Newcastle United Q&A: Takeover talk can't be allowed to 'disrupt' summer plans at St James' Park
June is usually a quiet month in football, but things feel even more silent at Newcastle United.
No kit deal announced, retained list released or transfer to talk about, it’s been a very dry few weeks on Tyneside since the closure of the 2020/21 Premier League campaign.
Is the frustratingly protracted takeover having an impact, or is this just more of the same from the Magpies?
Here our writers Miles Starforth, Jordan Cronin and Liam Kennedy tackle the key issues at St James’ Park.
Things are very quiet and a lot is uncertain at St James' Park this summer. What's your thoughts on NUFC's radio silence?
MS: “It’s still early in the summer, and June is invariably a quiet month, so the radio silence isn’t that surprising. That said, I’d have expected some clarity from the club on the retained list by now. It’s unclear why contract extensions haven’t been announced for the likes of Paul Dummett and Fabian Schar. Again, the one to watch is Federico Fernandez, who will have other options. Let’s hope he stays.”
JC: “At the very least, I would have expected to know the retained list by now, especially after Andy Carroll was shown as released on the Premier League website. That said, it does suggest there are a few things to be ironed out in terms of contracts for the likes of Carroll, Federico Fernandez, Fabian Schar and Paul Dummett. They’ve even got next season’s kit supplier and design to announce. Is it Castore or somebody else? Being late to announce what seem like fairly basic things has become the norm of the Mike Ashley era.”
LK: “Everyone needs clarity on a number of key issues. The new kit and contracts being two key ones. Accounts are also due. I’d expect it will be a busy few weeks, with all likely to come in quick succession.”
Do you believe the uncertainty around the ownership situation is having an impact, or is this just more of the same from United?
MS: “I think it’s much the same as last summer. The phrase ‘business as usual’ has again been used, but it’s a fair summary. It has to be business as usual, as decisions will have to be made before we get any kind of decision on the proposed takeover. The uncertainty over the club’s future ownership can’t be allowed to interfere with planning for the coming season.”
JC: “It probably is to some degree but it’d also be easy to use that as an excuse. A lot of things that require clarity are mostly routine, well, at least they seem like they are at other Premier League clubs. Ultimately, it's Mike Ashley's ownership summed up to a T. This is nothing out of the ordinary.”
LK: “It isn’t helping matters, of that there is no doubt. And I think United are quieter on the announcement and PR front this summer than ever before. This is not for the want of trying from some on the club payroll.”
With the dual legal action in play, do you think we are any closer to a decision on the PIF, PCP and Reubens takeover of the club?
MS: “Yes, we’re getting closer, notwithstanding the Premier League’s apparent keenness to delay, delay, delay. The arbitration hearing is all important, and it starts next month.”
JC: “Clearly, with the date for the Premier League to respond to the CAT case now passed and arbitration to follow in the coming weeks, things are happening. Let’s hope Mike Ashley’s confidence isn’t flawed.”
LK: “Every day we get closer to a decision. And the next few months certainly feel crucial. Will they be? Here’s to hoping.”
Following this week's fixture release, has the Premier League super computer been kind to Newcastle United?
MS: “Yes and no. The club needs a positive start, and it has an opportunity to put some early puts on the board - and build some momentum. Yes, December is tough, but the Premier League is tough, full stop. The club needs a squad equipped to tackle the tough winter period. The computer has kindly given the club a rare Boxing Day home game, but less kind to fans on New Year’s Day, when Newcastle travel to Southampton.”
JC: “I think it’s been incredibly harsh, and that is before we mention Southampton AWAY on New Year’s Day. Shambles! December is brutal - Liverpool and both Manchester clubs to play in 11 days - and the run-in isn’t much better either. It often throws up fixtures you dread when you’re not playing well. Pressure, as always, is on to get off to a strong start.”
LK: “No. December is a joke. But at the end of the day, everyone has the same games, just in different orders. There are more than enough winnable games for United to get the likely 36 points they need to remain in the division – and without any significant summer movement on the ownership front, that’s likely to be the aim again.”
And finally, with Euro 2020 in full swing, what players and teams have impressed you the most so far?
MS: “Italy, certainly, have caught the eye so far. They’ve done very well in the final third of the pitch, and have been as disciplined as you’d expect them to be without the ball. As for England, Kalvin Phillips stood out for me in the first game, and I’m looking forward to seeing how he progresses through this tournament.”
JC: “I couldn’t see past France pre-tournament and nothing has changed my mind. Portugal possess a better team now than what they won Euro 2016 with, while Belgium look like a force to be reckoned with. I’m feeling very hopeful about England though, I was impressed with the way Gareth Southgate managed the game against Croatia. That isn’t to say they’ll go all the way, but semi-finals should be a realistic target.”
LK: “I’ve always got a soft spot for the Netherlands. And I enjoyed their attacking intent in the tournament so far. It’s finally nice to see Gini Wijnaldum in his proper role, as a more attacking midfielder. Truthfully, though, Italy’s midfield balance, forward movement and left-hand side look impressive. Belgium with Kevin De Bruyne look transformed and France look to have the whole package.”