The man who Newcastle have decided to help them get through the vital January transfer window – Nicky Hammond, probably like us wished he could turn the clock back to March 1994.

It would make his job easier if Newcastle had the calibre of players that tore his Swindon Town side apart. We don’t. We really don’t.

But as Hammond sat on the bench that day as Newcastle ripped apart Swindon 7-1 with 5 second half goals he probably didn’t think over 25 years later he would probably in the position of overseeing the most high profile transfer window in our history.

Hammond, a goalkeeper, saw Fraser Digby suffer for the Wiltshire side that day but since retiring after a league career of less than 100 games, mostly for Swindon and Reading he’s made a career out of providing the ammunition for teams rather than stopping it- to mixed results.

Hammond isn’t the first to be linked with this job and after everyone from Ralph Rangnick, now at Man Utd to Michael Emenalo, the club have plumped for Hammond who although a temporary appointment, is now in pole position to fill the job as time goes on. Its his job to lose basically. This looks like an appointment helped along by Eddie Howe in all honesty.

Howe will know Hammond from his dealings at Bournemouth as the likes of Adam Federici and Jan Kermogant swapped the two clubs with Howe in charge and with both having had careers mostly in the South of England, paths with have crossed. It’s a slight thin reference I know.

Newcastle surely will have targets in mind for the next month. If they don’t, we are in big trouble and Hammonds role is not to identify as such, surely, but to smooth through deals which we have identified.

Hammonds skill of signing players who are less known are credible but given time constraints this isn’t the window for going all France u21 on us.

Results have to be instant and Hammonds remit , short term, has to be to get players through the door.

So much of the new owners is unknown, a few decisions have been at best slow and at worst naïve and its fair enough to get someone in who has worked for twenty odd years buying players for clubs.

Hammond is in a position that he hasn’t been before. The club will likely buy if he recommends, no trying to sell a player to tight arsed chairman. If Howe and Hammond can work together and in tandem , it’s a good idea.

Hammond retired with a recurring back injury at the turn of the century and Alan Pardew gave him his first coaching role at Reading. He oversaw the youth academy, really impressing with that and being made Reading’s first director of football in 2003. He would oversee Readings best spell in their history. The club reached the Premier League in 2007 and this was done with a side full of ‘finds’

Dave Kitson, Shane Long and Kevin Doyle all were lynchpins, the latter two bought for not much from Cork. Reading were promoted three times in 6 years and finished 8th in 2007, an incredible achievement for a small side who were in the third tier when Hammond went to the club.

Readings last premier league season was 2013 and they went straight down and it’s hard to see them returning anytime soon. Hammond had been there for almost twenty years when he left in 2016 and the shift was stark after he left.

He was dealing with buying players that would be sold for a profit, Reading suddenly did exactly the opposite buying players like Romanian George Puskas for £8m with a £2m signing on fee and 15 thousand a week. They are in a financial mess since Hammond left and recently were docked points for that very reason.

His next move was West Bromwich Albion and its safe to say he didn’t find it as easy at Albion, a club who are bigger, more pressure and at the time yo-yoing at an alarming rate between the top two divisions. Hammond was recommended by Tony Pulis but he didn’t last long as after a top half finish he was sacked the next Christmas.

Hammond did a bit of recommending himself then and remembered Pardew giving him his first break, he got Pardew in and it was a disaster. One win in 18 games and 4 players pinching a taxi in Barcelona as Albion unravelled.

Hammond came under fire for this and his transfer record. They spent a club record £40m on players when Hammond was there. £26m for Nasser Chadli and Oliver Burke especially eye watering.

West Brom were down in 2018 and fans turned on Hammond to the point where now they find it “laughable” he’s landed the job at United.

Hammond went from frying pan into the fire next with Glasgow Celtic. It was a shock move considering his WBA capers and Celtic is pressure. Big pressure.

This Newcastle job will be, but to understand the Celtic situation will mean he can handle us alright. You have to win everything you enter. If you haven’t , it’s a failure.

They had won EVERYTHING for four years running and fans still rioted in the car park.

You also have to Win everything with a budget described as “watertight” by Celtic supporters.

Hammond joined in 2019 after the departure of Lee Congerton, who at Sunderland signed Ricardo Alvarez who nearly bankrupted them despite never playing and a player who deliberately got the Mackems relegated. Whiff of jobs for the boys with this director of football lark.

Anyways Celtic could see that a Gerrard managed Rangers would succeed eventually despite them losing the plot again and gave Hammond a massive amount of cash for Celtic to see off the cross city threat. £35m was spent on TWENTY players and some of them can rightly be judged as total disasters.

Celtic’s season last year was a landmark one for the wrong reasons. The club fell apart and from the invincible , they went to losing to St Mirren and Ross County at home.

Keeper Vassillas Barkas was bought for £5m and couldn’t catch a cold, Albian Ajeti didn’t score and Boli Bolingoli went on a day trip abroad in lockdown and took the club for mugs.

This may seem pocket money to our owners but you have to put these deals in perspective of Celtics opponents. Clubs like Ross County have a budget of tiny proportions and its surely not hard to find a player for 5m to score. Celtics main gripe with Hammond was his scattergun approach which failed miserably.

He made some good signings, David Turnbull will make Celtic good money but he was a stand out in the league well before he signed, but Hammonds spell at Celtic will be remembered for Shane Duffy. A sure fire bet which was a disaster and who summed up Celtic last season.

Hammond left Parkhead this year as a massive rebuild ensued. Ironically Celtics summer recruitment has been good and Hammond wasn’t missed in the eyes of Celtic fans.

It’s a mixed record then, but Hammond at Celtic may be a key. He was trusted to sign a LOT of players and his remit at Newcastle may be to do the same.

We need this to be a success, so good luck son.

SCOTT ROBSON