Sometimes you get the feeling the film 'Groundhog Day' was a precursor to life as a Newcastle fan this time of year. It is of course the annual winter transfer window, or as the hierarchy at the club call it 'January'. It is a time when talk of Mike Ashley finally selling the club intensifies, and we are linked with more loan deals than a payday loan advert.
This is the month when pessimism intensifies among the Toon Army faithful. Is there any point in watching the Transfer Centre on Sky Sports News, Twitter is just attaching us with unheard foreign players, or a slight grasp at some decent players that may be available and Newcastle's name is attached to those interested. Would there be a transfer window where we were not linked with either Andy Carrol or Andros Townsend?
Of course there is the yearly rumours of a takeover is close, but either the money isn't there to buy the club or an agreement can't be reached. Last year a photo of perspective buyer Amanda Stavely and Mike Ashley leaving a curry house in London was leaked to the press to get our hopes up, this year it is the letter from Peter Kenyon that has got tongues wagging.
They say things come in three's! Well her's the third! There are rumours in the Chronicle and other outlets that a one year extension has been offered to Rafa, with the promise of transfer fees being released upon signing.
So there we have it, the continued three Stooges if you will: Transfer rumours, Takeover possibilities and the timing of offering Rafa a new contract.
But lets look at each one, and it may be a case of having to play Devils Advocate to a certain extent:
The problem with transfers, is Newcastle is unlike any other team, in the fact that they want to pay the entire transfer fee upfront, whereas most other teams would rather pay in instalments. The problem being is we are happy for clubs to pay us in instalments for players going out, similar to the Mitrovic and Sissoko deals, meaning we do not have the money in the bank. I can see the advantage of the club working in this way, as it keeps the club in the black, with no debts associated to the club, apart from the interest free loan from the owner, and it helps stick to the Financial Fair Play (FFP) guidelines. But it is seriously keeping us held back in terms of bringing in the quality needed to stay in the Premier League, never mind compete. It is more evident at this time of year, when injuries hit, and the weaknesses of the playing squad are there for all to see as the season progresses.
The need for reinforcement is there for all to see, but when you see clubs like Bournemouth spending £19 million on an unproven striker in Solanke (who I think personally was overpriced) and we are having to look at bargain deals to stick with the figure in the bank account, and not really taking into account what will come into the club in the future, money which could help in the long run with getting signings over the line. When you think we haven't broken our transfer record since we bought Michael Owen, it makes for depressing reading. But as with all transfer windows we will undoubtably be linked with a number of players. But when you see the prices linked with them, I get the feeling its not even worth researching the player to see what they are like, because we will never see them on the hallowed turf holding up the famous Black and White.
The thing is Rafa doesn't need £100 million plus to build a decent squad! look at the signings of Schar and Fernandez. A combined transfer fee of around £9 million, and the obvious case is Dubravka, £4 million, who is out performing £60 million goalkeepers. Rafa doesn't need to break the bank, he just needs backing, and not just loan deals. It needs investment, which we will not get under this owner, which brings me onto the next point:
Yes its that time of year, where takeover talk commands more column space than possible transfers. However unlike last year, we aren't getting daily updates from various media outlets. This is mainly down to the likes of Pete Graves, George Caulkin and Mark Douglas not being 100% certain it will happen. Why get our hopes up just for them to be dashed again. But unlike last year, the name mentioned about taking the club of Ashley's hand is a football man, knows the league, knows how deals work, and has proved it at the top level with Manchester United and Chelsea.
Peter Kenyon has been linked with an interest in the club since the early part of the season. The thing that will undoubtably annoy a lot of fans, is the timing of new takeover news being broken, or leaks appearing in the media. Ashley first said on Sky News that a takeover was closer than it ever has been, a couple of days before a planned boycott of the televised Wolves home game. Again just as the transfer window opens, a letter from Peter Kenyon to Ashley stating the wish to continue talks about buying the club was leaked in the Daily Mail. The timings always seem to be at a time when Newcastle fans are planning to take a stand, or as with the Kenyon letter, come soon after an open letter to the owner by pretty much every Newcastle fans Group (including this one) was released, asking for the owner to either sell up or put up.
There was even a suggestion in the local press that a representative of Kenyon was at the Man U game. Obviously looking at what they will need to do if a takeover was to go through. This will take time, it means to keep a sellable asset Ashley will have to invest this month, but talk of a takeover can be as depressing as transfers at the minute.
The time we have all be dreading is edging closer, and that is the end of Rafa's contract as manager. There has been no indication that a contract will be signed by the Spanish manager, or even that the club are willing to meet his demands in improving the club, not just the playing squad. Reports over the weekend suggested that the club have offered him a one year extension, with the promise that funds will be released for the transfer window.
There are several problems with this. Firstly being Rafa has always stated he wants to see the club match his ambitions before he signs anything, and at the minute it feels like South Shields and Gateshead have more ambition. Secondly if they wanted him to sign a contract in a way to guarantee transfer funds, it should have been on the table in November! We are now one week into the transfer window, and the manager has always stated he wants business done early, this is not meeting the gaffer's demands. You can see where Rafa is coming from on this, he will want to see how the club progresses as to whether he wants to commit to another year in charge. Something that is best looked at towards the end of the season, but the club have to back him if they are in line with the fans and want him to stay.
This is where I may have to play devils advocate a little bit. The other side of the coin is, you can understand the clubs stance to a certain extent. You can see the argument for wanting a manager on the last legs of his contract to commit before they sign his transfer targets. Right thats enough of sticking up fir the club, think I died a little inside! Yes Rafa's contract is important, but as he has repeatedly stated, it is not about him, it is about what is about whats best for the club. If the club agree to his transfer targets, and allow him to build the club his way, after all he is the only 'football man' with any power at the club, I wouldn't trust Charnley with getting my beer order right. The club need to trust his judgement, and allow him to run the club for however long he may be here. But I can't really see that happening with the current ownership.
A blind man can see what is needed at the club, but as it stands I honestly can not see any of the above happening, it needs a massive change at the club! But it does seem its same January different year at Newcastle, leading me to just ask 'Can we not just skip January?'