Analysis: Newcastle went big, but was it big enough?

Georginio Wijnaldum with Steve McClaren
Georginio Wijnaldum with Steve McClaren

Newcastle United, for once, spent big.

The club forked out almost £50million in this summer’s transfer window.

Chancel Mbemba

Chancel Mbemba

But is the club thinking big?

That spend, sanctioned by owner Mike Ashley after last season’s near-disastrous flirtation with relegation, has seen Georginio Wijnaldum, Florian Thauvin, Chancel Mbemba, Aleksandar Mitrovic and Ivan Toney arrive at St James’s Park over the past couple of months.

Few on Tyneside would argue with those signings, though none had played in the Premier League before they signed for United.

Importantly, there were not any significant outgoings.

Florian Thauvin

Florian Thauvin

The target this season is a top-eight finish – and a run in the cups.

Newcastle’s squad, unquestionably, still looks short of a player or two given the injuries and suspensions that will inevitably limit head coach Steve McClaren’s options over the coming months.

Where’s the cover at right-back? Does McClaren have enough defensive options? And does the team have enough goals in it?

Those are the questions fans have been asking over the past few weeks, but we won’t know the answers for weeks, if not months.

Certainly, many felt Charlie Austin would have brought goals to Newcastle, but the striker – who scored 18 goals for a poor team last season – remained at Queens Park Rangers.

United weren’t alone in questioning relegated QPR’s £15million valuation given that he has just a year left on his contract.

And the club is likely to look again at Austin – who is hoping to make the England squad for next summer’s European Championships – ahead of the January transfer window, when it could address any weaknesses in McClaren’s squad.

So far, the pick of the incomings has been midfielder Wijnaldum, signed as a No 10.

Wijnaldum is energetic and enterprising, and he knows the way to goal.

Defender Chancel Mbemba, a powerful and athletic player, has also impressed, both at centre-half and right-back, though the back four has struggled to deal with aerial balls.

We saw a glimpse of winger Florian Thauvin’s potential in the club’s Capital One Cup win over Northampton Town last week.

Thauvin is quick and direct, and is also a danger from set-pieces.

Yet striker Aleksandar Mitrovic – and his temperament – has been the biggest talking point over the past few weeks.

The 20-year-old picked up two yellow cards and a red in his first four league appearances for United, and he won’t be available until the end of next month because of his dismissal against Arsenal last weekend.

Indiscipline is a worry for McClaren, who also lost defender Daryl Janmaat to a one-game suspension.

Mitrovic, maybe a little too keen to impress, has put himself about a bit too much.

He looks to have the raw ability need to play at this level, but it takes brain as well as brawn to lead the line at this level.

And goals are a even bigger worry than indiscipline.

Papiss Demba Cisse – who had been open to a move away from Newcastle in the summer transfer window – is a proven Premier League goalscorer.

But you can’t helping thinking McClaren could have done with another one of those.