Friday night was decent wasn’t it? We saw Wor Lad, Sam Fender on the main stage at Glastonbury (GlasTOONbury) captivating a massive audience with his song-writing brilliance as a selection of B&W flags fluttered in the audience and North Shield’s finest again advertised his football allegiance on-stage.

But better was to come.

Unless something goes badly awry, Sven Botman is on his way to Newcastle United. That was the welcome news as we headed into the weekend.

As I am too used to Newcastle United disappointment than is healthy, I’d given up on this happening because of AC Milan’s keen interest in the lad. I could forgive Botman for having his head turned by the Rossoneri and the overtures of their Technical Director, Milanese icon Paolo Maldini

I mean, howay, its AC Milan, Milano, the San Siro and Paolo Maldini.

For context, AC Milan are reigning Serie A Champions. They will go into next season’s Champions League and the whole world understands their pedigree in that competition as seven time winners.

They of course play in the San Siro in one of Europe’s most vibrant and beautiful cities.

And yet, Newcastle United have faced all of that down and brought the former Ajax academy graduate to St James’ Park from Lille for a fee c.€38m with his personal terms “not thought to be a problem”.

All being well, Botman will have his medical early this week and sign a reported 5-year contract. Gerrin.

This is a sensational signing. Those who have genuine contacts within United report there is complete unanimity between Howe, Ashworth and Nickson at Botman’s quality and potential. That is obviously a sentiment shared by Paulo Maldini and AC Milan.

Botman represents everything the club under its new ownership wants to achieve.

Botman is 22 and with easily 12-13 years in him at the top of football, barring serious injury. He has been scouted in-depth – not just for his playing ability but also his character and professionalism. He has ticked all of those boxes.

Like Bruno, he is not today’s superstar but rather tomorrow’s and the day after that.

Apologies for gushing but I regard Botman as one of the biggest signings the club has ever made. I’d have to go back as far as Alan Shearer in ’96 to recall the club making such a big signing in the teeth of competition from a real heavy-weight giant of football.

Obviously, we had an emotional pull upon Alan Shearer but we don’t have that with Botman. Michael Owen? Nah, despite him begging Liverpool to re-sign him, Rafa wasn’t ever interested with Torres his main man. The field was largely clear.

We now have Botman and Bruno as two parts of a spine that Howe can build a team around to take us into the Champions League in the next 2-3 seasons. These are players who will expect to win trophies. That is why they are here. They have as many expectations of the club as we have of them.

More quality will need to be added in this window and subsequent ones but the success in pulling this transfer off suggests the resources, will, determination and technique to deliver recruitment of this type is all in place.

We have heard Howe speak of evolution over revolution at United but signing players of the calibre of Bruno, Botman and of course Trippier seems pretty revolutionary to us after 14 stagnant years of Mike Ashley’s Zombie club.

This is after all the club that has excited supporters go to watch the windows at SJP being cleaned post-Ashley and celebrates removal of advertising tat like a trophy win.

Botman is of course one of those stellar signings we imagined United would make when the takeover happened but the club’s other business so far this window is impressive too.

We have pulled in Nick Pope from relegated Burnley for what seems to be an incredibly modest £10m fee. Now, you can correct me if you think I’m wrong here but I rate Pope at least the equal of Everton and England ‘keeper Jordan Pickford.

Pickford for all the baiting we give him (and I hope continue to give him) is a fine goalie but I see nothing in his game particularly that elevates him above Pope. It might be very fine margins, though I’m not convinced. I’m sure some will argue, Pope has a greater mental resilience under pressure.

We have brought Pope in aged 30 so he has something like 4-5 seasons at his peak given how later goalies tend to mature. It is a phenomenal bit of business given the experience he has of the PL and again, he passes Eddie’s No Dickhead criteria and we now have two quality goalies at United who will both want to be No.1.

The move to make Villa’s on-loan Matty Targett a permanent signing has been welcomed and rightly so. Targett, like Pope and Burn is a stout Premier League yeoman of the guard.

Trippier fits into that category too but as a veteran of a La Liga title win with Atletico and a seasoned England international, Kieran has some star dust as well. He is many supporters choice to take the captaincy next season – his leadership, his experience, character and aura all see him as a candidate to take the arm-band as Lascelles becomes a more peripheral figure.

In two windows, the defence has been completely upgraded. Two full-backs and two centre-halves with a new goalie have arrived. Before January gone, that back-line was moribund and had barely changed since promotion 6-7 years ago. Now it has the capacity to create a defensive platform for Howe to move his team to the more attacking style he prefers of which we saw vignettes last season (e.g. Arsenal (h)).

The common consensus amongst the informed media is United will sign between 4-6 players this close season. So that’s three down before June’s out (fingers crossed on Botman).

My guess (and it is a guess as I’m resolutely non-ITK) is we may be in the market for two more players.

Clearly, United would like to sign Hugo Ekitike from Reims but all the reports suggest his agent is offering poor advice. The 20-year-old striker has been on United’s list since January and was spuriously linked to Real Madrid. It remains to be seen if the reported interest from PSG is agent-agitated press patter or real. If the PSG interest is real, we have a fight on our hands.

By all reliable accounts, United have agreed a fee with Reims, personal terms aren’t an issue (how I love being able to type that in the knowledge Lee Charnley and Julian Barnes are history at United) so the sticking points are if the lad wants to come and how much the agent gets weighed in.

My reading is it is the latter point is the most substantive issue.

Ashworth-Howe-Nickson are right to look at alternatives because this is THE priority position to be strengthened this window. Obviously any interest we had in Nunez was blown out the water by Liverpool and strikers in that class are out of our reach while we can’t offer Champions League football.

Indeed I would think the Haalands, Nunezs and Mbappes etc are way out of our financial reach given the constraints of Financial Fair Play and related sponsorships rules that appear to have been introduced especially with Newcastle United in mind.

That said, as goals are football’s most valuable commodity and strikers are employed to provide them, I don’t see any alternative but for United to break its own transfer record to bring in sufficient quality in that position.

We’ve seen the club’s name linked with Everton’s Calvert-Lewin, Chelsea’s Werner and Armando Broja who was on loan at Southampton last season and may be subject to a £25m bid from St Mary’s. Others we’ve been linked to are Brentford’s Ivan Toney and even Man U’s Marcus Rashford not to mention Flamego’s Gabriel Barbosa who is being punted to West Ham and Wolves too.

It’s probably best not to sweat this stuff too much as much of this is at the kite flying stage. None appear to be anywhere near advanced.

It has been well-publicised United are in the market for a right-sided attacker as well.

Our name has been linked with Diaby at Leverkusen though he doesn’t seem to fancy it. I really don’t think we have a target that is even at the stage of talking about just yet.

However, if we do get an upgrade in that position, it may mean at least one of Jacob Murphy or Miguel Almiron or Ryan Fraser might be for the off. If it was my choice (which it thankfully isn’t) the lad I’d keep is Ryan Fraser.

Interestingly, I’ve read several pieces suggesting Allan Saint-Maximin is unhappy with his wages (even though they were recently re-negotiated in a new deal) and has attracted the interest of Spurs.

I scratch my head at some of the reporting of Saint-Maximin who has been described as having enjoyed an impressive season. This isn’t altogether my memory given criticism of his lack of defensive work-rate, occasional dramatics and tendency to let his head drop. I don’t recall any other player the Gallowgate End and Wor Flags chose to rally around when he was going through a rough patch other than ASM.

For all of that, ASM has unquestioned talent and may thrive with more attacking players around him. Admittedly, he may equally be able to do that Spurs as United.

As I’m one of life’s cynics I rather suspect ASM’s agent is being opportunistic post-takeover here. Similarly, there’s something in my water that tells me Howe might not be completely heart-broken if he did leave. One to watch possibly.

The last week has seen transfer business step up a gear. That may or not be as a result of Dan Ashworth picking up the reins.

Targett, Pope and Botman are great signings and we can all see the increasing levels in quality being brought into the squad.

The club has done well so far this window and we should trust that to continue. It has to continue. It will continue.

The season can’t come quick enough.

Keep On, Keepin’ On…

Michael Martin – @TFMick1892

Here’s what TF published about signing Sven Botman back in Decemberclick here –