The Agenda: While Newcastle United need an overhaul, Sunderland must crave stability

Sunderland are crying out for stability, while Newcastle United have had more than enough of that. But will either get what they need this summer?

Newcastle United's Shola Ameobi
Newcastle United's Shola Ameobi

We are in the lull, the fallow period at the end of a football season. The play-offs have been played and the World Cup warm-ups are just getting started.

The media is full of transfer stories as club make their plans for the season to come, but actual signings will be hard to come by for some time yet.

Like blokes at Christmas, most football clubs will wait until the last possible minute to make their purchases.

Meanwhile, supporters up and down the land will be much less patient, drawing up mental wishlists, but what will the summer actually hold for them? Newcastle United are in need of a shake-up, Sunderland are crying out for stability. The Black Cats will certainly not get their wish, and the Magpies probably will not either.

For once, the problems facing the North East’s two Premier League clubs are very different.

The Magpies are suffering from a period of stagnation, paying the price for Mike Ashley keeping his money in his pocket for three of the last four transfer windows when investment was clearly needed.

At the Stadium of Light, it is totally the opposite. Once more the squad will be ripped up and started again.

Tony Marshall/Getty Images Loic Remy of Newcastle United
Loic Remy of Newcastle United

The list of players Newcastle are apparently looking to move on is a very long one. Shola Ameobi is definitely going, his contract having been allowed to expire, and for opposite reasons the loans of Luuk de Jong and Loic Remy will not be made permanent. But the Magpies are apparently very open to offers for the likes of Hatem Ben Arfa, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Sylvain Marveaux, Massadio Haidara, Davide Santon, Jonas Gutierrez, Haris Vuckic, Gabriel Obertan, Romain Amalfitano and Mehdi Abeid. A good spring clean is much-needed at St James’ Park.

If allowed to continue into August the malaise that set in during the second half of last season could even drag the club into the relegation mire, improbably thought that seemed when they started 2014 looking up the table to Europe.

But you can say with a fair degree of confidence that not all of those 10 players will be playing elsewhere next season. Unless Ashley budges on his transfer policy, that will be no bad thing.

In one of the rare missives when the St James’ hierarchy deem it fit to communicate with the banes of their life, those pesky supporters, Lee Charnley reiterated the club will look to sign “one or two” players per year. In the same statement he did also say the club would continue trying to “underpromise and overdeliver” so we should not take the figure as Gospel, but those who place too much expectation on a great overhaul of the squad will be sorely disappointed.

Fortunately in that respect, those who place great faith in anything the regime tells them nowadays are a dwindling bunch. You would think, having narrowly avoided relegation, Sunderland fans would be looking forward to a similar revamp.

There is plenty of deadwood accumulating at the Stadium of Light, much of it added by then-director of football Roberto De Fanti last summer.

But every summer, almost every transfer window, on Wearside seems to involve a dizzying turnaround of players and where is it getting them?

Fourteen new players came last summer, five in January – the best part of a squad.

Changes do of course need to be made, but there were encouraging signs at the end of last season of a decent side starting to form, even if it was not particularly well supported by those in reserve.

Paul Thomas/Getty Images Phil Bardsley
Phil Bardsley

Too many of the core unit – Fabio Borini, Marcos Alonso, Santiago Vergini and Ki Sung-Yeung – were only on loan. Phil Bardsley has already bailed out after his contract expired, and Jack Colback and Sebastian Larsson may well do likewise.

Unlike Newcastle, who have had a bit too much of that recently, Sunderland are crying out for a bit of stability. Unfortunately, it will have to wait for another window.


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer