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The Transfer Policy Debate: Big Name Signings

Papiss Cisse cost Newcastle United £9 million

We yesterday released the first part of our 'Transfer Policy Debate', looking at the strategy of investing in older, more experienced players to bolster the thin squad. And today, we look at the second approach: the ideology of investing in 'big name players' for big prices in hope of achieving immediate success.  


Here are the three options again:

  • Fringe investment: Alan Pardew has often bemoaned how thin his squad is, suggesting a need to bring in a few experienced squad players who can supplement the first team and ensure that when quality players are injured the team does not suffer too badly.
  • Big name signings: Some fan sites and blogs have argued that what the team needs is new quality – players who can slot into the first choice XI immediately – and can provide immediate success.
  • A Quiet Market: the third, and most likely option, is to leave the team largely as it is, with only one or two new signings to allow the lubrication of a side gelling together.

If, as many eager fans are suggesting, it is a host of new first team players that the club require for next season, then there are many arguments for and against this argument.

In favour, it can be argued that the club’s poor performances throughout the season and the way that some players have either seemed uninterested or unable to match up to the standard of the Premier League proves that new, fresh, hungry players are needed to push the club back up to the standard it set last year.

The likes of Cisse and Tiote in particular, and to a lesser extent Cabaye and Gutierrez have spectacularly failed to build on their performances last year and push the club forward.

Whilst the new signings made in January did just enough to propel the club away from danger for a while before slumping again, it does appear that some first team players need removing, and new ones put in their place.

If the right players were put into the side, it could recover and have a strong season next year, and hopefully rebuild after this year’s disaster.

However, there are also a few issues with this.

Firstly, the right players need to be found. Unfortunately, unlike in the worlds of FIFA and Football Manager, just because a player happens to be quite good it doesn’t mean that he will be a good fit in the Newcastle first team.

A potential target should first be scouted, and have his style of play examined.  Then, and only then, his potential to play well within Newcastle’s tactical framework should be analysed, and so on.

If done properly it is a lengthy process, and the right player can take a while to find. As well as that, if like so many of Newcastle’s recent purchases he comes from overseas, his ability to adapt to a new style of football and life in England must be taken into account.

Once the right players have been signed, there is then the process of “bedding them in”. Some players are lucky enough to slot straight into a side and look as though they’ve been playing there for years, but this is quite unusual.

Normally they take time training and playing with their new teammates before they are a comfortable and fully adapted member of the team. In a case of many new players arriving at once, this can take even longer and often the side for a while looks somewhat disjointed as players are learning each other’s runs and movements.

Then, finally, there is the financial factor. As much as Newcastle’s financial shrewdness of late has been praised, it is unlikely if any big players are sold that they will be able to command as much as they did 12 months ago given the year they’ve just had. Any potential new first teamers are likely to be pricey, both in terms of wages and in terms of fee.

The Premier League has seen more than enough big-money flops in the last few seasons to know that any big price tag, no matter how good the player seems, is a gamble. 

So, though many fans would cite this approach as the most beneficial of the three, it’s not always as fruitful as it sounds. The financial and tactical risks involved would perhaps make this policy the least likely approach. This one is ultimately in the hands of Ashley, whether he’s willing to break the bank or not… Enough said?

Tomorrow we will be publishing the third and final transfer strategy: ‘A Quiet Market’, and investigating the positives and negatives of standing off in the market to allow continuity and for the team to gel. 

Comments Welcome

Click on the Picture of Ryan Nelson to See the First Part of the Debate

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  1. The Transfer Policy Debate: A Quiet Market | The Spectator's View

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