Kieran Trippier and Chris Wood are the only names through the doors at St James Park 20 days into the transfer window – and with one-third of the window remaining, will this be enough for Newcastle to stay up?
While the Magpies have targeted a priority area up-front to replace the injured Callum Wilson in Wood, the statement signing of Trippier sets out Newcastle’s potential ambitions if the club survived.
Relegation would throw such a vision out the window as players who were promised a slice of the project for European football in the not-too-distant future would take a reputational hit.
The club are gambling on the signings already made to prove a difference but the issue is Newcastle cannot protect a lead: 21 points dropped from a winning position is more than disappointing and only serves to show the current side’s fragile mentality.
They need confidence, and if the club are openly bidding on centre backs (Botman was a priority target but Lille are reluctant to sell until at least the summer, meanwhile Diego Carlos is the number one target but faces competition by rival sides) and so on, what are the current players going to think?
The harsh truth is that at the moment, Newcastle are not a Premier League side on the pitch. Although the supporters in their thousands pack the stadium most weeks and the coaching staff remain optimistic that brighter times are ahead, the club is going nowhere with its current crop of players.
More than half of the starting 11 who played in the Championship feature in the current side – five years later, players scrambled together for a quick promotion but were given five-year contracts are mismatched in an eternal scrap for survival.
The previous ownership didn’t want to spend as much (particularly before Bruce arrived) for reasons unknown and the consequences of that policy is showing now.
It will take more than one transfer window to fix the problems at Newcastle, and the new ownership have pledged to look into every small area both on the field and off it to create the most efficient version of the club supporters can expect.
Some fans wonder why a director of football wasn’t appointed, particularly before a managerial appointment. The process-driven agenda from Riyadh has slowed things down but the club are seemingly happy to take their time.
Relegation only puts the project back at least a year. But the Championship is notoriously a difficult league to escape – and the same few teams in recent memory have found themselves trapped in the purgatory between the divisions: Fulham and Norwich in particular.
You would expect with the riches Newcastle now have that they can buy their way out of trouble but it seems like clubs are reluctant to deal with Newcastle.
Or maybe more truthfully, Newcastle are reluctant to pay over the odds for players. And that approach might mean the club loses out on some key targets.
It’s a perilous situation for Eddie Howe’s team but things are slowly getting better. More arrivals later in the window – at all odds – can only be a good thing whether they are permanents or loans.
But more crucially Newcastle need to start winning against lower-half sides so they don’t need to perform miracles against the top sides. Such a fragile squad needs more than faith to survive.
No matter what happens the future will be better for Newcastle United than it is now.