With Rafa gone and last season’s two top scorers also out the door, it’s fair to say our only hope now will be to pull a few rabbits out of the hat in what remains of the transfer window.
I say that because it doesn’t feel like any new manager will be inspiring us to safety, with Allardyce and Bruce the last two names to be offered the job.
I had hoped Rafa’s replacement wouldn’t be TOO much of a catastrophe when we were told the likes of Arteta, Martinez, Vieira and Blanc were some of the names on the club’s shortlist, but a few weeks on and we really are scraping the barrel.
With that in mind, and working on the basis that Steve Bruce (or someone of his ilk) is our new ‘head coach’, it’ll be absolutely ESSENTIAL that we sign well (and quickly!) over the next 4 weeks if we are to have any chance of surviving this season.
The issue is, quality players cost a lot of money, clubs are reluctant to lose quality players late in the window, and quality players also tend to join ambitious clubs or sides in top leagues that are at least going in the right direction.
We are none of those things right now, so it feels like the only way we pulls off a few good signings this summer is if we’re seen as a stepping stone for a player wanting to get their big chance to impress in the Premier League.
This could work in our favour. Loic Remy is a prime example, being a player that was never here for the long haul, but someone who’s goals and quality were enough to keep us up.
The big issue is, players that arrive on the basis that you’re a stepping stone won’t have the key qualities that has kept us up over the past two seasons – fight, work rate and commitment to the cause.
I give you Joelinton as an example. The Chronicle’s Mark Douglas said in a podcast earlier this week that he would not be surprised if the £30m-rated Brazilian ends up at Newcastle this summer. I’d personally be shocked if he signed up to a club stripped of its assets and left with Steve Bruce as manager, but I would assume he’d be arriving in a bid to catch the eye of one of the top clubs.
He’d do very well to get the goals/assists Rondon got last season for a start, but would he bring the same energy levels and fight? I don’t want to prejudge a player I don’t know, but this is the issue – players seeing us as a stepping stone would be trying to impress for a move away, not battling for the club’s Premier League status.
I wouldn’t blame any quality player considering the move to have this approach, but this is the problem we’ve now created following Rafa’s exit – a manager who was one of the main reasons good players GENUINELY wanted to sign for us.
Benitez gave us hope and a real reason for both fans and players to believe we were going places, but you can’t help but feel we’d be seen as nothing other than a stepping stone now he’s gone.
Now we must hope Steve Nickson can pull off a few Graham Carr-esque buys (the Cabaye and Tiote type ones, not the Mbiwa and Cabella’s!) or that the odd quality player takes a chance on us in a bid to get a bigger move further down the line.
It’s sad to say, but we’ll need all the help we can get next season, with this period between now and August 8th defining whether we have any chance of surviving – because Steve Bruce has no chance of keeping us up without serious first-team improvements.