And that job was to sign a striker.
The relegation-threatened club did that – Seydou Doumbia arrived on loan from AS Roma – but Saido Berahino, the club’s No 1 target, stayed at West Bromwich Albion.
A club-record bid of £21million wasn’t enough to persuade Jeremy Peace, the chairman at The Hawthorns, to sell the 22-year-old, who was interested in a move to St James’s Park.
And Doumbia isn’t the proven Premier League goalscorer that head coach Steve McClaren wanted.
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Charlie Austin, a target last summer, joined Southampton, while former loanee Loic Remy stayed at Chelsea.
Above all else, it’s goals that will keep the 18th-placed club in the Premier League, though head coach Steve McClaren also has work to do on a defence which has been leaking too many goals.
Aleksandar Mitrovic – who has been leading the line in the absence through injury of Papiss Cisse – needs help up front.
Doumbia could well help him out, though, just like Mitrovic, he will need time to adapt to English football.
So too could winger Andros Townsend and midfielder Jonjo Shevley, the two £12million England internationals that arrived earlier in the transfer window, as they can both find the net.
The club, which loaned Florian Thauvin out and sold Mike Williamson and Shane Ferguson last month, also signed midfielder Henri Saivet.
But as it stands, Mitrovic – who has been labouring up front of late on his own – will continue to lead the line at the club, which resumes its Premier League campaign tomorrow with a game against Everton at Goodison Park.
That’s the worry, and Berahino, Austin or Remy would have genuinely brought another dimension to United’s attack.
But Newcastle have ahugely-promising talent at the club in Ayoze Perez.
And the other positive news yesterday was the new deal signed by the forward, arguably the best finisher at the club along with Georginio Wijnaldum, McClaren’s No 10.
Perez’s five-and-a-half-year deal, understood to have been all but agreed weeks ago, was formally signed yesterday.
The contract doesn’t change much in terms of Perez’s longer-term future, which could well lie away from Tyneside.
If he continues to progress, top-four clubs will take an even closer interest in him in the summer when the transfer window reopens.
But, rightly, the 22-year-old has been rewarded for his form over the past 18 months with a significant pay rise.
Signed as one for the future from Tenerife, Perez quickly showed he was also one for the present.
Perez’s strikes kept Newcastle in the Premier League last season.
And McClaren must find a way to create more chances for Perez and Wijnaldum, who, between them, have scored 14 of United’s 25 goals so far this term.
That’s where Shelvey and Townsend should come into their own. The team has needed more English players, and the pair look to be astute buys.
Newcastle were also looking to sign a left-back as cover for Paul Dummett, but they lost out on targets Guilherme Siqueira and Lucas Orban, who moved to clubs in Spain.
Talk of a move for former United defender Jose Enrique came to nothing, maybe not surprisingly given his injury record at Liverpool and strident criticism of the club’s ambition before his departure in the summer of 2011.
But the failure to land a striker aside, United have done good business.
Newcastle, possibly, have done some of the best business this transfer window in signing Shelvey and Townsend.
The club’s squad is stronger than it was at the start of the January window, and how many times have we been able to say that?