Something Must Break…

“Why is everyone so angry, shocked and surprised?”

That was my overriding thought as the clock struck 11pm last night and I surveyed the collective Twitter uproar – having watched it slowly gather pace over the course of thepreceding days, it had now reached boiling point…

Why is everyone so angry, shocked, and surprised I asked myself, when Steve Bruce has continuously tee’d us up to expect this since that sunny afternoon at York City’s LNER Community Stadium back in mid-July.

Why is everyone so angry, shocked, and surprised I asked myself, when we have now collectively experienced almost 30 Mike Ashley inspired transfer windows?

Why is everyone so angry, shocked, and surprised I asked myself, when we have all, collectively come to the conclusion that Lee Charnley is entirely unfit for purpose in his role as MD of our once proud, once great institution?

I can only draw one conclusion…

The anger is due to the fact that the summer transfer window of 2021 is possibly the worst in a myriad of transfer window shitshows endured under the stewardship of Michael James Wallace Ashley.

Why?..

As the 20-21 season drew to a close, it is fair to say, that on the provided we somehow managed to conJoe Willock into returning, NUFC were still in a position where they needed to strengthen in the following positions, as a bare minimum;

  • Centre Forward
  • Central / Defensive Midfield
  • Centre Half

Steve Bruce himself, acknowledged this requirement.

Fast forward 14 weeks, and not only have the powers that be succeeded min failing to deliver the reinforcements in any in any of these critical positions – positions that form the spine of ANY team – but they have also achieved the utterly remarkable feat of further WEAKENING Bruce’s squad in EACH of the positions that he himself admitted needed strengthening.

In the centre forward position, we have seen the back of Andy Carroll and Yoshinori Muto, in midfieldwe have seen the back of Matty Longstaff, at centre half positionwe have seen the back of Florian Lejeune

Now, before you come at me – I do not for one second think that any of the above were likely so see a great deal of first team action this season…but they were additional bodies, additionaloptions in an already threadbare squad.

A threadbare squad that sees our two main goal threats in Wilson and ASM currently appearing to be made from a combination of glass, sticky back plastic and balsa wood.

A threadbare squad that sees our first-choicecentral defensive midfielder (Hayden) currently look frighteningly like I do after running for 20 minutes – dead on his feet.

A threadbare squad that sees our central defenders look like they have now well and truly forgotten everything that they ever learned from the previous incumbent on Barrack Road –  he who should not apparently be named according to some…

Bruce has been hung out to dry in a fashion that even the most pessimistic of us wouldn’t have predicted – if he had any dignity, he’d be gone by this evening. Don’t hold your breath…

Why has he been hung out to dry? Well, Steve Bruce’s NUFC have been outspent by Burnley, Brentford, Southampton, Brighton, Leeds, Norwich, and Crystal Palace–each of these ‘big hitters’will be direct competition in our attempt to bite, scratch and gnaw ourselves to 17th place by the time we reach May 2022.

Admittedly, that additional investment offers our opposition no guarantee of safety, but what it does do create is a mood of positivity in both their respective playing squads and fanbases as they head into the season – and no-one reading this should underestimate the impact a positive dressing room and fanbase can have on a team’s performance on the pitch…you do remember 1994-1997, don’t you?

Mike Ashley’s is known to be the biggest gambler in football,and he may have just placed his most risky bet to date…so, like my wife does when I am at a roulette table, it’d probably be wise to simply close your eyes and hope for the best.

Lee Forster @LeeDForster 

Same old, same old…

The bare minimum looks to have been a step to far for the Newcastle hierarchy. Every man and his dog knew what Newcastle needed this summer to build on last season. But yet again the “football genius’s” that run our club, they decided to ‘box clever’ and not improve the squad in any shape.

Yes, the permanent signing of Joe Willock was a bonus, if not a complete shock that it wasn’t a loan deal. But that needed to be built upon, there needed to be some sort of idea to progress, even if it was to secure mid-table again. We needed a midfield enforcer to support our fragile defence, and help break down the many, many attacks we will face every game! We needed a decent centre back to make us more solid at the back, someone with a voice to make sure everyone was tracking their man and could start attacks from the back.

But as is always the case with Newcastle, it felt like all these calls for improvements were being shouted into the void. The excuses bingo cards are at the ready. I fail to accept that a Premier League side had a maximum of £10 million to spend, when newly promoted sides were spending closer to £50 million.

Joe Willock should have been the start, and Santi Munoz should have been a fun side note, but when that is the whole window, it is an utter embarrassment. Add to the fact we have paid a reported £3.5 million loan fee for a player that will be playing in the under 23’s, never mind actually loaning a player for the u23’s, shows how much of a joke the club have become. Yet the money could not have been used to loan players for the first team.

You sort of got a feeling the window would be a failure when Steve Bruce started mentioning naming FOUR keepers in the 25-man squad! He had given up then by all accounts. Add that into the fact we have replaced Andy Carroll in the squad with Freddie Woodman, we are only a couple of injuries away from full self-destruct!

Carl Richardson @Carl_TftG

 An All-Too Familiar Feeling

The transfer window left Newcastle fans with an all-too familiar feeling of disappointment and dread. Pals who are usually bullishly optimistic are now worried that we will be relegated.

The window was also a classic example of the complete lack of normality at how NUFC is run, with conflicting stories right up until the eleventh hour. Here’s my attempt at unpicking it:

  1. Bruce is supposedly in charge of transfers

Bruce confirmed to the media back in 2019 that he is in control of transfers – he has the final say in who comes in and who goes out.

  1. Bruce knew he needed a midfielder and a defender

Even after getting Mike Ashley to go “above and beyond” to sign Willock, Bruce told the media he still wanted a midfielder and a defender to strengthen the first team.

  1. Bruce sanctioned transfers for Matty Longstaff and Florian Lejeune

Despite publicly stating that defence and midfield were two areas where NUFC needed to strengthen, Bruce agreed to the sale of Lejeune and to loan out Little Longstaff. While hindsight is always 20/20, why would any sane manager or head coach further weaken areas that he knew needed more bodies, before making moves to bring those players in?

  1. There was a loan fee available for a kid to play in the reserves

If the usually reliable Athletic is to be believed, NUFC paid a loan fee somewhere in the region of £3.5m to land Mexican wonderkid Santiago Munoz. That’s £3.5m for a lad allegedly with bags of potential, but who will play in the reserves.

  1. There was no loan fee for Hamza Choudhury

Bruce’s interest in Leicester’s unwanted midfielder is well documented and he’s tried to get this deal over the line multiple times. Last night’s desperate attempt descended into farce, with Bruce trying on his own to get it done, despite the club confirming that they had no plans for any further business.

And this is where perhaps we should have sympathy for Steve. Given his determined pursuit of Choudhury, would he have signed off on Munoz instead of the Leicester midfielder? That seems highly unlikely. The more obvious conclusion is that Charnley went behind Bruce’s back on this one. It could be a betrayal that has serious repercussions for the club as the squad is left weaker than it was in May, while every other club has invested. It is too early to make predictions; but given the poor start to the season it is easy to see why so many fans are concerned that we’re already in another relegation battle.

  1. Silver lining? Jones is back!

I appreciate I am probably clutching at straws here, but barring Willock, the one piece of positive news for the club during this window was about Graeme Jones. The mastermind of last season’s success announced in August he has stepped down from his England role to focus on NUFC – and that might be the difference this season in the battle to stay up.

It’s obvious to me that the diamond formation of last season and the 5-3-2 with a press which helped us achieve 12th place were Jones’ work. The 5-3-2 isn’t working now, we’ve been found out, and we urgently need a tactical Plan B before too many points slip through our fingers. Based on last season, can we have confidence in Jones to deliver the goods? Right now, he feels like our only hope.

Dan Jenkins  @PlumsGinger

Well, that was a shit show!

Our esteemed Baron of Bacon has been warning us since we apparently “broke all the rules” by making Joe Willock our second highest outlay ever behind the esteemed Big Jow!

What the fuck did Bruce mean when he said we’d “broken all the rules” in signing Joe? Was it that he’d spent more than his alleged £10m budget for the summer? Nope, that’s not it! The reality is that we are paying for the former Gooner over 5 years, so essentially, the income from the sale of Florian Lejeune and the sell on clause that we inserted into the Adam Armstrong deal when we flogged him to Blackburn has made the first payment on the deal.

Where the frig has the money gone? We sold or released Lejeune, Carroll, Muto, Saivet, Aarons, Lazaar and Sorensen, have loaned out Matty Longstaff and a host of U23 players.

One solitary first team player has arrived to “bolster” the ranks. The same player that we finished last season with! One bloody player!!!!

We are desperately short of an imposing centre half, a centre midfielder with legs, a left back, probably a right back and definitely a backup striker (unless Bruce is planning on bringing in new recruit Santiago Munoz as cover!)

Who in the wide wide world of professional football sanctions a £3.5m, 18-month loan for a 19 year old Mexican striker with a relatively crap goalscoring record for his former club, but cannot get the loan deal of Hamza Choudhary over the line as we wouldn’t pay a fee?

Craig “The Banned” Hope intimated last night that the hierarchy (do we have one?) left Bruce to his own devices to try and tie up a couple of loans. While this sounds a bit sensationalist, you could just picture it!

So, we end the window as we ended the season. Woefully short of both first teamers and back-ups. Ashley has, once more, taken the royal piss out of our club and I, for one, am fucking sick of it!

Meanwhile, across the PL, everyone else has spent the cash that Covid has allegedly denied us at little old Newcastle United. What a pile of horseshit! TV income is at an all-time high and Ashley is raking it in! We have the poorest billionaire in the PL. Could only happen to us right?

Take a stand Mr Bruce and go now! Or are you complicit as the archetypal “yes man?” You might have spent over £100m since you took the helm, but you’ve been royally shat on from a great height this summer!

Is this Ashley’s biggest gamble yet? Only time will tell, but strap yourself in lads and lasses, it’s gonna be a long old season. Will Bruce see it out? I’ll let the readers decide!

Paul Karter @peekeekay