Don't want to Harp on about transfers but...

By Lee Ryder on Jul 27, 07 08:05 AM

If Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley didn't know that the need to strengthen his squad has reached emergency status, he does now.

Michael Owen and Kieron Dyer - who appears to have reached the end - watched on from the stands in the 4-1 win over Celtic.

But the fact that Newcastle ended the night with just EIGHT regular outfield players on the field underlined just how weak the squad is going into the season.

Steve Harper ended the night in attack and Tim Krul could well have joined him as Newcastle finished with 10 players following Steven Taylor's injury.

And considering youngsters like James Troisi, Andy Carroll, Matty Pattison and David Edgar were in that number, Ashley's need for new blood has never been greater.

To be fair to Glenn Roeder, he knew 12 months ago his squad was not strong enough and we know how last season turned out.

Fair enough, we welcomed four new players in over the summer but already we've lost Joey Barton out of that tally.

And with Olivier Bernard, Titus Bramble, Craig Moore, Oguchi Onyewu, Pavel Srnicek, Kris Gate, Antoine Sibierski, Scott Parker and Alan O'Brien also gone the squad is now weaker than it was - in terms of numbers.

And last night simply rubber stamped that when Steve Harper appeared in a specially prepared number 13 shirt.

Conspiracy theorists have already pointed out that this could be a ploy from Big Sam to show the new owner and chairman Chris Mort just how paper thin this squad is.

With Ashley's millions, Newcastle should be able to attract any player on the planet to the club, if they can twist that club to sell.

But at least five new faces are needed at SJP and quickly.

And if signing a big name is out of the question for whatever reason, Newcastle cannot afford to go into the final day of the transfer window like they did 11 months ago.

A long day of attempts to buy players from the previous board, combined with a reluctance from the previous manager to go along with certain plans, resulted in the signings of Seppe Rossi and Antoine Sibierski, oh and then Oli Bernard on a free the next day when the window slammed shut.

A starting XI of say, Given, Carr, Rozehnal, Taylor, N' Zogbia, Solano, Geremi, Butt, Milner, Viduka and Owen with a bench of Harper, Martins, Huntington, Edgar and Shola, is not a bad side.

But if players start dropping like dead flies again like last night and last season, it could be a long hard winter.


john gilroy said:

As I said in a recent reply.
Mike Ashley, has as yet, put nothing into the transfer kitty. The money from selling Dyer Will mean that Ashley can keep his hands in his pockets a little longer. NOT LONG TO THE TRANSFER DEADLINE MIKE

john gilroy said:

As I said in a recent reply.
Mike Ashley, has as yet, put nothing into the transfer kitty. The money from selling Dyer Will mean that Ashley can keep his hands in his pockets a little longer. NOT LONG TO THE TRANSFER DEADLINE MIKE

terry wiseman said:

We need players now?
Two weeks till the start of the season and we are thread bear again for the new season?, while we have spent the summer trying to get players free the rest of the premiership has been spending big, except for Everton.
is there a problem with money or is this the way we are going to go forward with Ashley??

Snapper said:

Glad we have not rushed in to buy every unemployed player on the planet e.g. Portsmouth and Fulham, even Sunderland 5 mil for Chopra due me a favour, however, I wish that there were some signs that we, are, at least, in for talented players. Quite rightly its pointed out our defensive frailty, contineus from past seasons. We have not played a pre season friendly yet and kept a clean sheet.

Gareth Jones said:

After a lightening quick(And very pleasing)start for transfers the panic button is once again in reach - we can't afford to stand still.With the amount of money being spent by other clubs it's going to be difficult to get in the top half never mind the top six.

tony tolhurst said:

The reason given for our recent non activity in the transfer market is that the new owners are doing a thorough examination of the whole operation before releasing transfer funds. Do me a favour! Who do they think they are kidding who spends what they spent on the club without doing that exercise before purchase. Have they never heard of due diligence.Methinks we are been led up the garden path. More woe ahead for us mags I fear

tony tolhurst said:

The reason given for our recent non activity in the transfer market is that the new owners are doing a thorough examination of the whole operation before releasing transfer funds. Do me a favour! Who do they think they are kidding who spends what they spent on the club without doing that exercise before purchase. Have they never heard of due diligence.Methinks we are been led up the garden path. More woe ahead for us mags I fear

David Dunn said:

Panic buys have done so much damage at NUFC in the past, Allardyce and Mort will be well aware of our deficiancies but from the previous posts I see some have still not learnt from the mistakes of the past.


I always thought Sven was not 'IT' for Newcastle retrospect he has come out of the blocks like a mean "junk yard dog' Come on Sam do the business, or else we will start refering to you as half-hearted Sam instead of Big Sam!!!!!!!!


A club is either going forwards, standing still, or going backwards. We all know which direction we were going in last season! We are heading the right way now: but we need to see new signings very soon, otherwise we will all be getting anxious again. Dyer will not be missed; let's hope the injection of funds will be well spent.

Terry Seacy said:

Time is running out for purchasing quality players. It is a fact of life that the transfer market has tripled in the last 3 years.
I was very pleased to see Mike Ashley take over(sort of a British Abramovich) so dig deep and if we can get 5 million for Dyer then that at least should assist us to buy at least one world class defender. Here is hoping that Sam can have some luck this week.

Chris Wall said:

The new board have said they are going to invest on the playing side so why aren't we seeing it, its no surprize that you can still see advertisments for season tickets when nothing much has changed on the defensive side of players. On a positive note if Big Sam can get the players that he has identified I myself am looking forward to this season, Thursdays game against Celtic showed us one major diffference already from last term and that was how Newcastle worked as a unit more and closed and pressured the opposition down quicker then i've ever witnessed. If Allardyce is beginning to get the dressing room all pulling in the same direction and the board pull their finger out quickly and back him I personally think Newcastle United could be a force this season. p.s very impresssed with Geremi and how calm and composed Rozenhal is.

Mick Wears said:

Enjoy the moment, dont panic, the Celtic fans faces were a picture on the night. Keep the Faith. Newcastle United - Jersey, Channel Islands. "Toon Toon Black n White Army"

Paul Patterson said:

The squad that started against Celtic was pretty good and the performance was a minor sensation, crisp passing which has been missing since Keegan left in January 97 and great finishing (Well done Luque on that one)

Reading between the lines I saw Big Sam making a statement to the Chairman, “That’s what I can do with the weak squad we have now, but lets see what I can do with four or five more players�

Dyer’s as good as his name suggests, (Imagine if he stops for two more years - How many of us would be stampeding the ticket office for his Testimonial?
Whoever told him he was a professional footballer needs shooting.

Back in the 70’s if Mr Dyer had emerged at a boys club, the man in charge would take one look at him in a match and say “Hey young Keiron, go and join your local running club�

The same man would probably have said to Titus Bramble “Hey Titus, go and join your local Amateur Boxing Association�

Sadly we paid £10m+ for the pair.

This season, Im really quite positive, but this hinges on us getting on board two full backs, a centre back and an attacking midfielder.


Steven Jackson said:

This is ridiculous, what are we doing waiting around? Surely the likes of Baines and Shorley would agree to joining us? Please Mr Ashley finishing in the lower half of the table because of a paper thin squad in NOT good busnisess for our club.

dave b said:

I think the most alarming thing is that some players who Allardyce has had permission to speak to didn't want to come to Newcastle

ron Winstanley said:

WHAT has happened to the sky money that united got, no one seems to wonder were has that gone.But it was a huge amount so who has it in their pocket

funlovingexpress said:

It is true that Olivier Bernard, Titus Bramble, Craig Moore, Oguchi Onyewu, Pavel Srnicek, Kris Gate, Antoine Sibierski, Scott Parker and Alan O'Brien all left the team but Olivier Bernard, Pavel Srnicek, Kris Gate and Alan O'Brien were no where near the first team (the odd and I mean odd game excluded).

This means that a total of five first teamers have left.

Michael Owen will play this year, Albert Luque is also back plus the signings of Geremi, viduka, rozenhall and Barton brings a total of 6 'new' players who were not available last year for us.

In my eyes we now have a stronger squad. The deadwood has been got rid of and replaced with quality.

On top of that we will no doubt sign another four to six players with at least 3 of them being defenders.

This is a healthy team.

Duncan Baines said:

The last few summers we seem to sell twice as many players as we buy. How many centre backs do we have now? It's pathetic. We must have quite a low wage bill compared to our rivals.

sean peterson said:

whats happening at the club?, during and just after the takeover, the talk coming out of the club was about who the transfer targets were and how much money the club had to spend.with the start of the season looming large, talk today, as of 29th july, was of putting bids in for faye from bolton and diop from fulham. do they not learn from past errors at gallowgate????, sorry but players of that calibre are not what the club needs to go onto to challenge the top 4 clubs. dont know whats happening behind the scenes or indeed who they have been trying to buy but for gods sake lets see some players that other clubs are vexed about selling and not who they have helped out the door.

Little Kev, Whitley Bay said:

I read your article Lee with interest, however I have another slant on your story. Have you ever considered that Ashley/Mort don't want Sam as manager? They promise him £50m, now it's down to £10m. They're trying to put KK in as Director of Football (more decisions away from Sam). They want their own man in I think.


Hi Lee. Well as you know from my previous posting a couple of days ago my feelings on the restrictions of transfer money are becoming a reality,I said then I felt Sam would be selling Dyer in order to generate funds and I now feel that is exactly the case. I bet Sam is now thinking he should have stayed st Bolton. Mr. Mort and Mr. Astley now need to take a reality check. I said I thought Sam had one hand tied behind his back when it came to transfer money and now it is patently obvious to all concerned that he has.If we have another season like last season I think Messrs Mort and Astley will be in for a big shock from the fans.They really need to have a very robust wake up call. If Mr. Astley is such a good business man he must surely know that success on the field will generate the best income and therefore business success. I think its a poor show when a manager of Sams calibre has to declare publicly that he is not getting the financial support he needs to do the job. One thing for certain it wont be Sam feeling the heat if things go wrong and where we are at the moment signifies Sam is going to be more than pushed to get it right. Mr. Mort and Mr. Astley have not seen a disgruntled Geordie Army yet- me thinks they are in for the experience of a lifetime which will be far from pleasing to them. As I said some days ago we the toon army wont be fooled.

toon said:

I hope people arent hanging their hopes on an influx of transfer cash following Dyers seemingly inevitable departure.Any deal will be heavilly tied to appearances with a minimal up front. There are few clubs desperate enough to buck that arrangement. It needs the new owners to stump some money for the manager, or mid table obscurity beckons

Brainwashed said:

Fans are right to be asking why Mr C'Ashley has not given Big Sam money for players. The comment from his spokesman Monsieur Mort that a full review of the Club was being undertaken before funds are available is, frankly, nonesense! That review is called 'Due Diligence' and is done before you pay £100 million to buy the business! Certainly Mr C'Ashley would not have bought the Club without knowing the exact financial position.

Monsieur Mort may be called Chairman but he must do exactly what he is told by his employer who is well known in the business world for firing anyone who disagrees with him. The owner admits his sport is Squash, not football and Monsieur Mort is probably a good 'takeover' solicitor but will take a long time to understand the business of football so Big Sam is likely to be very frustrated over many matters. If BS is as strong a person as he appears I think it will be impossible for him to work for the new owner for long. This will be a pity as the most impressive thing in the last few weeks has been Big Sam's refreshing and professional approach to preparing us for the new season.

andy s said:

New players needed. better than we have is the point. Yes blindingly obvious. This costs money. If the players you are selling are not good enough then the new better players will cost more. Simple as that. Better includes those who want to come and play for the club as well as have the talent.Better regime means not taking the fans for granted and engineering an impossible situation for the current manager. Either put up or get rid of him if thats what you want and get the poeolpe in you surely must know you will have to bank role if you want to compete with the top two.There is more to it than money but it is sadly the major factor.I dont particularly want to get rid of alardice either.

Charlie said:

We dont need any strikers and the people we lost didn't play most of the time anyway. When we have Emre and Duff back our midfield will be solid though Danny Murphey from Tottenham would be a good buy, cheap and reliable. I wish Geremi could be two players and play midfield and in the back four. He is gear! A Left and a Right back are vital. Carr is soo easy to turn and so crap in the final moments when crossing or passing if he attacks.Baba... well less said the better. Jose had it right when he sold him so should we if we can.

Rob -- Baku Azerbaijan said:

Hi Lee
I am getting a bit worried and concerned re-our new board not fronting the money to Big Sam to get in the players we need, what is going on within SJP? Has any news come out of the talks he held yesterday with Mort on the subject? the board are leaving it alarmingly late in getting the cash on the table. Is it that they are trying to work him out and bring in their own man? or is there a cash flow problem. I just wish that they would come clean with us long suffering suppoters and tell us what is going on. They own the club but without us they are nothing.

JC said:

Lee, as a reporter for the local press do you not feel that yourself or Oliver should start posing some serious questions to the Ashley/Mort regime? I was full of optimism when Ashley took over, but now.... well lets just say it's disappointing. Sir John Hall said at the time that there were 'many approaches' but he held off stating Mike Ash was the right man. NOTHING so far convinces me of this. I really worry that he wont give Allardyce a chance, it's clear that there is no utopia between board and manager, Allardyce must feel like he's back at Bolton. Though least he had the full confidence of that chairman. Questions need to be asked and Lee, you seem to be a fan of Sam's (unlike your colleague). Say what you want about FS but at least he backed his managers with cash. I fear another looooong season looms!

Ryder's reply: When the new man at Newcastle came in, the people around him told us he would think and spend big.
That has not happened so far.
Allardyce has worked miracles at Bolton with nothing in terms of cash, surely a kitty of £20-£25million would be enough to get the club on the right road again.

JC said:

I agree, 20-25million and we could be flying. The ambition of Allardyce is clear, and he's obviously confident (as am I) in his ability to bring success to the club. Could these same people that promised us big money and signings not be re-addressed and asked what's happened. I read with interest the stories circulating that Ashley wants to sell Newcastle. Wouldn't be out of character, he did the same with a stake in Adidas. Dyer, Martins and N'Zogbia would be three SERIOUS losses for the club. Especially when it looks like we will struglle to get the necessary quality to replace them. One last point, I dont buy the story that they found something in the club accounts that have made things complicated. Come on... This guy is a Billionaire, he would not invest the amount of money in purchasing Newcastle he has if he had any concerns. We need answers not rumours

Peter said:

Has anyone in Newcastle checked out the organisation and performance of Mike Ashley's Sports Direct recently? His AGM was recently described as a "Shambles" in the Financial Times after their share price had collapsed. To wit his response was that he "had balls of steel". God help Newcastle.

Terry Seacy said:

I am sure that Mike Ashley has some plans to give Sam the money to buy the players he requires. It is getting late in the day but if the idea is to make offers to players they cannot refuse financially then the wait will have been worth it. People like Mike Ashley have too much pride to see their business ventures fail, and this is a business venture.There are still some quality players available and I am sure we will not be short when it comes to kick off.
My wife and I will be making our annual visit to the UK from Sydney Australia to watch the Wigan game and by then we will have played 4 matches which should give us some idea of the future for this season.


Lee Ryder

Lee Ryder - Proudly born and bred on Tyneside, the Chronicle's chief sports writer has followed the fortunes of the club over the last three decades as a Toon fan and football writer.

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