Hughton, we’ve had a problem…

Hughton making the most of it

Hughton making the most of it

We waited with bated breath, following weeks of anticipation, even though the outcome was almost inevitable. Despite rumours of several incoming loans and transfers, today’s 5pm transfer deadline passed with only one addition to the squad and undoubtedly the biggest positive most fans took from today was that it appears that we managed to keep hold of everyone currently signed on.

Peter Lovenkrands proved to be the only body we managed to get on board before the summer transfer window slammed shut. Opinions of Lovenkrands are fairly high, ranging from those who think he’s canny squad player to others who think he will set The Championship alight. I’m at neither end of the spectrum but I suspect he will get more joy at this level than he did in The Premiership.

The problem is, that he represents what’s wrong with this football club, like they’re making it up as they go along. It seems both we and Lovenkrands flirted with the idea of a longer contract but could never agree and yet we had to go back, cap in hand because the situation was so dire that we had few other options. He’s a good option, no doubt, but it’s frightening that’s he so far the sum total of all our transfers-in activity. And how much has Hughton been kept in the loop as his public statements have cried out to the board to signal the arrival of new recruits while at least his pleas to stave off the sale of anymore of the current squad presumably were honoured. Who knows what ideas Hughton had and how many of the names mentioned in the public domain were on his wishlist?

Throughout the day, rumours abounded that a list of players were being mooted as potential targets. Everton’s James Vaughan and Tottenham’s Gareth Bale had apparently both been on our list for a number of days but added to that were Man Utd’s young Northern Irish centre half Craig Cathcart and his team-mate, midfielder Darron Gibson. It was also rumoured that we were in the running for Kilgallon from Sheff Utd and Marlon Harewood from Aston Villa. In the end, not one of those rumours transpired to be anything more than just that, rumours.

So where does that leave us exactly?

To be precise, I believe with the players that have gone and those that have come in to replace them minus those that have gone out on loan, we’re approximately ten or eleven men short of the squad we had last year and without tempting fate, are we so much more confident in our ability to keep that small squad of players fit when we couldn’t last year? Perhaps, the feeling is that these players want to play and there’s a good argument for that. Maybe also with that change in attitude we’re playing better as a unit.

Certainly I was impressed with the dogged determination and team spirit on display at St James’ last night. I was also relatively impressed with some tidy football in spells. However, a good start to the season and an apparently much-improved ethos at the club can’t detract from what is evidently a painfully thin squad. Yesterday, Hughton felt it necessary to get some fresh legs on to help us see out a 1-0 and in the process was forced to give three youngsters their league debuts. That’s after five league games and one cup outing. It promises to be a long, hard slog and already we’re without two of our recognised strikers (with the greatest of respect to both lads, it amuses me to take stock and remind myself that we’re talking about Shola and Andy Carroll here). And we’ve had to force Danny Simpson into a makeshift centre half.

According to the rules, we’re still officially allowed some ‘emergency loan’ players and quite frankly if any club can call on some favours in times of an emergency it should be us? But are we actually looking? It seems to me that the board and even some fans appear to think we have a good blend of youth and experience. I agree. We’d have a hell of a seven-a-side squad but this is an eleven side game in a physically demanding league. It may be a fair point that you can get players on loan after the window shuts but why wait? We need these players in now. Unless we have some loan deals up our sleeves I can see this tidy little start ending in tears.

Over the last twelve months, everyone has had their own ideas and own say on what they think Ashley is playing at but quite frankly with the sale of the club apparently stalling and a continuation of his tenure looking as likely as a sale, it beggars belief that we haven’t invested further in this window. I’m not sure I know exactly what his game is. I only hope he does and I also hope he’s looking to jack it in sooner rather than later. Nothing about this regime convinces me that our lofty position is anything other than a decent combination of good fortune, lesser opposition, good circumstance and some remarkable work by a worthy group of players and two men in Hughton and Calderwood who are achieving more than we ever gave them credit for.

For the moment, we have a team and two managers who we can be rightly proud of it and we can only hope and pray it stays that way. Despite uncertainty about their own future admist the takeover saga, those remaining have just got on with the job. I just hope in the way that they haven’t let the fans down, they have not been subsequently let down by the board to the extent that our season dovetails once the inevitable injuries begin to mount up.

avatar NUFCBlog Author: bowburnmag bowburnmag has written 234 articles on this blog.

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28 Responses to “Hughton, we’ve had a problem…”

  1. 1
  2. 2
    avatar Beardsleys Boots says:

    Not long ‘tll January window opens.!!!!!
    LOL (NOT)
    What a disgraceful way to run a club.
    Absolutely clueless. No effort to buy even 1 player that we need so desperatly. Just got Loverpants because noone else wanted him….great.
    feel proper down in the dumps now, after such a grand start to season. Bloody anti-climax as per usual.
    :(

  3. 3
    avatar Hugh de Payen says:

    Top post BBM.

    I must admit, although I didn’t expect anything major in this window, I thought we’d bag a few more players on loan.

  4. 4
    avatar Archie Brand says:

    So dont we get until midnight to file the paperwork, as is normally the case, which means that there could still be a few surprises around the corner?

    I suppose they are trying to save money and the idea is that if it all goes pear shaped between now and Christmas then we can always throw a few quid at it then.

    Personally I can’t claim to know what kind of shape the finances are in. Maybe a little bit of thrift now will help keep us a viable concern.

    The only thing you can be sure about is that the clubs finances are on a much sounder footing now than when Ashley bought us. I think credit should be given for that. How much longer could we have survived with a stadium mortgaged up to the hilt and players being bought over the entire duration of their contract.

    Did we actually finish paying for Duff before we sold him?

  5. 5
    avatar Big Mick says:

    to be fair, you can still sign loans and out of contracts till the end of the month anyway, so all is not lost

  6. 6
    avatar crobit says:

    good article, right to the point & reads like good sense.
    I personally think Lovenkrands is a good option – but I agree with Beardsleys Boots, dissapointed we did’nt get a few loans to bolster the squad today.

  7. 7
    avatar Hugh de Payen says:

    Archie, I’m not convinced we are in better financial shape now. Sure, Ashley loaned the club £110m to clear a lot of debts (which was the best thing he ever did for NUFC) but we’re also down a division, which has a pretty big financial impact in terms of income.

    I do, however, appreciate that there was never going to be a big spending spree in this window but any ‘savings’ made by not increasing the squad (through loan players if necessary) to give us cover have to balanced against the risk of not getting promotion at the first attempt.

  8. 8
    avatar workyticket says:

    crobit says:
    September 1, 2009 at 8:57 pm

    “good article,”

    Yup, but the title’s even better!

    That’s a cracker, Bowburn. One of your best so far I think. You underestimate people like Lovenkrands and Hughton though.

  9. 9
    avatar summerof69 says:

    yeah it was a good arrticle and yes i think he does undersetimate hughton and mr lover lover but i mean i didnt see as much as i would have liked to of mr lover ” but everytime i did see him i was impressed as for hughton i would give him the full time job if i was more confident in his ability to manage in the premiership that is i mean why not i think he ticks everything so far in terms of tactics, motivating, man handling, signings, (i like simpson and as i have already stated i rate mr lover ”) and i imagine hed be good at developing players as hes a coach and he certainly got the best of ranger last night plus he always goes about his job with dignity and he certainly enhances the tattered image of the club

  10. 10
    avatar summerof69 says:

    im not saying give him the job im just saying he should be considered i mean imagine that eh newcastle having 1 manager in 1 season i know its hard to think of something so poposturous but i can always try though curbs is still my no 1 choice

  11. 11
    avatar sniffer says:

    We don’t have to complete loan signings today as we’re in the Championship. We’ve got an extra week to sort these out. We can’t sign anyone else though (unless they are free agents).

  12. 12
    avatar bowburnmag says:

    My point in the article though was why wait? Why haven’t we acted? I can’t believe there wasn’t a contingency in place to allow negotiations to take place should the possibility of Ashley staying look more and more likely. If we signed Lovenkrands permanently then why no loan deals lined up? I’m not suggesting it’s all over but instinct tells me this is more of the same from the board. Last minute decision-making seems to be synonymous with this regime.

  13. 13
    avatar workyticket says:

    Bowburn, most of it goes back to the idea of trying to sell the club at a really bad point (twice). You just can’t plan in the same way, you’re stuck on the Billy Mill roundabout.

  14. 14
    avatar bowburnmag says:

    Also meant to add, what constitutes an ‘emergency’ loan and how accomodating will the rule-makers be if we try to do all of our business using that method? Now new owners could justify those actions so perhaps that’s the way forward but I don’t think we’re that lucky.

  15. 15
    avatar bowburnmag says:

    Yeah but surely there are two outcomes and you make plans for either though worky? I’m not suggesting it’s easy but they just give me the impression they’re winging it now and hoping for the best return possible. Which could really set us back.

  16. 16
    avatar batty says:

    iam suprised people realy thought we were gonna sign any 1 iam just over the moon no 1 else has left loven boy is a bonus to me so we have to crack on and try to get promotion

  17. 17
    avatar Ever seen a mackem in Milan? says:

    I’m think emergency loans are short term (2-3 months?) but there is no limit on the amount you sign.

  18. 18
    avatar summerof69 says:

    i agree with bowburn i mean surely they can plan ahead just incase they werent sold

  19. 19
    avatar geordie Jack says:

    PLAN? somebody thought they had a plan?!? The incompetence of Ashley and co just defies belief!

  20. 20
    avatar Hugh de Payen says:

    I think we’ll only see long-term planning at the club when Ashley has gone.

  21. 21
    avatar workyticket says:

    The bairns were long term planning, Hugh.

  22. 22
    avatar Hugh de Payen says:

    True Worky, but that was instigated when he was planning to keep the club.

    As of now we won’t get any long-term planning until he sells.

  23. 23
    avatar workyticket says:

    Hugh de Payen says:
    September 1, 2009 at 11:37 pm

    “As of now we won’t get any long-term planning until he sells.”

    Of course not Hugh, but that’s what the majority of the fans wanted, so now they’re getting it. This idea that Sheikhs, tech billionaires and all the top managers would be queueing ’round the block to be the next Ashley or Wise was always deluded.

  24. 24
    avatar geordie deb says:

    Batty
    ‘iam suprised people realy thought we were gonna sign any 1 iam just over the moon no 1 else has left loven boy is a bonus to me so we have to crack on and try to get promotion’

    Agree Batty. All I was bothered about today, was who else they may try and sell if there were used fivers on the table.

  25. 25
    avatar Hugh de Payen says:

    workyticket says:
    September 2, 2009 at 12:00 am says:

    “Of course not Hugh, but that’s what the majority of the fans wanted, so now they’re getting it.”

    Quite right too though. Ashley has proven himself to be utterly incompetent at running a football club. He’s even admitted that himself. Fans are quite correct to want rid of him.

    “This idea that Sheikhs, tech billionaires and all the top managers would be queueing ’round the block to be the next Ashley or Wise was always deluded.”

    Yes, I think Ashley was deluded into thinking it would be easier to sell the club than it has turned out to be.

  26. 26
    avatar bowburnmag says:

    worky – I honestly don’t think I underestimate Hughton and Lovenkrands. Good attitudes, hard-workers but ultimately I still think Hughton is trying to convince himself as much as us that we wants the manager’s job.
    If he wants it and he keeps on performing then why change it? I’ll give him time to prove me wrong.

    But he’s doing a fine job of actually doing it. As I said with Lovenkrands, I feel he’s a decent player and will probably benefit playing at this level. I’ll also give him time to prove me wrong.

  27. 27
    avatar Cyprus-Toon says:

    Ashleys thinking will be if we get any players in, he’ll have to pay their wages & that will increase the wage bill again, maybe not as much as buying high priced player but it will up it somewhat, so he’s not bothering & will expect us to play with what we have, like it or lump it!!!

  28. 28
    avatar Cyprus-Toon says:

    Houghton & Calderwood have a better win % as managers than both Big Sam & JFK now, so if Ashley wants a manager, why would he change how the team is running??? he won’t, Houghton & Calderwood will stay in charge until we’re brought out & the new owners want their own man!!!

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