Newcastle United: Should Staveley and co spend big in January or wait until the summer?
With the Saudi Arabian-backed takeover of Newcastle United complete, ecstatic Geordies have been given a new lease of hope despite their poor start to the season.
The takeover, confirmed on Thursday evening by the Premier League, ended much-maligned owner Mike Ashley’s 14-year reign at the Magpies, as well as making Newcastle potentially the richest club in the world.
But amid the hysteria, the reality of Newcastle’s on-pitch issues will still be waiting.
Newcastle are 19th in the Premier League and without a win in any competition since a 2-0 victory over Fulham on the final day of last season, with head coach Steve Bruce under immense pressure to turn their torrid form around.
The question now is whether the Saudi consortium should spend big in the January transfer window to help pull away from the relegation zone, or keep the faith with the players at the club’s disposal.
Given that so few of those players might see their long-term future on Tyneside, it is a major dilemma.
An answer to this question might lie in a look back at the biggest previous takeover in the Premier League era – Manchester City in 2008 – and how successful their first January transfer window was.
After bringing in the late summer signing of Robinho in September 2008, City splashed the cash in January 2009 with the signings of Wayne Bridge, Craig Bellamy, Nigel De Jong and Shay Given.
These signings came with a relatively uninspiring result for the Citizens, with only De Jong staying around long enough to become a member of both their FA Cup winning side of 2011 and their historic league winning side of 2012, with the rest leaving either on loan or permanently in 2011.
The relative failure of their big money signings of 2008/09 should warn Newcastle away from splashing their newfound wealth in January 2022, although it is difficult to use this as Newcastle are in a much worse position than a mid-table City were in September 2008.
We also need to examine how teams in a similar position as Newcastle have performed in the January window in a last ditch attempt to avoid the dreaded drop to the Championship.
West Bromwich Albion brought in five new players in January 2021 to help their survival chances following a dismal start to the 2020/21 campaign, which had seen them pick up only eight points from their first 20 league games.
This failed to inspire the Baggies as, bar an exception 5-2 win at eventual European Champions Chelsea, their form failed to improve and were relegated on 26 points after five wins all season, with their signings failing to impress under Sam Allardyce.
Fulham have also fallen victim to bringing in players in January to save themselves from a woeful start to the 2018/19 season with the additions of Lazar Markovic, Ryan Babel and Havard Nordtveit.
Although Babel turned out to be a mild success for the Cottagers with five goals in 16 games from the left wing, Fulham’s form only picked up after their relegation had been confirmed as they ended the season with three wins from five games following nine successive defeats.
This again warns Newcastle that panic buying in the January window doesn’t guarantee success and that they should perhaps wait until the summer before beginning to splash the cash on new assets.
But how will that sit with fans dreaming of some of the world’s biggest names arriving at St James’ Park?
Amanda Staveley and co, it’s over to you . . .