reasonably happy with how it’s going so far and another summer of doing what we did last time out (ie being careful with our recruitment and ensuring we put the hours into identifying our targets) would give us a better squad to kick on with next season, whether we lose a big name or not.
For all the talk of history and form books under this regime, the fact that they now have a history of reinvesting cash seems to be the glaring entry in that book which gets overlooked by some fans. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: It’s not the selling players which is an issue, it’s a failure to replace them which hurts in the long run.
And at the moment we’ve done just that, albeit better late than never.