“Three months ago the outlook was rosy for Newcastle fans. Mike Ashley was on his way out, Amanda Staveley and her big-bucks backers were on their way in, and Rafa Benitez was finally going to be handed a transfer kitty befitting his and the club’s status in the game. That would give him the encouragement to sign a new deal and, in turn, push the club back to the levels they were in the heady days when Tino Asprilla’s hat-trick was helping them to Champions League victory over Barcelona.
"Yet here we are, 12 weeks on and with just four days remaining in the transfer window, and none of that has come to fruition. Instead, the future looks distinctly like the past. And that best-case scenario has been replaced by a worst-case one which has neither Staveley nor Benitez anywhere near St James’ Park in the summer, and deeply unpopular Ashley the last man standing. The problem with that for Ashley is that Newcastle supporters were given a taste of what might have been and they liked it. But now it’s a bit like TV show Bullseye – Just look at what you could have won. Unless Ashley ploughs in some serious dough this week, there will trouble ahead on Tyneside.
"Yes, he has already pushed the button on the deal to sign Kenedy on loan from Chelsea and, yes, Islam Slimani is another who could be added to the squad. But adding a player Chelsea don’t want for the next five months and another Leicester City don’t want at all is hardly the major surgery the Newcastle squad so desperately needs. I’m certain Newcastle fans would much rather they were signing their own players, men who want to be at the club for a few years, rather than picking up cast-offs. Anybody is better than nobody, don’t get me wrong, but bringing in loanees until the end of the season is not a long-term solution. Ashley is wealthy enough to make the signings Newcastle need, despite his protests that he can’t compete with the sovereign wealth of some clubs."