Newcastle, New King: Pre-Season
This is part two of this story, told through the eyes of the media. If you missed part one, please click here.
July 3rd, 2017
“… next we move on to Newcastle United” began Sky Sports News presenter Dharmesh Sheth. “We are still a month away from the first game of the season, but new manager Carl Potter is wasting little time as he looks to improve the squad. He has, of course, brought in Mark Bowen as assistant manager, along with four other coaches to complete his backroom team, and now appears to be turning his attention to matters on the field” stated Sheth, before tapping the Sky Pad to display the players linked with a move to Newcastle.
“Newcastle are believed to have had a one-million-pound bid for Phil Jagielka rejected by Everton and manager Sam Allardyce has suggested that they will not allow the defender to leave. So where does that leave last season’s Championship winners? Our sources tell us they are in talks with Arsenal over a deal for Rob Holding. The 21-year old joined from Bolton for two-million-pounds last summer and it is believed that Newcastle will have to pay at least fifteen million to bring him to the North East.
There are rumours that Newcastle are also considering a bid for AC Milan defender Gustavo Gómez for around £10m, but no contact has been made so far” concluded the presenter, before moving on to discuss other clubs in the Premier League.
July 5th, 2017
“Breaking news coming out of St. James’ Park” began Hayley McQueen. “The club has just confirmed the signings of an incredible FIVE players for their youth squad. Spaniards Jacob Espinosa and Luis Vallina and Frenchmen Emanuele Ndoj and Cyril Pignol are joined by Argentinian Abel Páez and they have a combined age of – get this – just EIGHTY. THREE” continued the host; incredulous.
“Four of these players have arrived on free transfers, with only midfielder Ndoj requiring any outlay, arriving for £1m from Italian site Brescia. These arrivals point to a bright future for the club, but also to the fact that new manager Carl Potter stated in his press conference last week that there is not a full transfer budget available. Chairman Mike Ashley has come under fire from fans in recent years for failing to back his managers in the transfer market – a key reason for the departure of former manager Rafa Benitez at the end of last season – and these signings are unlikely to temper those frustrations. Bryan Swanson is here with me in the studio – Bryan, what can you tell us?” asked McQueen.
“Hi Hayley, yes, Newcastle fans are already on social media complaining about the supposed lack of interest in first-team signings. We’ve been hearing rumours of these signings all day and fans are not happy. The club brought in a few players before Potter arrived, but that hasn’t eased the anger aimed at Mike Ashley. There is still time to bring new players in, of course, but the tension is building at St. James’ Park.
August 1st, 2017
BBC’s Chief Football Writer, Phil McNulty, broke the news on the BBC Sport website, as Newcastle United’s new Director of Football, Frank McParland, confirmed the signing of central defender Issa Diop from French side Toulouse. Newcastle fans on social media were quick to praise the club for the acquisition, describing the player as “the most gifted player of his generation”.
“We are very excited to welcome Issa to the club” stated McPartland. “He’s an exciting addition to our young squad and we are confident he will be a huge success. Our manager stated when he signed that the money would be available for the right player and we believe that in Issa Diop, we have acquired a player that will become a mainstay in our defence for years to come” he concluded.
August 12th, 2017
“It doesn’t matter if they beat Dynamo Dresden or Gateshead in pre-season. The real test will be how they perform against Premier League opposition. Carl says they’ve got a squad to finish mid-table… Personally, I don’t think they’ve done enough in the transfer market to get anywhere close to that.”
Those were the scathing words of Charlie Nicholas on the first Soccer Saturday of the 2017/2018 season. “The fans were crying out for the new manager to bring in some fresh faces, but here we are at the beginning of the campaign and they’ve signed one player! That’s not good enough for a team that has come up from the Championship. The Premier League is a different level to what those players are used to, and I think they’re going to struggle” concluded his assessment of the Newcastle squad.
“That’s a bit harsh, isn’t it, Merse? The truth is, Mike Ashley spent around 45 million bringing in the likes of Joselu, Lejuene, Manquillo, Mikel Merino, before Potter arrived, not to mention Kenedy, Slimani and Dubravka on loan. Surely, he has a right to expect the new manager to work with what he’s already got, to some extent, doesn’t he?” asked host Jeff Stelling.
“The problem is, these aren’t the manager’s players. He didn’t sign them, he didn’t – these are probably Rafa’s players. Rafa will have told the board who he wanted before the end of last season, once they knew they were going up. Carl might not want them, but he doesn’t really have any choice. 45 million is a lot for this club and the owner isn’t going to spend if he doesn’t need to” replied Paul Merson.
“Jeff, these fans deserve more for this club. Every week, they fill the stadium to watch their team play. If you look at Liverpool, the fans fill Anfield every week, but the board back the manager and invest in the team. The Newcastle owners don’t, and it’s one of those, Jeff – the previous manager signed those players, as Merse said – and I think Potter thought he would be able to bring in more of his own players” added Phil Thompson.
“Ok, well that game is live tomorrow on Super Sunday. It’s not one of our Super Six, but let’s have some predictions. Tiss, you can have first go.”
“I fancy Newcastle to stay up this season. I think Carl is a great appointment, so I’m going 2-1 Newcastle.”
“I think both of them are going to struggle. Draw.”
“2-1 Watford, Jeff.”
“3-1 to Watford.”
“So a mixed bag from our panel ahead of tomorrow’s game at St James’ Park. This one is part of the first Super Sunday of the season from 12.30 on Sky Sports Main Event.”
There we have it. An eventful pre-season for Newcastle has seen a change in personnel in charge of the first team, a large transfer outlay on players before the new manager took charge and the all-too-regular discontent from the fans. So far, the manager has been underwhelming at best, but with the new season right around the corner, the Newcastle fans are hopeful of a good season. Can Newcastle defy the Soccer Saturday’s prediction of a tough season and achieve the mid-table finish promised by manager Carl Potter?
Join us next time as our journey continues…