[dropcap]S[/dropcap]ince the departure of Alan Pardew to Crystal Palace, interim manager John Carver has steadied the ship to some degree, with the St James’ Park faithful treated to another underwhelming season of Premier League mediocrity.
It seems apparent that the potential for the North East club to challenge for a top-six place could be there, but there needs to be a summer overhaul and some fresh thinking at the club.
With Carver unlikely to be handed the manager’s job on a permanent basis, getting an innovative head coach in place and backing him in the transfer market will be key for Newcastle to progress.
The club’s transfer policy has been of specific interest in recent seasons, with some excellent business from the Tyneside club counteracted by a willingness from Mike Ashley to part with the team’s best players.
The scouting of European markets has been a key feature of Newcastle’s recruitment policy and two deals involving full-backs in recent times stand out.
The summer acquisition of Daryl Janmaat has proved to be a rare plus point this term, with the Dutch right-back heavily impressing in his debut campaign in English football.
However, this positive has been offset by the treatment of Davide Santon, who has been sent to the doldrums this term and off to Inter on loan – a permanent exit at the end of the campaign has been all but confirmed.
Attacking ambition in the full-back position has been a trademark of Newcastle’s play in recent years, with France international Mathieu Debuchy epitomising this during his tenure at the club.
However, when the defender made his desire to move to Arsenal known the club worked quickly to find a suitable replacement, ensuring the team’s threat on the right flank remained.
The Netherlands international has offered up six assists in the league, the second most of any defender in the division, and even slotted in at centre-half recently without looking flustered.
However, on the other side of the scale, allowing Santon to leave the club for a pittance seems farcical.
The 24-year-old did not play a a single minute of Premier League action for the Tyneside outfit this season before his return to the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza and was clearly deemed as surplus to requirements – despite Newcastle’s defence being stretched to breaking point at times this term.
Since returning to Inter Santon has been a consistent figure in an under-performing team and as such has been rewarded with a call-up to the Italy squad for the upcoming international friendly clash against England.
With reports in Italy stipulating that the left-back’s permanent move back to Inter will cost in the region of £3 million, it doesn’t seem like smart thinking from Ashley and the Newcastle powers that be.
Santon has suffered from injury concerns this season and may have wanted a move back to his homeland, but letting a player of his calibre leave before any new manager could appraise him, and for such a modest fee, seems ridiculous.
It is likely that the playing squad will be shuffled this summer and it may get worse before it gets better for the extremely loyal St James’ Park faithful.
However, for Newcastle to reach their potential, keeping Janmaat, adding further quality, taking a look at the club’s transfer policy and increasing expenditure must take place.
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