Newcastle's transfer strategy is looking chaotic and stressed – the owners must do better

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·6-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Staveley and husband Mehrdad Ghodoussi (left) with newly appointed Newcastle United manager Eddie Howe - Newcastle's transfer strategy is looking chaotic and stressed – the owners must do better - PA
Staveley and husband Mehrdad Ghodoussi (left) with newly appointed Newcastle United manager Eddie Howe - Newcastle's transfer strategy is looking chaotic and stressed – the owners must do better - PA

Despite their big-money owners, Newcastle United have found it hard to close difficult deals in the January transfer window.

There are gaps in a squad that is fighting for survival in the Premier League. Luke Edwards says manager Eddie Howe has delivered so far, but the club need to start getting transfers done and making the most of the January window.

A win must ease the pressure on everyone at Newcastle United?

Eddie Howe has done his part. The win at Leeds was only the second in 11 games as manager and came at a crucial time, following the 1-1 draw at home to Watford and shock FA Cup defeat to League One Cambridge United. It clawed the club to within a point of safety, having played a game fewer than Norwich City directly above them. Given the context and mounting pressure, it was Newcastle’s most important victory for months.

The players have also done their bit. Some of those who have been most intensely criticised were excellent against Leeds. The goalscorer Jonjo Shelvey was the pick of them, but also Fabian Schar, captain Jamaal Lascelles, the recalled Joe Willock, Paul Dummett against the opposition’s best player, Raphinha, as well as substitutes Sean Longstaff and Javier Manquillo, who changed the game when they came on.

Jonjo Shelvey of Newcastle celebrates his goal during the Premier League match between Leeds United and Newcastle United at Elland Road on January 22, 2022 in Leeds, England - Getty Images Europe
Jonjo Shelvey of Newcastle celebrates his goal during the Premier League match between Leeds United and Newcastle United at Elland Road on January 22, 2022 in Leeds, England - Getty Images Europe

As for new signings, Kieran Trippier was magnificent despite a shaky opening ten minutes in front of watching England manager Gareth Southgate. He effectively shut down the in-form Jack Harrison on his own, which largely nullified Leeds’ attacking threat.

The £25 million striker Chris Wood was less eye-catching but Howe loved his work rate and he performed a vital role for the team, dropping deep to cover for Allan Saint Maximin when the Frenchman’s mercurial temperament demanded it.

It was, in short, a very important and impressive win , but it did not ease the pressure on Amanda Staveley, her husband Mehrdad Ghodoussi or consortium partner Jamie Reuben. These are the three people tasked with running the club on behalf of Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund.

Is that not a bit much given they have signed two players this month?

The most noteworthy thing Staveley and Ghodoussi have done this month is become the target for legal action from former Newcastle owner Mike Ashley, who is demanding they pay back the £10m he loaned them to help fund the 10 per cent stake they acquired back in October.

Staveley said in an official club statement in December they were ready for action in “a January transfer window that we have worked tirelessly to prepare for.” As Telegraph Sport pointed out in response, “talk is cheap, signing players is not.”

Newcastle have not done anything like enough. The priority in December was to improve the defence, with a centre back, ideally two, the priority. With a week left in their first window, Newcastle have not addressed that weakness and have wasted two weeks bidding for a player they were told was not for sale, Lille’s Sven Botman, and are in danger of missing out on Seville Diego Carlos too as they will not match the asking price.

They have not made an offer that was too good to turn down, which is how you get your priority targets in January, when clubs do not want to sell key players.

The opening offer for Botman, for example, has been described as “so low, it was basically a waste of energy sending it.” They have shown a worrying naivety and well placed sources have told Telegraph Sport Newcastle are “paying the price for the fact they did not appoint either a CEO or a sporting director before the window opened”.

That has left Staveley and Ghodoussi in charge of the deal making and, unsurprisingly for two people new to football, they have found it tough.

Nobody can fault their effort or commitment, but the squad remains unbalanced and worryingly weak in vital areas. Howe wants at least one centre back, a left back, a central midfield player and another attacking player this week.

In the previous three, Newcastle have only managed to get two deals finalised. Progress has been painfully slow and time is running out.

Given the supposed strength of Staveley was her negotiating ability, it is worth pointing out that Trippier wanted to return to England and Atletico Madrid said they would let him leave. Wood had a release clause in his contract so there was nothing Burnley could do to stop it.

Newcastle have not closed a difficult deal yet and the January transfer window is basically one tricky transfer negotiation after another.

Those tasked with signing players have not had the desired success and if that does not change, they can be justifiably criticised. More than that, they will have let Howe down badly after promising he would be given the tools to succeed in this window. The new regime will have failed its first real test and the risk of relegation increases dramatically.

What are the deals being worked on this week?

There is no point sugar coating things. Newcastle’s recruitment is starting to look a little chaotic and stressed. Whatever plan there was has now been ripped up and they are adapting to what the market can offer.

One source told Telegraph Sport last week that the “situation was changing by the hour” as they try to work out which players they can get, for how much, and whether Howe wants them. There is unity of purpose, but friction will grow if deals continue to be haggled over without a positive outcome.

A nasty looking thigh injury to Joelinton means a box-to-box midfielder has moved up the priority list.

Manchester United forward Jesse Lingard was made the priority towards the end of last week and sources have told Telegraph Sport that they will throw everything at that deal in an effort to make it happen. There was growing confidence over the weekend that it would.

Dele Alli is another loan consideration, as is Leicester City’s Hamza Choudhury, but the real focus needs to be on defenders.

Bayer Leverkusen left back Mitchel Bakker is edging closer to making the move, but the must fill position at the start of the window was centre back.

If the Carlos deal falls through - which it looked like it had last week - there is tentative interest in Feyenoord’s Marcos Senesi and Monaco’s Benoit Badiashile.

This time next week, Newcastle’s owner will either be praised for backing up words with deeds or mounting suspicion they are not capable of delivering the things they said they want to achieve. It is a pivotal moment.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting