How good was this transfer window?

Posted on September 1st, 2011 | 33 Comments |

An assessment of Newcastle United's summer 2011 transfer window.
The actual transfer window, allegedly
The lack of an incoming striker for Newcastle United has left many fans disgruntled, but how does it look all told?

Newcastle’s failure to bring in a striker in this latest transfer window has caused something of a furore with many fans and I’ll come to that later, but I just wanted to summarise the transfers and see where we stand.


We’re pretty much where we were in this respect, but with the addition of Rob Elliot. Forster wasn’t here last season and Pardew obviously took a look at him in the summer, decided that he could do without him and thusly allowed him to return to Celtic, which was what Forster wanted anyway.

I have no idea what Rob Elliot is like and neither do I know where he fits into the goalkeeping pecking order, although I assume it’s behind Krul and Harper.

I think we’re pretty much unchanged in this area, although I suspect we’ll find that Krul is now first choice ahead of Harper.


It’s almost like a straight swap with Jose Enrique leaving and Davide Santon arriving. I think Enrique was a good player and his link up work with Gutierrez along the left flank was excellent and – by reputation at least – Santon should be an effective replacement. Whether this particular player swap works out better or worse for us remains to be seen.


We’ve lost Nolan, Barton and Routledge. Routledge was of course on loan for a lot of last season anyway but in terms of this season we’ve lost him as a squad player if nothing else.

We’ve gained Cabaye, Marveaux, Obertan and Abeid, although I’m not yet sure how the latter fits in terms of whether he’s considered ‘first-team’ or a ‘future prospect’.

I would suggest that in terms of positions Obertan is the replacement for Nolan because both can also play up front or off the main striker and we may as well call Cabaye the Barton-replacement, so – in terms of numbers at least – I’d say we have a stronger midfield.


Basically we lost Carroll in January and brought in Demba Ba in June. I don’t think many fans saw Demba Ba as ‘it’ in terms of a ‘Carroll-replacement’ and I don’t think the club did either; Pardew himself insisted that a new striker was a priority even after recruiting Ba. Earlier in the window Pardew said:

You need to have some sort of strategic planning about what you are doing and some sort or game-plan, and hopefully we are going to call that right. But you can get something out of the woodwork which throws it into disarray and you need Plan B and then you need Plan C. We are hoping we stick to Plan A, but we will see.

So much for that!

There are two ways of looking at the striker situation. We have the same strikers we did from January onwards last season and Ba to boot, so we’re actually stronger in that respect. So that’s one way to look at it. However we also have to factor in that Carroll and Nolan knocked in 23 goals between them and – irrespective of Nolan technically being a midfielder – I would suggest our strike ‘force’ (if you like) is worse than it was last season.

Of course we don’t know a lot of things yet. Cabaye or Marveaux or Obertan could knock in 10 goals for all we know. Likewise of course they could turn out to be flops. All I can make an assessment on is what I saw last season and what I’ve seen this season and I do think we’re worse off in terms of strikers.

I’m most curious to know why we failed to scout and sign a striker in the 7 months between January 2011 and August 2011. Our scouting network is reputed to be fairly good and, indeed, it seems there were plenty of alleged targets. Some – such as Gervinho and Gameiro – were probably beyond us in terms of the players’ ambitions but there were others who seemed like genuine contenders.

We were ‘transfer-rich’ too, so that should have given us an advantage. I certainly don’t think we should have paid over the odds for some ageing crock but I would have thought we could find someone decent in the £10-£15m mark, which would have still left us with a tidy profit on transfers this year.

The failure to recruit such a player must fall on either the scouts or the man doing the negotiating, which in our case is probably Mike Ashley.

Ashley may well have been ‘penny-pinching’ to such an extreme as to make deals impossible – I just don’t know. If I had to guess though I’d say it was more likely to be lack of experience in him not knowing when he has to ‘give’ something in order to secure a player for the greater long-term good of the club (both financially and on the pitch, both of which are linked anyway).

Was it all smokescreens? Who knows? It may well have been, although I tend to think it was more to do with incompetence and inflexibility in terms of the negotiating.

I could be wrong. Maybe there just simply wasn’t a suitable player available, although I find that hard to believe after 7 months of scouting.


The loss of Nolan and Barton puts quite a dent in the ‘team leadership’ aspect of things, which I think is a very important consideration. We could find that Coloccini and others step in and take up the slack, but it will take time for them to do so and – at least in the interim – I tend to think we’re weaker in terms of leadership.


At the moment I can’t class the transfer window as anything but ‘average’ because I just don’t know how things will pan out with the new players this season. If we can’t replace the 23 goals of Carroll and Nolan I think we’ll be in trouble though.

Total Income From 2011 Transfers: £49m (approx).
Total Outlay On 2011 Transfers: £13m (approx).
Net: +£36m


NUFCBlog Author: Hugh de Payen I'm a baby-boomer of the punk rock persuasion, currently exiled in Somerset for crimes committed in a previous life where locals keep trying to poison me with something called 'scrumpy'. Hates sprouts, coat-hangers, Cilla Black, ornaments, Steven Seagull movies and 50 Cent (he's not worth 10). Hugh de Payen has written 634 articles on this blog.

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33 Responses

  1. Simmo,

    if pardew walks away, he may get a decent job, else i fear this will be his last job in MGMT.

    on the contrary, if he goes we are F***ed, P***ed and s***ed in one go.

  2. Hugh,

    I’m curious. Why do we often see an analysis of transfers by income and outlay?

    It is interesting but surely the more correct analysis, as you have shown, is about quality, ability, and strengthening of the team. In this respect, we are far better now than before.

    What is important is not the amount of money spent but the quality that is bought. In this respects we have done really well.

    It would have been better if we added a striker, but would the fans have accepted any available premiership striker (eg Crouch, Bentdner, Beckford, N’Gog) in order to justify the £35 million? Almost certainly not. The fans appear confident that an unproven foreign striker, almost at any cost, is better value than any of those who have played in the premiership. I’m still not sure what rankles the fans more, not spending the money or not getting in a striker of their choice, and definately not one who has played in the premiership.

    I don’t know about Ashley’s negotiation skills but I guess they must be pretty good as you don’t become a very successful billionaire by being a soft touch. Very puzzling.

  3. Lies, Lies and more lies from the club. Although this time i had the common sense not to belive anything that was said. My only surprise was that Tiote was not sold, maybe no one came in for him or Im sure BFM would have made some extra profit to spend at Aspers.

  4. “We’re trying to make this club stronger than it was last year. As it stands, when we started the season, I’d say we’re not in that position yet, but hopefully we will be.” – Alan Pardew

    Therefore our own manager doesn’t believe we are stronger than last season.

  5. surely the way you build a football club is by adding to your existing team? not just swapping player positions over with cheaper versions that may or may not be any good?

    good transfer window? yes for fat ashley’s skyrocket.

  6. Roy, I agree. How can a window be judged successful if we haven’t added the extra bodies in that Pardew said we needed because our squad last year “was too small and lacked depth”?

    If we get any injuries in the defence and attack, who do we have?

  7. Kamar says: “I’m curious. Why do we often see an analysis of transfers by income and outlay?

    To be fair Kamar, that was merely an end note! Anyway, money is an important aspect in football these days. There books need to balance whilst a team improves on the pitch.

    It is interesting but surely the more correct analysis, as you have shown, is about quality, ability, and strengthening of the team. In this respect, we are far better now than before

    Well, in the midfield we might be better. Defence/GK is about the same and I think we might lack for the 23 goals I mentioned.

    I don’t know though. I haven’t seen enough of these new players yet to firmly establish whether we’re better or worse.

    The fans appear confident that an unproven foreign striker, almost at any cost, is better value than any of those who have played in the premiership.

    As you appear to be confident that our unproven midfielders seem to be better than the ones we had with a Premiership pedigree, yes?

    I don’t know about Ashley’s negotiation skills but I guess they must be pretty good as you don’t become a very successful billionaire by being a soft touch. Very puzzling.

    Football isn’t the shirt-selling business though. We’ve needed a striker for 7 months – our manager said so (even after Ba) – and Ashley didn’t get one. Judge for yourself what that means as to how he handled things.

  8. kamar, i think “not getting in a striker/ and/ not splashing the cash” are one and the same, really.

    Certain areas of the pitch can be gambled on, but strikers often need to show that they can do it at the top level – and that means splashing 10million, or equally preparing to bunce out a high wage.

    Irrespective of that, how did we not manage to offload Ranger to Birm/Blpool, or McLoven who looks well past it…..and take a cheaper 5m punt on Shane Long (who looks to have adapted VERY quickly), or one of the many other 5m rated strikers plying their trade abroad (e.g Bangura, Roux,et al)

    In truth, Ashley refused to spend in the one area it was really needed, UP FRONT. lets not forget Demba was free and has an injury record.

  9. Guys please stop going on about the carrol replacement rubbish he had half a season in the prem so wasnt proven and demba ba who came in after he left (not saying hes a replacement but its the player we have in his place) scored 7 in 12 apps IN THE PREM to me ba seems the better player on paper he might just need egging on to get his form im sure if he scores 1 they will roll in.
    in midfield i hate weve lost barton but meh we do have alot more pace and quality in mid this year and the youngsters are out of this world atm.
    and another possitive in best ive allways hated him he missed so many easy goals for my liking but he really seems hungry and focused this year if he gets a decent run who’s to say he cant get 15-20 this season his possitioning and finishing looks good enough so far

  10. its a shame we dont have security in strikers, if Demba got crocked, but…

    …if Ba remains fit, and HBA comes back for a substantial period, then I think we’ve got potential for good league position and a cup.

    I also see Vuckic and Sammy as important figures for the club now

  11. Yeah, also what happens if Colo gets crocked or more likely Saylor? Then what? We have no adequate defensive cover. Looks like we couldn’t agree terms with Lens for Situ according to .com. Shame.

  12. seems to be quiet on the newcastle board right now not the usual talk and give interviews here and there…oh wait. they must be having a long look at themselves in the mirror and coming to a conclusion and saying Oh cock!

  13. Hugh, thanks for the detailed reply.

    I’m confident of Cabaye. He has shown enough so far to suggest he is going to be really good. It was like seeing Tiote for the first time and you knew that he would be good. But can they play together?

    Ba looked good at West Ham, but as yet hasn’t reproduced his form. We wait and see although I don’t think he will get the nod over Best.

    Obviously Santon cannot be assessed but his credentials look very impressive. Only time and games will tell, which could be late in the season or even next season as both Colo and Enrique struggled to begin with.

    To me, the jury is out on Marveaux and Obertan as I haven’t seen enough of them but have seen glimpes of pace from Obertan and trickery of Marveaux.

    On balance, with the above caveats, the defence and midfield appears stronger whilst the forwards have not improved.

  14. —————-Krul——————

    Subs: Marv, Ba, Gosling, Willo, Raylor, Elliot.



    Subs: Marv, Vucikc, Gosling, Willo, Raylor, Elliot…oh, and Sammy!

  15. Going against the grain of waht most posts will be like on here, I thought on the whole it was a great window. We could have done with more cover in defence, though maybe we could get Tavernier and Kadar more involved as back-ups.

    I never thought the striker to be as important as most fans – and we should be playing 4-4-1-1 anyway, especially when Benny is back. I wouldn’t give up on Ranger as an extra option too.

    There are other positive factors this summer aside from incoming transfers. Gosling seems to be fit, hopefully Ben Arfa will be soon, young players like Sammy Amoebe and Vuckic seem far more ready than a year ago (in fact, S.A is a complete surprise) so there are several options as well as the players bought. So it’s kinda like 10 new players. Nearly all are in mf though, so in January – yes – we probably do need to focus on getting someone else in re- defence/attack.

    And we didn’t lose anyone major on the final day, like Colo. So, personally purty happy.

  16. What was the point of getting in another keeper?

    Was thinking, do we even have a midfielder who would be able to provide good through-balls for a pacy striker anyways? I think Ben Arfa will be great, he can create his own opportunities, not like an ‘offside-trap’ pacy striker like Hernandes.

  17. So we were perfectly happy to bid £10.6 million for Ruiz but we couldn’t get Maiga earlier on in the window because Ashley refused to match Sochaux’s £10 million asking price?

    Very likely.

  18. Good article. But I happen to think that a like-for-like analysis, misses one massive element – which is ‘mood’ in and around the club. Perception is very important.

    Put it this way – on paper the squad we had when we went down was far stronger than this or last season.. Martins, Viduka, Lovenk, Owen, Barton, Zog, Shola, Duff, Colo, Guti, Enrique, Nolan etc… should have been pushing for Europe not getting relegated… but the mood was SO toxic that we just capitulated.

    Also, 3 wins from the last 18 under Pardew was stuttering relegation form, we needed a massive lift this summer to arrest the slide.

    Add to the fact that everyone around us has strengthened – and standing still (a generous appraisal tbh) is tantamount to going backwards.

    Finally, to the main point – a striker was needed desperately, even the club recognised this – made even more pressing after watching Ba’s luke warm form so far.

    Not good… today we are allowed to get it off our chests, I guess tomorrow we move on and support the team – but not the owner, who must be looking to sell now.

  19. I think this transfer window was about two things: Gaul and gall. We brought in a host of French players who overall look very good, but the board displayed massive cheek in endless cries of seeking a major striker yet when push came to shove, none was produced.

    However, rather than lash out at the board, they may yet be keeping their powder dry – which makes more sense than making a last minute rash gamble, while at the same time saying to the existing strikers “OK guys, step up to the plate and show us what you can do.”

  20. pretty fair assessment. its definitely a bit of a big ? at this point with the midfield signings.
    i’m nearly always optimistic but i can’t help but echo your thoughts – we lost carroll and still haven’t got a top striker in, albeit not for lack of trying. head scratcher for sure…

  21. we of the toon army are a miserable lot really.

    Did i want to see Carroll go? no, but 35m for him is a hell of a lot more than he was worth.

    Nolan was the biggest disappointment in terms of our transfers out. It made no sense what-so-ever, and we lost a dangerous player, and more importantly a good leader.

    Barton, as well as he played last year, seems to be a disruptive bloke with the potential to sew a great deal of disharmony amongst the team, so i wasn’t that upset to see the back of him.

    Enrique looked like becoming in the same. A good player for us, but maybe a little thin on the professionalism (Rather that turn to Twitter for a little whinge, i’d prefer to see players just putting their heads down and concentrate on slogging their guts out on the park).

    In regard to our transfers in, i’m pretty happy for the most part.

    Santon looks quality and i think he’ll be a great replacement for Jose.

    Cabaye already looks solid, and he’s only had a few games under his belt.

    Ba did really well in the premiership last season, and it was in a relegated team. I think he’ll do well for us, although it would have been nice to get another established striker in.

    As much as i hated MA at the start of his tenure with all the crap decisions he made, i can’t really find too much fault recently, other than the Nolan out.

    Under sheppard we probably would have replaced Carroll. With an over-priced, over-paid has-been.

    Sorry about the all over the place post, but it sh!ts me to tears every time i read all these comments about how MA wants to get the club relegated etc etc. (It makes no business sense to sell off all the players and devalue his asset by playing in a lesser league!)

  22. I thought so myself Worky. The thought got me out of bed at 5:00 am (well,so did the cat), but it shows what was on my mind.

  23. Pretty happy at the moment, the team seem to be improving, the likes of Cabaye are certainly making a big effort. Teams like Liverpool have taken a massive gamble in attempting to reach the Champions League, John W Henry has said himself if they dont qualify it will be a disaster, we were never going to qualify this season, were not in their position. I`d like to see Vukic playing behind Ba, strong, quick and a decent finisher, very similar to Nolan.

  24. looking at the total outlay of 2011 transfer you’ve put 13m (approx) but everyone seems to forget that we signed Ben Arfa for around 6m in the January transfer window, which would put that up to 19m (approx) and the net profit down to 30m (approx) meaning we’ve spent more than everyone seems to think, and regardless of expenditure, I believe he have made some good signings, and made our midfield a lot more attacking minded and with a lot more pace.

  25. On the whole-Good!
    Coulda done with a LCG striker (for years), but not the shite that was bought by other clubs.
    Looking forward to seeing Santon.

  26. I woulda took a chance on Long/Maynard/Austin, lower league up & coming.
    But that’s just me!


  27. of a mind similar to Ausietoon. I wonder what the real story was with the Nolan negotiations. He brought a lot to our side, but if he was insisting on a 4-5 yr contract, I can see where the friction would be. Really wish we had signed another striker and I tend to agree with Hugh that it was probably very rigid negotiation parameters which caused our failure to get anyone “over the line”. Well, we’ve made our bed…