Not to be too crude, but it feels like Mike Ashley has grown some brain-cells overnight and to be honest, it’s absolutely baffled me.
We’ve completed the shrewd signings of three (yes three!) Premier League proven players. Ryan Fraser and Jamal Lewis are excellent signings, but it’s the Callum Wilson signing that confuses me the most – even if I am obviously delighted to finally see an experienced top flight goalscorer arrive on a permanent deal at St James’ Park!
Let’s turn the clock back to July 2019. Rafa Benitez had just walked from Newcastle and the reason was that Ashley wouldn’t sign his transfer targets.
The straw that broke the camel’s back seemed to be Salomon Rondon – who had just scored 12 goals and provided 7 assists for us as a 29-year-old who was clearly in the peak of his powers. We could’ve signed him for £16.5 million but didn’t. Rafa packed up his belongings and left the club.
Now we’ve spent £20 million on 28-year-old injury prone Callum Wilson. Don’t get me wrong, I think he’s a fantastic player and capable of being everything we’ve needed in a number nine.
I just question Ashley’s change of heart.
It could be Steve Bruce’s relationship with the board – he’s never publicly slated Ashley like the Spaniard did – and is understood to have a great relationship with the owner.
But I find this unlikely, Rafa is objectively a better manager – so I don’t understand why someone as frugal as Ashley would trust Bruce in the transfer market and not the Champions League winner. Or perhaps that just sums up the bizarre bloke that is Mike Ashley!
More likely is the fact that he’s protecting his investment. He knows that if we go down he’ll get less for us when he tries to sell – or have to pump considerably more money into the club to get us back up once again.
But it’s all so strange, we’ve gone from shopping in the European market for youngsters with potential sell on value, to signing Premier League players in their prime, overnight.
It’s not like he just gave Bruce a striker and said that’s your lot, ‘that’ll keep you up’. He obviously agreed to hand free agent Ryan Fraser a pretty hefty wage packet (over 5 years too!) and forked out £15m for Lewis – despite many of us expecting to get Greek star Giannoulis for £4-5m or bring Willems back on a cut-price deal.
As I say, Ashley genuinely might’ve woken up and realised he has to change his transfer policy to help the club build.
I just wish he had done it a couple of years earlier.