IN many ways, the transfer window was the story of Newcastle United in microcosm. Things started well enough, but nosedived thanks to a lack of investment and ended in a maelstrom of anger and strife.
The positive things achieved in the early stages of the window shouldn’t be completely overlooked, with Remy Cabella and Siem de Jong having finally arrived after a lengthy pursuit, Daryl Janmaat recruited as a decent replacement for the departed Mathieu Debuchy and Emmanuel Riviere prised from Monaco for £6.5m.
Numerically, the capture of nine players exceeded what most supporters were probably expecting after an 18-month spell without a single permanent addition, but Mike Ashley’s net spend has been negligible once the funds recouped from the sale of Debuchy and Yohan Cabaye are taken into account, and the transfer window has closed with the Magpies looking short of numbers and talent in both defence and attack.
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The opening four games of the season highlighted the desperate need for another centre-forward, but Loic Remy and Alexandre Lacazette were never likely to move to St James’ and Ashley refused to move on to alternative, more realistic targets.
Other clubs might have looked to secure a short-term deal for Danny Welbeck or Jermain Defoe yesterday, but not Newcastle, whose adherence to their preferred transfer policy is often a shackle on their ambitions.
Similarly, the obvious need for another centre-half has gone unanswered, despite the departure of Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa on a season-long loan to Roma. If anything happens to Fabricio Coloccini or Mike Williamson, Steven Taylor is the only alternative.
And then of course there is Hatem Ben Arfa, cast into exile by Alan Pardew, but now set for a new lease of life under former Sunderland boss Steve Bruce at Hull City. While Newcastle lack creativity and flair, someone who should be their prize play-maker will be strutting his stuff at the KC Stadium.
It is only three weeks since Pardew was talking about a “feel-good factor” in the build up to the opening game of the season. Whatever the prevailing mood on Tyneside was last night, “good” didn’t really come into it.