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Devil's Advocate: Newcastle United's Transfer Window Was Not A Disaster

Whether you watched the January Transfer Window with complete apathy or seething hatred at the activity or lack thereof, on the balance the moves made in the last month just don't matter.

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Newcastle United's transfer policy has been irritating and antagonizing supporters for years.  If you isolate your feelings about whether the squad needed strengthening (it does), whether players moving away from the club could have helped address said squad strengthening (they could have done), or the fact that the club could have firmly established the fact that they will by the players they want when they want regardless of the coach (it could have done) and set them aside, there is one true take away from the window.  None of the moves the club made matter... at least not directly.

There will be a lasting story from this transfer window however it will not even be centered around our own club.  Mike Ashley's decision – surely it was his or one of his henchmen Derek the Righteous or Lee the Pure which is no different – to circumvent difficulties in financing his pet project at Rangers FC by loaning a raft of fringe players that are either playing out the string on their Newcastle United career or trying to earn their way into the first team conversation will fulfill that role.  The discussions that will be had in Scotland by the SFA and politicians and anyone else who has a hand in the debacle surrounding Rangers 2.0 will likely be entertaining to say the least.  It's almost enough to make a Newcastle fan feel nervous as many unpopular things have happened while Ashley has attention diverted elsewhere... but that is likely a story for another day.

It is frustrating that Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa was allowed to go to Roma with a dearth of center back cover that was exacerbated by the inclusion of Remie Streete in the Loan Rangers (or the Newcastle 5 if you prefer).  Streete has been considered the most likely of the young center backs at the club to step up if the need arose but has evidently been passed up by the new project to train Paul Dummett into a new role at the center of defense.  We have seen flashes that he could succeed in that role while his absence from the LB position has allowed Massadio Haidara to step in and begin asserting himself as the first-choice left back that many have assumed him to be.  The end result of Dummett becoming a CB/LB hybrid is increased depth at CB while maintaining some degree of depth at LB as well.  Davide Santon's loan-to-purchase move to Inter Milan has offset any appreciable gain from this situation, however, erasing any potential gain in depth by Dummett's increased flexibility.  While frustrating to fans, the transfers of Yanga-Mbiwa and Santon literally don't matter.

The transfer policy of Newcastle United is widely known.  Find promising young players who can be acquired for relatively cheap as they are either a) a diamond in the rough type or b) closing in on the end of a contract causing their club to accept a best possible offer in order to receive some amount of money for a player who could soon move on a free transfer.  Sell on for massive profit.  It is a policy that benefits Mike Ashley and his pocketbook in a big way as it has been used to great effect by his henchmen.  It is very rare that Newcastle misses and sells a player on at a loss.  Both defenders who left the club this January did so at a rather significant loss to the club.  Davide Santon was purchased at a reported £5.5m while his purchase price for Inter will be £2.9m (rounded up) which puts him scarcely over 50% return on investment while MYM has brought back only £5.5m on a reported investment of £6.7m.  These figures tell you the exact truth that these transfers don't matter.  For different reasons, they were regarded as poor investments.  Davide Santon could not stay healthy.  Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa was regarded by Alan Pardew – who still holds Mike Ashley's esteem – as not physical enough and not good enough in the air to be a Premier League center back.  Neither player was going to see the pitch again for Newcastle United.  If they had stayed, they would have warmed the bench if even that.  The transfers have no effect on the first team squad as they were not viewed as first team players.

One of the arguments that would be stated on a regular basis by those wanting Alan Pardew out was that he was underachieving with the players at his disposal.  Whether it was a matter of tactics or man management or some other problem with Pardew, the belief (one that I have held and do hold) is that the current first team squad is better than the results they were earning under their former manager.  There were perhaps slight hopes that Davide Santon or Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa would be part of finding out if that idea held any truth, but the fact is that they had no appreciable role in the squad.  2014-15 Newcastle United held no place for them.  We will now get to see if the belief that the squad as it sat, while thin, is good enough to achieve at a level higher than they had been.

Newcastle's transfer window was not shocking or surprising.  The fact is that none of the moves had any effect on the first team squad.  They will have no effect on John Carver.  Every player that has left the club in January was staring the end of his Newcastle United career in the face in one form or another.  In all honesty there was need to reinforce the squad for depth reasons and for talent upgrade reasons.  There are players in this squad that are "good enough" and they must ultimately be replaced.  Some of those will have to be relied upon in the closing months of the season.  There is lofty talk of a top-10 finish still... 8th... 9th according to John Carver but the season stops at exactly that and nothing more.  Avoid relegation.  Finish in the top half if you can, BUT we believe that this squad is good enough as it stands to accomplish these goals.  It is because of this that the activity or inactivity of the January window can't be considered a disaster... it just doesn't matter.