Here, our Shields Gazette writers Miles Starforth and Jordan Cronin take a look over the last seven days, including a takeover update, a St James’s Park exit and potential transfer activity.
What did you make of the club’s decision to sell Florian Lejeune?
MS: “Not surprised, to be honest. Lejeune is a classy defender who’s had terrible luck with injuries at Newcastle, and it’s a shame to see him leave. That said, there seemed to be an inevitability about his departure this summer after his loan last season. He just didn’t seem to be a part of Bruce’s plans going forward. Good luck to him at Alaves.”
JC: “I was sad to see him go but completely understand the reasons behind it. Lejeune is a fantastic defender but has struggled badly with two knees injuries. He’s also 30-years-old and had one-year remaining on his contract – now was the best time to cash him. I wish him all the very best for the future.”
Do you believe Steve Bruce will sign a replacement for Lejeune?
MS: “Certainly, central defence seems to be a position Bruce is keen to strengthen, and the Lejeune deal, in his words, has “put a few quid in the club’s coffers”. If Bruce intends to play with three central defenders all season, then there’s a strong argument for replacing Lejeune.”
JC: “He certainly needs to but whether it’ll be a permanent arrival remains to be seen. Bruce revealed he is working with a restricted transfer budget and will look to explore the loan market. Similar to last season, could someone like Rob Holding be targetted?”
What are your thoughts on Newcastle’s quiet start to the transfer window?
MS: “June and early July were always going to be quiet with Euro 2020 going on, but the lack of progress since then is a concern. Hopefully, the club can re-sign Joe Willock on loan, but that deal alone won’t mean the club has done good business. The problem is that Bruce is operating with a very limited budget, and all hope of a takeover has been kicked into the long grass. This could be another very tough campaign.”
JC: “I was pretty relaxed about during the Euros but since then, it’s become pretty apparent that this isn’t going to be a transformative window for Newcastle. Even if the club is able to re-sign Willock and another – yes it’s an improvement on where the squad is currently but in terms of last season, it’s at a standstill. I suppose that just sums up the Mike Ashley era.”
What was your reaction to the news that the club’s takeover arbitration has been adjourned until ‘early 2022’?
MS: “It was a surprise, though we should be used to delays by now. Premier League chief executive Richard Masters had promised a “timely” resolution to this dispute at the start of the year, but we’ve had delay after delay. Of course, legal processes take time, and are prone to delays, but that doesn’t make this latest setback any easier for fans to accept. It’s hugely damaging.”
JC: “I’ll be honest, with the way this takeover process has played out, I anticipated further delays but early 2022? That took me by surprise. It’s not helping anyone and the confidentiality is extremely unfair on supporters. By the time a possible verdict is delivered, fans will have been in the dark about what’s happening with THEIR club for two years.”
With no takeover and a lack of spending so far, are you worried about the season ahead?
MS: “I think most fans are worried ahead of the new season, and those concerns are justified. There’s still time to bring in players, but is there enough money to do the business that this club needs if the team is to have a chance of progressing this season?”
JC: “Right now, I am concerned. The squad, without Willock alone, is weaker than last season so that needs addressing immediately. I do take some comfort in the fact Newcastle have developed an identity since Graeme Jones arrived but that can only get you so far. The best outcome is looking like survival once more, and that’s so disheartening, no matter how used to it supporters are.”