Beckford was the subject of quite intense interest from Newcastle back in January and was the target of a sequence of bids made by the club for his services. None of those bids were deemed acceptable by Ken Bates despite Beckford handing in a transfer request at the time, which he later retracted and moved to quash any more rumours by announcing he would be opting to sit out the rest of his contract at recently promoted Leeds United before leaving on a free transfer in the summer. That whole episode has apparently put Hughton off from re-igniting his interest in a player that would cost nothing to sign, despite a January admission that he would be interested in securing the services of the 31-goal striker for Newcastle.
That deal looks dead in the water now, and there have been a number of reports in recent weeks of Newcastle staff being present at games in the French league, with the latest one being Lyon v Auxerre which Hughton himself chose to watch from the stands. And the quiet man has given his strongest hint since the release of ‘the statement’, that there could still be some new faces through door during the summer. Hughton said:
“We’re identifying the players we need to bring in. We’re aware of what we have to do to the squad, and the areas we need to strengthen, and also the cover we need.”
“I don’t think there’ll be a lot of players coming in, but we need a squad capable of competing in the Premier League. I can certainly see players coming in, but I don’t see wholesale changes.”
That certainly sounds a bit more encouraging and could be an indication that plans are underway to reinforce the playing squad with players that actually cost money, although probably not a lot of it. Money spent on a player doesn’t guarantee the success of a signing though, and some of our most fondly remembered players of the last few years have cost peanuts compared to some of our so-called stars.
Can you honestly say players like Albert Luque and Michael Owen have provided more for the team compared to someone like a Sebastien Bassong or a Habib Beye? No. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding how any of them left Newcastle, you can’t question that for value for money Beye and Bassong trumped Owen and Luque hands down, and they were both relatively unheard of before their arrival on Tyneside.
What we need to do is compliment what we already have, and fill in some of the missing pieces. Evolution, not revolution, should be the key. With Hughton’s latest statement we can be pretty confident that he knows what needs doing, and the fact he is still looking around for players should indicate that funds are available, however limited they may be.