The Ashley regime has installed a clear transfer policy over the last ten years, with mixed results. Profit and re-sale value have usually been the main priority. With the new TV deal and transfer fees increasing dramatically, will Newcastle move with the times and secure the recruitment they need this summer?
Ashley’s usual transfer policy
The cornerstone of Ashley’s transfer policy at NUFC has been to scout and secure young talent from the continent, tie them to long contracts with the idea of a large re-sale fee. The worked well with the likes of Cabaye (sold £20m), Debuchy (sold £12m), Wijnaldum (sold £25m) Sissoko (sold £30m). However, for every success there have been flops like Riviere, Thauvin, Cabella and M’Biwa. It is also frustrating for fans having players who are not here for the long term and as such, become viewed purely as assets.
Derek Llambias famously said Newcastle would sign a ‘few purples’ (high quality players) and that was all we could afford. It was the job of Carr to get these players in at a low cost. Release clauses was also an avenue we explored to find a bargain.
The manager role was also switched to a head coach role with Graham Carr all but the director football. Two relegations and one top half finish suggests this policy has not worked on the pitch and a new direction is needed.
Rafa’s transfer ideology
One of the reasons there is speculation regularly that Rafa will quit is that this transfer policy goes against Rafa’s stance on new players. He has regularly said he doesn’t want players who view NUFC as a stepping stone and that experienced players are needed too for the dressing room. He also feels British players are important to help connect the playing staff and the fans and squad depth is pivotal to a long hard season. Vitally, he insists on the final say on all transfers and is effectively more of a manager not a head coach.
Why our old policy won’t work this window
Times have clearly changed. The new TV deal has meant that £17m gets you Harry Maguire, with Bournemouth set to spend £20m on Nathan Ake. To think that is higher than our transfer record shows how NUFC have really stagnated. If we have any hope of getting back in the top half, we need to invest in quality players and pay the premium. Hidden gems are great but Ashley has gambled and lost on this policy already; we can’t afford another relegation fight.
We have a large fan base and a world class manager. This will certainly help to attract players but to get to that point we have to at least match what other Premier league teams are willing to pay.
Ashley beginning to change?
Ashley has already moulded the policy last season to fit to Rafa’s needs. Ritchie, Shelvey and Gayle came in as a new British spine. Murphy and Gamez both were signed despite being over 30 and for the first time in a while we had good squad depth last year. Having four capable centre halves for once was quite a novelty for Newcastle fans…
Graham Carr leaving also strengths Rafa’s hand. Press articles will always link Rafa with a departure because of his pedigree. But the known facts are that he stayed when we went down, announced he is staying after one meeting with Ashley this summer and now the club structure is being changed to fit around his needs.
Until this is backed up with quality signings though, it is going to be a restless summer. Let’s hope Ashley realises his transfer policy needs to continue to keep up with the market.