Ex-Toon phlebotomist Freddy Shepherd seems to think our chances of hanging on to resident goal-merchant Papiss Cisse will be slim this summer and suggests that we may receive offers too good to refuse for the player. Shepherd had this to say about our prospects of keeping the player:
“It’s impossible, if they want to go, it’s no good keeping them. I think there may be an offer Newcastle can’t refuse for Cisse coming in.“
However, there’s an important part of his statement we shouldn’t overlook and that’s: if they want to go. There is perhaps an even more important thing that Shepherd didn’t mention and that’s if Ashley wants him go because when all said and done that will be the deciding factor.
I can’t say for certain what Cisse wants of course but my guess would be that, with a good finish under our belts this season and some sort of European football to look forward to, he might just fancy staying with the club. There’s always the risk that a club like Man City or Chelsea – or maybe even Spurs or Arsenal – would offer a big wage and a better finish (this season, anyway) to try and tempt him away, but we’re not too far from the running ourselves and our club could be seen as one on the up. Maybe Cisse would choose to stay with us anyway.
So it then comes down to the idea of a ludicrous offer and how that might tempt Ashley, as was the case with Carroll. I suppose it depends how ludicrous any sort of offer is. If Carroll was worth £35m to Liverpool then I’d wager that Cisse must be worth at least that if not more. Although in a sense I think Carroll was a bit of a one-off, sold to a club with a new manager desperate to make an impact. Right place right time and all that.
I know the realities of our club which, simply put, means it must pay for itself. But I don’t for one moment think Ashley would risk selling too many players and seeing us slip once again back to mediocrity. Even if his first concern is the advertising he gets for Sports Direct from Newcastle, his purposes are best served via a high profile for Newcastle United. So my guess is that Ashley would want to hang on to Cisse – and indeed the crux of the squad we have now – for next season.
Having said that, I don’t think he will compromise his financial principles and if players need to be sold to make those principles work then they certainly will be. I’m not party to the operating financials of the company, so I can’t say what particular budgets need which particular figures to balance them. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t be surprised if some players were sold, presuming the right figures were being bandied about in relation to them, although I’d like to think that Cisse won’t be one of them.
I could, for example, see Demba Ba leaving. He had a tough night on Wednesday but, by and large, he’s done an excellent job in his new role as the left side of a front three, but – as a striker – he lives for goals and I think his frustration at not having got one recently is fairly clear. I can see a team tempting him away with the lure of a permanent position at centre-forward. He’s done the job in a professional manner for us without kicking up any sort of fuss but I believe he would rather be the main front-man, which he would easily be first choice for in many clubs.
I don’t think anyone will be sold on the cheap though. It’s a bit like my hat: that’s been all over the world with me and you couldn’t buy it off me – all battered and scraggy looking – for what I paid for it. But it definitely has a price. Not too high a price if truth be told, but if we somehow readjusted the Newcastle United budget to my hat buying budget, I’d make you pay for it.
When all said and done, I’m less worried about wholesale selling at Newcastle than I was earlier in the season. I can see some players going if the price is right but I think we’ll strengthen in the necessary areas and hang on to the crux of the team that’s done so well for us this season.
As to next season, I have no idea what we can achieve. Our rise from relegation to mediocrity to relative success has been quick and there’s always the worry that this season is a one-off. Who knows? Maybe some judicious squad additions and the ironing out of some of the inconsistencies will make us even stronger next season. I’m certainly looking forward to finding out.