That’s the whole season over, with everything sorted. For Newcastle United, we’re into different territory now and although the transfer window hasn’t yet opened, there is lots of work underway to strengthen Eddie Howe’s squad for next season’s campaign.

The club’s name is being linked with all manner of players, some of which I’m sure have some credibility and others that are the figment of someone’s imagination or vague connections being made by clubs and agents to whip up interest in their clients. Sometimes it is hard for supporters to make distinctions and I’m sure this is partly true for clubs who are used to drive up bids and wages on offer.

For me, one of the most welcome pieces of news came from Martin Hardy of The Times (a journalist who can be relied upon to provide news in good faith and reporting rigour) is that United and Brighton may be on the point of reaching agreement on a compensation package so Dan Ashworth can start work as Director of Football at SJP. Hopefully, we’ll get to learn more about this in the coming week but it strikes me as something as extremely necessary because the weight of negotiations and detail of contracts seems to have been left to Eddie Howe, which isn’t particularly practicable or desirable.

There is absolutely nothing being whispered about just yet regards the appointment of a Chief Executive and a team to work for him/her and the subject seems to have slipped from the media’s radar. No-one seems knows a thing about where this is at. Similarly, we are no further forward with the announcements of sponsorship deals, though it may be wise to delay any announcements until we’ve made some signings so selling clubs don’t know what’s happening with the money coming into United.

Most of our attention however has been distracted by the talk of potential new players coming into United. This is where the square of modest spending as outlined by Howe himself and echoed by reliable journalists is difficult to circle with a glut of players linked to the club.

At a rough guess, we’ve been linked with about £200m’s worth of players in the first week since the end of the season. Possibly more!

Personally, my intuition tells me there is something in the patter linking us to Lille’s Danish central defender, Sven Botman, who we were close to signing in January but subsequently appeared to be drifting towards the San Siro.

Were we to pull this off and out-manoeuvre, Serie A Champions and European football royalty, AC Milan, I think we can put that deal on the same level of the Guimarães signing for The Mags in the teeth competition from Juventus and Arsenal.

Similarly, I’m not completely dismissing talk of Renan Lodi of Athletic Madrid. United have made no overt statement about following up Matty Targett’s loan deal by making it permanent and there is noise linking him to Fulham. Lodi will be aware Kieran Trippier swapped Madrid for Newcastle in January so the contact there is obvious.

Like Botman (22) and Guimarães (24), Lodi (24) is in the right-age bracket we seem to be most seriously focused upon for the big money signings and that principle reaches across to other rumoured targets with Moussa Diaby (22) at Bayer Leverkusen. Similarly, Bruno’s mate Lucas Paquetá (24) at Lyon falls into that category too.

The Uruguayan Darwin Núñez (22) is one of Europe’s most coveted strikers is reportedly on a United target list we are reportedly pursuing with Benifica. He’ll have his pick of clubs and without any kind of European football on offer at SJP, we might be an outside bet. Who knows though – never say never!

That’s six players in total and I’ve not mentioned Dean Henderson (25), the Man U goalie who we’ve been connected to since January.

All these players seem viable and in the positions we need to cover. But were we to sign all of them that would blow talk of a modest transfer outlay out of the water and then some.

That takes us to look at more modest targets. We’ve been linked to James Tarkowski (29) who is now available on a free from Burnley following their relegation.  Tarkowski is in demand with links to Villa and Everton, the latter that have been reported to be willing to pay £120K pw for him. The Goodison Park club don’t appear to be waking up to the idea of financial good husbandry do they?

Then there’s Jesse Lingard, who it was reported wanted to come to United from Old Trafford in January, but was prevented from doing so by the Red Devils. We appear to have cooled our interest in him and it appears West Ham is of a similar mind on the back of his demands for £180K pw. These are big numbers for players who aren’t assets in terms of transfer value and I think we all agree we won’t wish to become a home for pension top-up purposes.

Like Howe, we want hungry, young players with their best years ahead of them.

There are exceptions of course. Trippier’s attitude and attributes, not least his experience is a massive addition but having centre halves Burn (30), Schar (30) Lascelles (28) with the addition of Tarkowski (29) doesn’t spell out a long term strategy to have a team that grow together. That’s why I wasn’t particularly arsed that Diego Carlos (29) went to Villa from Seville. We need younger blood in that position and that’s another attraction for Botman.

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A good bit of business this last week was Sean Longstaff (24) signing a contract extension for another three years. That means we’ll have the best years of Longstaff’s career and he’ll be 27 when his contract expires. I had felt it wasn’t going to happen for the North Shields lad and that he was at risk of losing his way. But those last two games of the season, particularly the Arsenal (h) game showed the pre-Bruce Longstaff. We all hope the lad can train on now under some decent coaching as opposed to Bruce and his days off.

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A nice bit of good news this week was more money going into the staff’s pockets at Newcastle United. Under Ashley everything was cut to the bone and that will have included the people at the club who keep the wheels turning on a day to day basis. This won’t have cost the club a load of money but in the teeth of a cost of living crisis it is great to see the club looking after its people. Well done. Sadly, the media won’t recognise this.

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Thousands of fans are waiting with baited breath about what happens with a release of season tickets this close season. Since the takeover demand to get into SJP for matches has gone through the roof. I don’t think it is hyperbole to say United could be selling out a 65,000 capacity right now and in the not too distant future it isn’t inconceivable that number could go north of 70,000. We already know there is a 400+ waiting list for executive boxes at SJP and there is no way of satisfying that demand within the SJP footprint right now.

The Newcastle United Supporters Trust has obviously been leading the way in gathering member opinion on the subject – click here for results of their latest survey – click here

but all in all, I don’t envy the task of achieving this even if my own position would be to allow those who chucked it when Rafa left to have first refusals on any new season tickets that now become available. It’s not an easy task to achieve. We’ll have to wait and see what happens.

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The club has announced two attractive home friendlies with Italian side Atalanta and Basque club Athletic Bilbao (who many of us remember fondly from the UEFA Cup fixture of the mid-90s as well as Rob Lee’s testimonial). Sadly, the US tour United had planned has been cancelled so we’re looking at what that might be replaced with and potential trips abroad to follow The Toon get up to speed – hopefully with several new players to get a look at.

Until then we’ll wish our lives away, waiting to see what happens in one of the most exciting summers in memory.

This certainly beats where we were twelve months ago,

 Keep On, Keepin’ On …

 Michael Martin, @TFMick1892