EVERY single Newcastle United player is uncertain where they will be starting the new season, according to the club’s frustrated goalkeeper Steve Harper.
The Easington-born keeper has called for an end to the state of limbo that is undermining the club’s attempts to bounce back into the Premier League at the first attempt, but there is little prospect of that at the moment.
And with the club looking to shift their high earners – and a clutch of United’s established first-team players ready to slap in official transfer requests – Harper feels that no one can be sure where they will start the season.
It is now almost two months since the club’s relegation to the Championship but the frustrating impasse continues, with the claims of sources close to the takeover that a deal was imminent proving not to be case.
Most importantly for incomings and outgoings, Newcastle have no manager – an impasse that is likely to continue for the foreseeable future, despite claims Joe Kinnear was set to make an unwelcome comeback.
The reports were dismissed almost instantly by Newcastle officials who will move forward with Chris Hughton still in charge.
The remit of the caretaker boss has not been extended to dealing with recruitment or letting players leave – that will be down to his eventual successor. But the uncertainty over who that might be is causing consternation in the camp.
“The players are very disappointed with the situation. Obviously what happened at the back of last year, to fall a goal short was demoralising,” Harper said.
“Players like structure and discipline and at the minute the structure is up in the air. The players don’t know whether they’re going to be here or elsewhere come the start of the season – none of us know at the moment.
“It’s a situation where, as players, we have to concentrate on getting as fit as possible for August 8. But the sooner the better for us to get things resolved.”
The words of the longest-serving campaigner in the United dressing room are just the latest dispatch from a camp clearly unsettled at the way the club is being run.
Kevin Nolan, Nicky Butt, Steven Taylor, Sebastien Bassong and Jose Enrique have all uttered similar sentiments, laying the
disenchantment of the first-team squad bare for owner Mike Ashley.
But despite their unrest, Hughton is adamant that the players have been training well and applying themselves professionally during these crucial weeks in pre-season.
“Whatever has been said, the application of everyone has been excellent. I can honestly say that I can’t fault any player for what they have done during pre-season,” Hughton said.
“Their requirements are to be as professional as they can be in training and during the games, as and when they come up. It’s inevitable that the longer the situation goes on without a resolution the more and more will be written about it.
“That’s something we have no control over, so we just need to get on with it.”
Like most concerned with Newcastle United, Hughton is still waiting for developments on the managerial and ownership front.
“I’m not quite sure when something is going to happen. I just ignored the story about Joe (Kinnear), to be honest,” he said.
“I have spoken to Joe a couple of times about his recovery from the operation and I do check up with him, but not about anything else.”
While he is still uncertain about his own future, Hughton was happy to see Jonas Gutierrez and Bassong return in good shape after international exertions.
“They both have applied themselves well and we’re glad to have them back. We’ve not had any real injuries so far, which is pleasing, and there is a chance that Oba Martins will be back in full training on Monday.”