I didn’t expect us to get a win at Leeds. In honesty, I didn’t expect to keep a clean sheet either but here we are in one of those glorious moments when a lack of expectation developed following Newcastle United is turned on this very bald head.

Understandably, Howe is desperate for this win at Leeds to provide a starting point in a revival, for his team to build some momentum, gain some points and stay in the division. I think we all can see why he’d want to do that and I hope that happens. Indeed with a very unhappy Everton next up at St James’ Park there’s a chance for United with a bit of wind in their sails winning that game and getting within a point of the Goodison Park club. There is a flicker of hope now.

I will maintain this team needs recruits and fast. That’s before we hear about the impact of the injuries to Joelinton, Dummet and Lascelles from the win at Elland Road. The club’s name has been linked to an exotic array of players over the last few weeks but so far only the magnificent Kieran Trippier and Chris Wood have made the journey to Barrack Road. Both, especially the former have made an impact. I’ll flag that both share the same agent.

I would have expected us to have signed more players by now. I’ll accept the demands some of us made about having six players signed, sealed and delivered in the first week of January were unrealistic. However, no players arrived last week and we are now into the last week of the January window.

Why players haven’t signed just yet no one can accurately detail. News coverage from the more reliable parts of the press suggests players want to come and are happy with the terms offered. The sticking point looks to be in transfer fees and how deals and payments are structured.

I’m not sure if any of this could have been anticipated. But we’re now into the last week of January and the club is yet to appoint a Director of Football or Chief Executive. I can’t say that this doesn’t trouble me.

So far as I can see, Steve Nickson, who I’d associate more readily with the Ashley regime, remains on the inside at the club, helping United make big decisions on the recruitment of players that could have an impact for years to come.

His record so far does not impress given the £40m shelled out to Hoffenheim for Joelinton and a host of other signings including Krafth, Hendrick, Willock, Lewis et al who are yet to demonstrate they are at the level of Premier League footballers. For balance, I understand Eddie Howe is central to the recruitment process which should offer solace given he pushed for Trippier, who is an outstanding footballer and good character.

Currently, we have football novices Amanda Staveley and Mehrdad Ghodoussi in the cock-pit of negotiations to bring players to the club for eye-watering amounts of money to support our survival efforts. Both Staveley and Ghodoussi are de-facto our Director of Football and Chief Executive combined right now.

Very soon we’ll see if those with a 10% stake in the club have bitten off more than they can chew.  Particularly, as Staveley and Ghodoussi dispensed with the services of Owen Brown as a football advisor (previously part of Team Rafa at Newcastle United) and former Celtic and Reading Director of Football, Nick Hammond who was reported to be at the club as a consultant over the January window but left before he joined the SJP tea-club.

In reality, we’d really need a further four or five players this week. Ideally, we’d sign two central defenders and two midfielders for the middle of the park. In addition we really could do with some creativity in the final third.

But I don’t think that’s realistic at this point. So, a minimum of three players might give us some hope of fighting off what would be a very damaging relegation but might set some very uncomfortable criticism for those who got the keys to Newcastle United on that heady night in October 2021.

Much of the club’s malaise can be put at the feet of Mike Ashley’s soul destroying 14-years at the club and Steve Bruce’s inability to maintain PL levels of fitness amongst those he was paid to coach. Let’s not even bother discussing the tactical and team formations which were bereft at United by the time he was paid his eye-watering compensation package. However, not all of it can be laid at the feet of Ashley and Bruce completely.

If we end the window without sufficient recruitment then pointed questions will be directed towards Staveley and Ghodoussi. I would also expect Yasir bin AlRumayyan, Newcastle United and Public Investment Fund Chair-person to have some searching enquiries for the erstwhile husband and wife team running United. Should the worst happen and we are relegated, the value of the PIF investment-value in NUFC be cut substantially then it’s not unreasonable people in down-town Riyadh will want explanations.

Those questions would undoubtedly relate to the failed attempt to appoint Unai Emery as manager, the appointment of Eddie Howe and the non-selection of a Chief Executive and Director of Football. In fairness, we are told those appointments are going through “the process”. I understand the requirement for cool, calm professional recruitment … but … how hard is it to get someone better than Lee Charnley to run the day to day operations at Newcastle United? Who are employees at the club currently reporting into?

But none of this matters to us if three or four stellar arrivals this week and we return refreshed from the Saudi training camp and then beat Everton at SJP. Results change everything and will buy time.

I know some reading this will regard even the mildest questioning of those who have released us from Ashley as tantamount to a form of treachery. But that’s silly. These are just polite enquiries and points about a club we all support. I remain 100% behind the takeover but that doesn’t mean any of us should suspend our critical faculties of analysis and kid on everything is brilliant. It hopefully will be but right now, it all looks a bit of a confused picture.

This is going to be a very big week.

Keep On, Keepin’ On …

Michael Martin – @TFMick1892