At the end of the day, it really shouldn't be surprising. We've seen this situation play out time and again. And again. And... well, you get the point. Following a real skin-of-the-teeth end to the 2014-15 season, Mike Ashley promised significant investment into a club that had grown progressively more shiftless as the years of minimal (and misguided) investment passed. "War Chests" of £50m or more were being touted about. Predictably, those numbers have dwindled and dwindled with recent reports suggesting that the total money available may be closer to £25m. We shouldn't be surprised when the ultimate number settles in around the latter sum (after the extended season ticket renewal deadline passes, of course).
The difficulty with the smaller transfer budget is that it's frankly not enough, especially with the desire to by English and the English Talent Surtax that comes along with buying domestic players. Say the number is £25m and we do manage to bring in Charlie Austin at the reported fee being demanded by QPR (£15m). That leaves us £10m to bring in 4 more first-team level players. We know that we have been linked to Lewis Dunk. We need CB reinforcement desperately, so let us ink him in for now. He is on a £5m fee (reportedly) which puts us at £20m outlay on two players, leaving £5m for 3 players... or essentially 3 Yoan Gouffrans to go along with Austin and a CB without Premier League experience.
This is, of course, operating in a Panglossian "best of all possible worlds" view of things (based on information provided by Preferred Media Partner The Mirror). The difficulty in reconciling this way is that we are steadily moving away from Charlie Austin in steps. We've moved from Austin AND Bas Dost to maybe Bas Dost to now having been connected with Watford striker Troy Deeney at around £10m (a STEAL for a player with 0 PL goals). He has averaged nearly 22 goals per season in the expanded schedule of the Championship... but he is the embodiment of everything we have seen over years. We've been led down this road before (most recently in the protracted Head Coach saga). We are dangled names and we get excited. Slowly and progressively, the names get smaller and smaller until we end up with the typical Carr and Charnley bargain buys which will neither be numerous enough nor of enough quality to change the reality of a team that is flat not good enough.
It was truly fun for a moment at the beginning of the close season to be optimistic. All of the signs, however, are pointing to more of the same. Business as usual at St. James' Park and we'll have a white-knuckle finish against Spurs on May 15.