‘Some clubs in Europe see Newcastle United as a bit of a bogeyman’ – Euro football expert interview
European football Andy Brassell believes Newcastle United will prioritize building up their infrastructure before making any big moves in the summer transfer market.
The Magpies were the biggest spenders in Europe in January after shelling out around £90million to bring Kieran Trippier, Dan Burn, Matt Targett, Bruno Guimaraes and Chris Wood to Tyneside.
Work soon turned to adding behind-the-scenes experience to improve the skeletal infrastructure left behind by the club’s former owner.
While the scope of former chief executive Lee Charnley’s work spanned multiple roles, the PIF-led consortium is looking to bring in more key figures at all levels of the club.
Co-owners Amanda Staveley and Mehrdad Ghodoussi currently oversee the daily running of the club, but steps are being taken to strengthen the infrastructure.
Negotiations with Premier League rivals Brighton are ongoing as United seek to appoint Dan Ashworth as technical director and several candidates have been identified for the vacant chief executive position.
Speaking as recently as this weekend, co-owner Staveley discussed plans to improve the club’s training facilities and academy and invest in the Newcastle United women’s team.
Brassell believes the club owners are moving in the right direction to ensure the success of the ambitious St James Park project.
He told NewcastleWorld: “I think they did well not to go in and buy 12 or 13 players before they had the infrastructure in place.
“There’s a difference between accepting that you’re going to spend a lot of money and accepting how you should spend it.
“If they’re spending a lot, it’s not really important, it’s about getting it right.
“It will be different when Dan Ashworth is involved because they will have the experience on board and they can take their time to grow.
“Newcastle is working on it by putting in place a football infrastructure and maybe that’s what some people outside the city don’t realize.
“The team, how uninteresting it has been on and off the pitch for a number of years, that’s the tip of the iceberg and you look at the training facilities, all those other things that have not been maintained.
“Even more than buying big players, making that effort to connect with the community will be core to how this project works.
“They understand how those small wins, those easy wins like improving the women’s team and wanting to understand the community, are the reason the project will work.
“That’s why owners are valued and why fans and the community will buy into the project.”
“Some clubs in Europe see Newcastle as a bit of a bogeyman, but most see it as an opportunity”
Brassell was in Tyneside last weekend as part of a La Liga TV event held at the Old George Inn.
The event marked the broadcast of El Gran Derbi between local rivals Real Betis and Sevilla and saw fans from both domestic and overseas clubs watching the match at one of Newcastle’s oldest pubs.
Any Magpies supporters present would have witnessed a disciplined performance from Newcastle transfer target Diego Carlos, who played the first 45 minutes of a 2-1 victory for Sevilla.
United made several offers for the Brazilian centre-back in January and could revisit the deal at the end of the season as they look to strengthen their defensive options.
Other targets have been identified with further attempts to lure Lille’s much-loved Dutch centre-back Sven Botman to Tyneside also reportedly on the agenda.
Sevilla and Lille both resisted offers for two of their key players during the January window – and Brassell believes a successful deal agreed by the Magpies could have impacted both clubs’ prospects.
“Some clubs in Europe see Newcastle as a bit of a bogeyman, but most see it as an opportunity,” he explained.
“If you go back about five or six years, when the last Premier League TV deal was, in France and Spain, there was a feeling of playing a different sport.
“Then there were upper-middle French clubs who saw the opportunity to sell a player and cover their budget for the season.
“There was a player tax in the Premier League and it’s already happening in Europe.
“The most influential transfer in Europe in January was that of Chris Wood to Newcastle.
“Even though it was a transfer between two Premier League clubs, it was the moment when Newcastle couldn’t play hardball anymore.
“Executives like Monchi (Sevilla sporting director) and others in Italy and France would not support Newcastle saying they had no money because this deal proved otherwise.
“I think there will be the Premier League player tax, but also the Newcastle United tax.
“They will have to pay a little more than other clubs because of their situation and Manchester City and Chelsea have experienced that following their high profile takeovers.”
“I haven’t seen Newcastle talked about in European circles for a few decades, it’s really amazing”
Brassell – who has covered games across Europe for several major outlets throughout his career – is excited about the prospect of a newly energized Newcastle.
Although many spectators suggested it would be difficult to attract the biggest names from the North East, Brassell insisted that the Magpies’ successful transfer for Lyon’s highly regarded Brazilian playmaker Bruno Guimaraes, was a signal of intent.
The Brazil international midfielder has been eyed by a number of Europe’s biggest clubs but is now settling into life at Tyneside and made a major impact by scoring a stunning winner on his full debut for Southampton on Thursday night .
At just 24, Guimaraes fits the profile of a promising and exciting player who Brassell believes will become the norm at St James Park over the next few years.
He said: “I haven’t seen Newcastle talked about in European circles for a few decades, it’s really amazing.
“The idea of Newcastle, which people outside the city have, even in England, is quite different from reality.
“People think it’s almost Scotland, just out of the way, always cold.
“It’s not fair, it’s not factual or reasonable, it’s a lingering perception and it will take time to change.
“What we saw with Manchester City was that they needed a few big dominoes to fall and they were players with history and respect, that changed things.
“That’s why the deal with Bruno Guimaraes was so important, because he’s a player they paid a lot of money for, but not an unreasonable amount.
“He is someone who will convince other players that Newcastle know what they are doing and that the good players of the future and the present will want to go there.
“They want that image of being young, enthusiastic, promising as a club, and it makes sense that they target players in that mould.”