And today, we look at the third and final approach: the ideology of staying away from the overcrowded and inflated market: to effectively leave things as they are, to work with the side over the summer, solidifying the team both technically and tactically, with the possiblity of bringing in one or two new players if there are any departures.
There are several clear risks to this strategy – first and foremost, there is of course a strong possibility that there will be no improvement; Tiote will still be a liability, Cisse will still not learn the offside rule, and so on. If this happens and the club endures another poor season having made no attempt to strengthen the side, Pardew and Ashley will take an absolute hammering from the fans.
We saw the potential consequences of this in Reading, for example, who did not bring in any good players other than Pogrebnyak and Chris Gunter following promotion last summer. They fielded what was effectively a Championship side and paid the price, being sent straight back down to the Championship – Southampton, in contrast, realised their players weren’t good enough, invested heavily, and reaped the benefits, finishing five points and four places clear of the drop.
On the other hand, there are many potential benefits to leaving the side as it is. Firstly, unlike the examples just used, despite its poor season Newcastle’s first choice XI is quite clearly Premier League quality – there are too many internationals in there to call it anything but.
When examining the Premier League clubs whose sides are on paper of a similar level, generally it is the ones who have not chopped and changed excessively who have benefited the most.
West Brom, for example, have gone from strength to strength since coming back up without ever investing very heavily – their squad is still very similar to what it was at the start of the 2010-11 season, with Long, Lukaku and Yacob the only regular first team players to have been added to the side, despite the fact that in that period they have gone from 11th, to 10th, to 8th.
Indeed, Everton, despite finishing in 6th, do not have any players other than Baines or Mirallas for whom a convincing argument could be made that they would get into the first teams of any of the clubs that finished above them. The reason they are where they are is because of continuity rather than change – up until this summer they had kept the same manager and more or less the same first eleven other than a few changes up front, for several years.
Their strong league performance comes from the fact that they have been allowed to grow together as a team, and now understand each other and have very good team chemistry. Clearly, there is much to be said for keeping the side the same and instead trying to allow it to gel instead of constantly removing players as punishment for one bad season. Perhaps new tactics, not new players, are needed.
Overall, of those three policies it is difficult to pick the strongest option; each has its own pros and cons to it; bringing in experienced squad players would provide better atmosphere and leadership in the dressing room, as well as good, consistent service; new first team players could strengthen the side immediately; and leaving things as they are could allow the side to grow in the long term.
It is a topic that can be left for discussion, as it is only this time next year that Newcastle fans will know what this summer’s policy was and whether or not it paid off.
Have a look at the two other eventualities: ‘Fringe Spending’ and ‘Big Money Signings’