Newcastle United has been a club struggling to find its feet in the Premier League in recent times. Mike Ashley took over a debt-ridden club having paid £134.4 million to buy the side in 2007. His first responsibility was to clear the debts and make new investments that will establish a solid base upon which to build success for the coming years. So far, he has done both, but his efforts have not been enough.
His first recruitments were Alan Smith from Manchester United in addition to Jose Enrique and Joey Barton, for a combined fee of £23.4million. Then he added Habib Beye, Tamas Kadar, Abdoulaye Faye and David Rozehnal. This brought his total investment for the season to £33.72 million. A 12th-place finish on the league table was the result.
Since then, Ashley has consistently invested additional funds year-on-year, breaking the £40 million barrier in the 2014/15 campaign. Players like Remy Cabella, Siem De Jong, Emmanuel Riviere, Karl Darlow, Daryl Janmeet and Jamal Lascelles were all brought in to strengthen a side that finished 10th in the previous season. Unfortunately, the expenditure did not equate success on the pitch as the side struggled all season culminating in a 15th-place finish on the league table.
To improve the situation, further investments were made in the 2015/16 campaign. With a budget outlay of more than double the amount spent in the previous season, Georginio Wijnaldum was the headline signing for just under £18 million. The Dutchman was fresh off the back of helping Netherlands Eredivisie side PSV Eindhoven to the league title as captain. Other good recruitments included Serbian striker Aleksander Mitrovic and Jonjo Shelvey.
Chancel Mbemba, Florian Thauvin, Henri Saivet and Andros Townsend also joined the club, bringing the total expenditure to £96.45 million. Again, unfortunately, the worst happened. Not even Rafa Benitez (with all his experience) could help the club avoid relegation.
The Spaniard was, however, able to steer the side back to the Premier League last season. Some players were moved on while new additions like Jacob Murphy, Joselu, Javier Manquillo, Florian Lejeune and Christian Atsu helped the Magpies maintain top-flight status in the 2017/18 campaign. A sum of £39.47 million was invested for the new acquisitions, but with the competition in the league getting stiffer, more is now required.
Yet, it is important to note that Newcastle has made more investment in players in the last decade than sides like Bournemouth that are doing very well in the league. For instance, the total transfer expenditure by the Cherries for the 2017/18 campaign was £34.30 million which was less than that of Newcastle. Their performance so far has been quite different. So making the right signings that will add value to the club has been an issue as most of the signings in the last few years have not been a good fit.
Of course, a club like Newcastle should not be competing with Bournemouth, with all due respect to the Cherries. Tottenham has become a consistent top-four challenger now competing in the Champions League while Everton is giving the top six a run for their money this season. Newcastle deserves better than the club is currently getting. With a top-class manager that has shown commitment to the club, the requisite investment must be made to get the club back to where it belongs – fighting for trophies rather than against relegation.
Ashley has stated that he is not willing to put any more of his own money into the club. At this juncture, it will be best for everybody that he sells the club to a willing investor who is ready to make the necessary investment to change things.