Even if recent performances haven’t sunk to the depths Alan Pardew’s Newcastle United battled and John Carver’s embraced, four consecutive 1-0 defeats for the Magpies make any argument against January recruitment a tough one.
And so, after extensive summer spending brought mixed results, out comes the cheque book again. Steve McClaren’s insistence on not exciting fans when discussing potential signings last week was a bizarre approach – though one reinforced by yet another cup exit – but there is now movement on that front.
This being Newcastle, though, means action to arrest frustrating defensive errors or numerous wasted chances has taken a back seat in favour of bids for midfield men, Henri Saivet and Jonjo Shelvey. Both would surely improve the United team and squad, but this is already a side that deploys four central players in the starting XI on a regular basis, while first-reserve Cheick Tiote also came back into form against Arsenal.
Though a creative influence (or two) in the middle of the field would be welcomed, undoubtedly, it is not a priority as the club sit in the bottom three yet again.
Newcastle are not winless in five – netting just once – due to a lack of goalscoring opportunities; Siem de Jong, Aleksandar Mitrovic, Gini Wijnaldum and Ayoze Perez have all been found wanting in the area.
The Magpies’ roster continues to look healthy in the attacking third, but, with Papiss Cisse injured and Mitrovic still stalling, splashing out on a Loic Remy or a Charlie Austin would surely give United more chance of survival this season. Former black-and-whiter Remy might even be available on a handy short-term loan.
Saivet and Shelvey won’t harm Newcastle’s fortunes, and new signings will always be welcomed on Tyneside, but this is a club that has repeatedly overstocked some positions, while ignoring others. Again, this seems to be the case.
For a long time, while Pardew had United ranking steadily on a modest budget, there were calls for Graham Carr’s scouting talents to be set free with significant funds; now, following the struggles of Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Remy Cabella, Emmanuel Riviere and Florian Thauvin, supporters are less convinced.
Saivet may have hallmarks of a Carr spot, but Shelvey doesn’t. There may be a shift in the transfer policy – a shift that will be affected further by the successes and failures of this window.
Whether signed by Carr, McClaren or any other club representative though, any new men must make an impact for Newcastle if they are to avoid the drop.