Alan Pardew’s calls to add greater experience to his Newcastle United squad will again be ignored this summer after Mike Ashley signalled he and Lee Charnley will play a more involved role in transfer dealings.
Manager Pardew’s squad is in need of a major overhaul, and he admitted at the end of last season he would like to see more experience added to the squad, which has not had a permanent addition in that time.
But new managing director Charnley has insisted the policy of buying players young and cheap, which has always been one of Ashley’s guiding principles, will remain. Ashley formally joining the board for the first time yesterday and the absence of a director of football point to the sportswear tycoon playing a more hands-on role this summer. “Our transfer policy and strategy is very clear and will remain unchanged,” he told the club’s official website after being announced in his new job yesterday.
“We will focus on identifying and recruiting young players whose best years are ahead of them, which in nearly all cases means players in their early to mid-20s and not beyond. In addition, we aim to strengthen the squad underneath the first team to make sure we have a strong group of players pushing our regular first team for a starting place each week. This is essential to bring out the best in everyone and provide an important element of continuity to the squad for the longer term.”
With Papiss Cisse the only senior striker under contract for next season – Loic Remy and Luuk de Jong are on loan, while Shola Ameobi’s deal is in its final weeks – and Yohan Cabaye still to be replaced, major additions are needed. Pardew has made it plain those two positions are of particular concern, and maintains Ashley realises the problem, and intends to do something about it.
Charnley, though, was keen to play down talk of a welter of signings. “Our intention for the first team is to sign one or two players per year to strengthen the squad,” he explained.
“It is important we don’t over-promise and under-deliver for our supporters, players and staff. False expectations lead to disappointment and frustration, hence why we will keep our transfer business confidential and will not be drawn into commenting on the media speculation and rumour that exists in this digital world.
“Our preparations for the summer transfer window have already begun, and our challenge is to make sure we spend the funds we have available in a careful and considered way to ensure we get the maximum benefit from every pound we invest in the squad.
“We will continue to operate in a financially responsible manner and live within our means. This club is financially strong and there is money to spend if the deal is right and we are confident a player can add quality to the squad.”
The post of managing director has been vacant since Derek Llambias left at the end of last season. In the short term the void was filled by the appointment of Joe Kinnear as director of football, but his failures led to a rethink.
Charnley’s promotion suggests Kinnear will not be replaced.
The decision to go with a director of football was seen as a curb to Pardew’s power, so leaving the post vacant should only strengthen his hand, despite growing misgivings among supporters.
In his previous role as secretary, Charnley was always part of the transfer team, but his new title suggests he will have more power. So too does Ashley’s formal appointment to the board, although in reality he has always had the influence that goes with his new role. His appearance at four recent matches suggests a greater engagement with the club this summer.
Charnley has been a member of the board since 2008.