Newcastle United have been the big movers in this January transfer window. With four players brought in that are expected to start, or at least challenge to start, we are left to wonder what the heck is happening at Tyneside. This is a team with a famously stingy owner, who is content to take more money out of the club than he is putting in. But, with the window slamming shut last night, Newcastle have dropped at the very least £29m. Has Mike Ashley realized he needs to invest to stay in the Premier League, or is this just him panicking? The big question is – can we expect this kind of spending from Newcastle?
Clearly, going into the transfer window, Newcastle knew that reinforcements were needed. Jonjo Shelvey was brought in quickly, as was the versatile Henri Saivet. Andros Townsend and Seydou Doumbia were next, rounding out the attacking reinforcement for Newcastle. It was who they didn’t land that showed their January ambition, though. Throughout January, Newcastle attempted to sign players all over the park. Between the fullbacks in Siqueira and Enrique (both moves fell through as Siqueira chose elsewhere and Enrique is free in the summer) and the forwards in Saido Berahino and Alexandre Lacazette, to the midfielders they actually bought, Newcastle were trying to bring in a whole new team. It was reported that they were willing to purchase Lacazette for £20m before being told he was not for sale. They outbid Tottenham for Saido Berahino with a £22m bid on deadline day. Newcastle didn’t just bid for a lot of players, they bid BIG.
Don’t get excited, though. This isn’t the first time that Newcastle dropped cash in the transfer market. In the 2013 January transfer window, when they were also in the panic mode, Newcastle signed six starters in the Geordie French Revolution. A total of £18.1 was spent. We should also mention the windows where Newcastle dropped £23.85m spent in the summer of the 2011/12 season, or the £35.4m in the summer before the 2014/15 season. Those windows show that Newcastle can spend, but the owner needs to be pushed to show the ambition. In the two summer windows where they’ve spent big, it was because Newcastle ended the season previously in a stronger position. When they’ve spent in the January window, like this season, it is because they are doing awful.
In both cases, it is the extreme cases, where Ashley wants to or is forced to spend, not when it is best for the club. In both cases, it is rarely a planned, methodical spending. Generally, it is a frenetic, scattershot buying spree, where some will turn out to be great purchases and some will fade into obscurity. That’s why this window should come as no surprise, or comfort for Newcastle fans. It may save you from the drop, but Ashley has shown himself to be utterly inept at owning a club, especially one with the size and fanbase of Newcastle.