Well.. it's called the silly season for a reason, right? With little to no progress to report on potential transfer targets and no real new names to report in connection with Newcastle, silliness has well and truly arrived on Tyneside. Before we get to all that, however (although I've kind of spoiled the surprise already), there is actual news that we should touch on.
After the jump, we'll look at the expectations the club have on the youngsters that they did not clear out in January, I'll wonder what that means with regard to the transfer market, and I'll link in an interesting read about Vurnon Anita from an Ajax (and Anita) fan. I know we're all champing at the bit, so let's get at it.
Are Must Be Alright
Newcastle United’s young players don’t really have a choice – this is the season they must make their breakthrough, as John Carver stresses to Neil Cameron JOHN Carver yesterday gave Newcastle’s fringe players a gentle reminder about what is expected of them next season – just on the off-chance it had slipped any of their minds. The club’s assistant manager wants to see those who can’t quite yet consider themselves full-time first-team squad members to show they can be a big part – and not just a bit part – of Alan Pardew’s plans.
There are a host of young (primarily midfield) players that have been sat on the fringe of first team involvement over the past year for various reasons some had picked up injury, some are stuck behind world-class talents and some were perhaps achieving at a high level to be in that position. Some of these players (such as Haris Vuckic) you would hope would be in a position to contribute in a rather major way this coming season. Some you hope are going take a major step forward and provide needed depth (I'm looking at you, Mehdi Abeid, Dan Gosling). Sammy Ameobi had found himself in a position to contribute last season before a knee injury while playing for the reserves took him out of the picture. Shane Ferguson is another player that you would hope to see staking claim to some first team time while Michael Richardson will be stepping in on the low end of this process. There is talent on the fringe of the first team, and the club have shown that they are ready to jettison young players if it is felt that they are not making the requisite progress... these players are on notice.
The flip side of this, to me, is that it feels a bit like we're being set up for another disappointing transfer window outcome. Perhaps a bit nihilistic, and at the end of the day if the production comes, we won't care where it comes from... it's just a little harder to wrap your head around when you pay attention to the transfer rumors and get your eyes filled with stars.
Richardson is very much living the dream at Newcastle with the former Walker Central junior plying his trade as an electrician with Newcastle Council just two years ago. He found himself in Pardew’s squad towards the end of the campaign and appeared in several match day squads. He said: "It was great to be in the squad when we were winning games and seeing the team at the top end of the league. "We were fighting for Europe and it was exciting."
This is the kind of story that you love to see at Newcastle United, and I wish Michael every success as he continues his drive to first-team football. Also tacked on to the very end of this article:
Meanwhile, the Chronicle understands that United turned down a bid from Birmingham City to take long-serving Steve Harper on loan.
The Curious Case Of Stevie Harper continues. I still maintain that Harps deserves better than what he's getting from the club at this point in his career. Either keep him here as the #2 with promise of significant action during cup competitions and either Europe or Premier League spells to rest Tim Krul. The thing is, Alan Pardew has this irrational love for Rob Elliott, so that doesn't seem likely. #FreeSteveHarper. There. I've said it. Either play him or loan him. The man has sacrificed what some feel could have been a massive career to be a tremendous servant of the club. Do right by him like he has for you.
"They’ve settled in really well," Carver told the Gazette. "Gael looks a great athlete, and both are good characters. "They want to work hard. We’ll find out more about them over pre-season. From what I’ve seen of them, they’re very promising players. "They’ve joined a top club, and they haven’t been overawed by it. That bodes well for the future."
When speaking of the youth coming into first team contention, we shouldn't forget about Romain Amalfitano and Bigi Smalls (this will catch on. I demand it) who are both reportedly impressing in their first days training with the club. Grain Of Salt Warning™: Of course they are. I don't think you'll hear any club ever say "Well... we signed the lad, but he's utter shite". At any rate, the two add back to an already congested midfield situation that was slightly lessened with the departure of Danny Guthrie earlier this summer... Perhaps the club are seriously going to make a run at the 3-6-1 formation at some point.
It’s often said the best things come in small packages, at 5 foot 6 Vurnon Anita is not the most physically imposing but he compensates this with acuteness. Anita has a playing style I would compare him to Clarence Seedorf. He runs across the pitch following the ball, once in possession his passing coupled with great football intelligence makes him perfect for the ‘number six’ role, or controlling playmaker, as De Boer would say. He’s strong on and off the ball in chosing the perfect postion to regain or pass the ball. He can dictate the tempo: whether Ajax needs to slow things down or raise it.
Newcastle are still being mentioned every now and again in connection with Vurnon Anita... I'm still holding out for a striker and a CB... but as we know #AllTransfersAWindowTooLate... so probably tough luck to me. This is an interesting read that gives some background about Anita's background and his journey to this point in his career. I don't see this kind of read too often as I'm floating around out there, so I'm bringing it here.
Speaking at his first press conference of the pre-season programme, Pardew looked forward to United's forthcoming tour of Germany and Austria and revealed how Demba Ba's future still looked bright on Tyneside. He also played down talk of a possible loan move for Andy Carroll. But when asked about transfers he said: "We don't expect anything immediate in the next week or so but we could have a body through the door within 14 days. "I don't envisage too many coming in.
The club's tight lips regarding transfers are a double edged sword for a supporter. On the one hand, you can sometimes get a deal done through like we did for Papiss Cisse and you look like a genius. By the same token, if a move breaks down, then you don't look silly. On the other hand, it leaves us as supporters floating in the breeze just grasping for anything to hope for, not hope for or speculate upon. Enter the silly season part of the links. Oh- but first, this is encouraging... maybe.
The Magpies are prepared to offer Ba a new "improved contract" – and to remove the minimum-fee release clause that remains dangerously active until July 31 this year. And until the end of the month, or such time that Ba agrees to a new deal, nobody knows exactly where they stand. Ba dismissed speculation linking him with a move away from Newcastle with a tweet saying "rumours are rumours" eight days ago, yet he is also still to nail his colours to the mast in the form of signing a new deal.
If you input "new signing" into the Newcastle United Spin Wash™ you can very easily come out with "Demba Ba". Much the same as there have been stories that Sylvain Marveaux will be "a new signing" this season coming back from injury, if they manage to close the loophole in Demba's contract, I'm sure it will be trumpeted as a "new signing". I'm holding out hope for a striker, a CB or Mathieu Debuchy... but holding my breath would be foolish.
Silly. Silly. Silly.
Reports in the media in Kuwait claimed that Arabi Club's chairman Jamal Al-Kazemi was "seriously thinking of buying Newcastle United." However, while the Magpies have a strict policy of not commenting on in public on such matters, the Chronicle understands that there has been "no offer or communication" with Mr Al-Kazemi. The suggestion that United are available for under £80million is also thought to be inaccurate. It is thought that owner Mike Ashley is still keen to stick to his business plan on Tyneside with his desire to keep on building at Newcastle underlined recently by his decision to hand out long-term contracts to key members of staff, including chief scout Graham Carr.
The odds of this happening are as close to 0 as you can say they are without saying they're patently false... but this story is essentially a retread of a 3 year old story without even bothering to change anything to make it current. At one point, Mike Ashley did have the club up for sale in the £80m range... briefly. Once we started winning in the Championship, the price was already above £100m. The club are now coming off of a Top 5 finish and are in Europe. There is no way Mike Ashley will move the club for £80m. Before I get myself in trouble commenting further, I move along.
A hit of more than 50% on the initial outlay to Newcastle would be punishing but that appears to be the best Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers can expect for the 23-year-old player in the transfer market this summer. A £10m Newcastle United bid for the player cannot be ruled out, particularly if Demba Ba triggers the release clause in his own contract, with Liverpool a club that has had long-standing interest.
This rumor is silly as well. When you leave like The Most Expensive British Player In The History Of Ever™ did, I don't really think that you can go back. At least that's what the emotional side of me says. The emotional side of me is the side to which I will always listen with regards to this player. Sue me. Waaaaaaay back in the back of my brain there's a little worm eating away at me saying that there is a small bit of sense that a move like this could make. First, net profit of £25m while essentially retaining the player would be nothing short of sensational. Of course, I would not pay £10m for him anyway... but it would be hard to argue if the club did decide on that price for that player. Secondly, there is 0 chance that this player will be gone in January to the ACON. Another box ticked. Ultimately , a move like this would pose quite a conundrum for those in my position... I suppose just like every Geordie son that comes home, we will immediately welcome him back. I expect that the welcome will come with a very very short leash.
Again, though... all of these rumors are being built off of Brendan Rodgers' refusal to endorse the current status of a certain player relative to his squad. If he can show Rodgers that he is capable of staying out of the boozers and acting in a more professional manner than he has shown in the past, this story is probably a non starter anyway.