How will Newcastle United’s hierarchy change football?
Written by Ryan Knight
It is safe to say, Newcastle has a lot of money, and I mean a lot. But how do a club fighting in a relegation battle a mere 6 months ago take things to the pastures new which their fans, the media and the rest of the public expect? Also, what have they done so far?
Upon the opening of the 2021/22 January transfer window (the first in which they had the money from the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund) Newcastle United were placed 19th, just a point ahead of Norwich City. Things were dire. Just 1 win in 19 gave newly appointed Eddie Howe a mountain to climb. This turned very quickly however with the signing of Atletico Madrid’s Kieran Trippier a week into the window for a fee of £12 million. The fairly low price of Trippier’s signature sparked questions of the wage and whether ‘it was all about the money’, which the player denies.
With the Toon army revelling in the excitement of a World Cup star in their side, it didn’t take long to appoint another key individual. Chris Wood signed a £25 million deal with the magpies only 6 days after Trippier. However this transfer seemed to be less about reputation and a big name in the squad, it felt to be more tactical than that. Wood was a part of a similarly struggling Burnley side who were on equal points to Newcastle at the time. What this signing allowed was for a new out-and-out striker to be in the Geordies lineup while taking out a relegation rivals forward in one fell swoop. Wood however didn’t achieve the highest of accolades this season accumulating only a pair of goals in 17 appearances.
With a new ethos and new faces among the line ups, Howe’s refresh began. With a 1-1 to Watford on the 15th January followed by 1-0 away win at Leeds, hope was the flavour of the half time pies in and around St James Park.
With the closing of the window only a day away and rumours flying everywhere, Sunday 30th January saw the principal signing of the window, Lyon’s Bruno Guimaraes. The 24 year old was a box to box phenomenon in Ligue 1 and was destined to go to any of England’s top 6, however, he chose upon the developmental route paved by Howe and the rest of the magpies. According to ChronicleLive.co.uk , Guimaraes explained, “If a club has a project and wants to aspire to the maximum, then it’s going to involve winning the Champions League”. A bold outline in a tale waiting to be told. The Brazilian was by far one of the best in Newcastle’s lineup, topped off by a notable brace in their home win over Leicester City in April. Although some big names were shifted into the side, there were more changes to be made.
On deadline day, they signed both Aston Villa full back Matt Targett (albeit on loan) and Brighton Centre Back Dan Burn. These signings capped off a window that covered nearly all bases, spending around £90m on a squad reform. While frowned upon by some, Newcastle clawed their way out of trouble to finish 11th. As I mentioned, they only had a single win to their name after 19 games, by the end of the campaign, they had 13, 12 more per 19 game stint.
While Newcastles ‘reverse moneyball’ strategies seem to be working, what does this mean for the wider world of the sport?
When every big name player is rumoured to leave a club, the Toons are nearly always allegedly in the running. In the case of the potential upcoming transfer of Sven Botman from Lille, Howe and the club are beating the competition, in this case the Italian giants AC Milan. We are likely to see more and more of this as time goes on. Football will have to realign themselves with a club not even in European club competition that can have a say in where the next wonderkid goes. Football will have to wait to see whether money can really buy happiness and success. But for now, the aura of a project, a club with cash to spend and owners wanting trophies to show for it; Newcastle have the makings of becoming a superpower in the sport. They are able to surpass most other clubs with a wad of dosh in the hopes of building a team capable of the dreams in which key signing Bruno Guimaraes clearly set out: “winning the champions league”.