If Mike Ashley is as serious about winning trophies or achieving Champions League qualification as he leads Newcastle fans to believe, then now is the time for him to put his money where his mouth is.
Evident from Newcastle’s struggles just to survive in the Premier League this season, they are far from being a team capable of going on a successful cup run, let alone qualifying for the Champion’s League.
The last time Newcastle ever came close to winning a trophy was in the 1999 FA Cup final. They had Alan Shearer, then one of the most expensive players ever to grace the planet, as well as a team full of internationals formed under previous owner Freddie Shepherd.
In order to even be remotely close to make this happen again radical changes in their spending policy need to occur, starting with a loosening of the purse strings.
That is not to suggest that Newcastle need to break transfer records left right and centre, of course that is an unrealistic expectation, but as seen from the takeovers of Chelsea and Manchester City this century, the fastest way of achieving silverware is through spending, and spending big.
Following Roman Abramovich’s takeover of Chelsea in 2002, a £200m overhaul of his squad saw them achieve Premier League success within two years. Similar results were achieved with Manchester City, who also took only two seasons to win their first trophy after a huge financial investment in the squad.
Obviously the money available to Newcastle does not compare to that of Chelsea or City, thus Ashley would be unable to effectively buy Newcastle a title. However, in order to ensure the Magpies are able to at least compete again, Ashley needs to replicate this level of spending, albeit on a smaller scale.
With a reported £34m of profit available to Newcastle, this and more needs to be directed into the club’s transfer pot if the Toon Army are to avoid a repeat of the disastrous season they have just endured.
Many will draw attention to the defensive record of Newcastle, who conceded a total of 63 goals in the Premier League this season. Only bottom placed team QPR let in more. Combined with a distinct lack of firepower upfront, and players who display commitment minimal to the club, it is clear that a mass change of playing staff is required.
Such a heavy spending spree would represent a complete u-turn in Ashley’s attitude towards squad investment, which throughout his tenure as Newcastle owner has always been thrifty to say the least.
Questions to answer
Prior to last summer’s transfer window, Newcastle had gone 18 months without releasing a penny of their funds to spend on transfers. Instead opting to sign players on a free transfer or on loan deals, it can be no coincidence that during this time Newcastle struggled to remain a competitive team.
Furthermore, any players who did add value to their original price tag were soon sold off at a profit, none of which ever appeared to be put back into acquiring signings of equal quality. The sales of Andy Carroll to Liverpool (£35m) and Yohan Cabaye to PSG (£20m) saw Newcastle receive a combined total of £55m.
A vast amount compared against the mere £4.3m that was originally spent on both players. The fact that neither player was ever truly replaced simply added to the frustrations felt by Newcastle’s fans.
However admirable it may to be able to buy a squad of players at bargain prices and develop them into players capable of commanding fees well beyond their original price tag, as we have seen from recent seasons at St. James’ this tactic ultimately fails to produce continued progression.
With years of obscurity behind them, now is the time for Ashley to dip into his wallet and spend big. Especially if he is serious about delivering these trophies to Newcastle.
Newcastle fans, what do you think? Should Ashley invest heavily into the club or is there another way? Let us know your thoughts in the comments box below.