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Sacking Howe? Signing players? What will Newcastle do in January?

Whatever the Magpies are doing, it’s not working at all.

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Newcastle United v Aston Villa - Premier League Photo by George Wood/Getty Images

Newcastle United are doing something, but whatever they are doing is simply not working. Like, at all.

After dodging relegation from the Premier League following the October 2021 takeover by Saudi Arabia’s PIF.

After finishing the second season after that pivotal event in the fourth position and earning a place in the Champions League, as well as making it all the way to the Carabao Cup final (to end up losing it).

After earning glorious results against the likes of Paris Saint-Germain in the return to best competition played on European soil.

After all of that, NUFC has lost eight matches in the Premier League this season. They are out of the Champions League—and couldn’t even finish third to at least fall to the Europ League, for that matter. They have crashed out of the Carabao Cup. And they have a clash against Sunderland in the FA Cup a few days from now that is looking as ominous and dangerous as one could imagine.

The most probable outcome entering the 2024 calendar year: a top-10 finish in the Premier League if they are lucky, and no cups lifted at all for another (the nth) year barring a shocking development.

In his latest report for The Athletic, Chris Waugh shared some intel about Newcastle’s plan for the upcoming transfer window and the second half of the season.

As it’s been constantly reported and echoed through the first half of the season, it looks like the PIF and NUFC’s board is still backing up Howe and not planning to sack the manager mid-season. Will that change if the results don’t improve—and soon? We’ll have to wait and see, but at this point, nothing can be ruled out entirely.

Newcastle, simply put, stink.

The Magpies have won two of their last nine matchups. They have destroyed the dreams of all fans by getting canned from all tourneys except the FA Cup, and there is a chance they do so against the worst possible opponent—Sunderland. They might be lucky to finish sixth eighth or twelve in the EPL. Too much for growing revenue streams... Sheesh.

Howe himself, as quoted by Waugh, said recently that “no amount of credit in the bank is big enough,” teasing a potentially perilous position for him and some of his players when it comes to eventual sacks or sales.

Don’t get it wrong; Howe saved NUFC from disaster and built a high-end machine with spare pieces, but the flaws are showing in glaring ways these days. Something has to change, and it’s always easier to remove one head than to cut the whole squad square.

Yesterday, in the 1-3 loss to Nottingham Forest in St James’ Park and as Waugh points out, none of Newcastle’s summer signing was in the starting XI. Is that anything remotely close to a good squad building? Transfer planning? Conducting solid business? Let me doubt it for a minute, even more with another transfer window right around the corner as we’ll flip the calendar page after the weekend.

Oh, and just in case, Liverpool will be waiting to host Newcastle on a beautiful New Year's day at Anfield of all places. Quite a start to 2024, isn’t it?

Waugh reports that the Magpies will look to bolster the following positions and roles in January, we’ll see if it happens and to which extent those signings help/improve the team. Considering what has gone on from the end of August to the end of December, well, I guess it’s fair to question what will come next.

  • A goal-scoring attacker: “Be it an out-and-out striker or a versatile option who can usurp Almiron and lighten the load on Anthony Gordon, who has had to take on a punishing workload. [It’s considered] a priority.”
  • Another goalkeeper: “Be it a new No. 1 or short-term cover for Pope. [It’s] looking increasingly desirable.”
  • Ideally, a midfielder and a centre-half: “[Although] Financial Fair Play (FFP) constraints mean Newcastle cannot just spend as they please in what is a notoriously tricky month to conclude business.”

Six months ago we were all licking our chops at the possibility of Newcastle assaulting the top-3 in the Premier League and making it to the knockout stages of the Champions League while winning at least one of the domestic cups.

Now? We’ll be more than happy if we know who will keep building and managing the team come July with Howe maybe on the outside looking in by the time we reach the final games the season before the summer.

Not to mention Waugh’s report about Manchester United’s interest in snatching Dan Ashworth, NUFC’s director of football, from the team after Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s investment in the Red Devils all but secured a change (for the better) in the red side of Manchester.

Dreams crushed, future darkened.