Newcastle United Taking on Europe – A FM 24 Stories series. Join us as we look to continue on from where Eddie Howe left off and challenge Europe's elite. But can we hold our own, while managing a small squad and a tough domestic fixture list?
A hectic first week at the office. We've had the press barking at us for a press conference, players asking about their future, and more agents than I can count offering us players from all over the world. Anyway, it's time for our first real day in the office, and we've got a lot of work to get done. Firstly, we need to get ready for our pre-season, and it's an intense one. Our first Premier League game is just two months away, and before then we've got Eight pre-season friendlies to prepare for and a starting 11 to find.
First up we have a small matter of an inter-squad friendly, a chance to throw a few of the lads at each other and see who comes out on top. For this one, we'll pit two strong 11s against each other, and see who comes out on top. There's not really a lot we can learn from these games, but it will be good to see as many of the lads as possible at once.
So, pre-season is over and honestly, it's been decent. While fitness is the key, getting some goals on the board is always nice. It's not all good, sadly, as we suffered two major blows at right back. Trippier will miss the first 3 weeks of the season, while Livermento is likely to miss at least the opening. This leaves us without much natural cover, so it means sticking a left back on the right or using Murphy as a makeshift for the opening few games. The latter might be the correct play, honestly, while Murphy isn't a full-back, he does attack well so it should be ok.
Otherwise, everything else went well. We got game time into Tonali and Gordon who returned late from the U21 Euros, and returning players Joelinton and Longstaff got two games under their belts before the season opener.
The ins and the outs
So, we need to add bodies to this squad, but we do not have a lot of cash. At the start of the window, we had just £5m in transfer funds and around £140k a week in wages. We can do a little bit of money movement to get some extra funds, but it might be best to get a few more players off the books first.
Javi Manquillo – £5m
While it was Brentford who first approached us for Javi, it was Al-Feteh who eventually took him off our hands. Manquillo has been a servant to Newcastle since he joined, but he wanted a new challenge post-injury so we let him go. The £5m fee is a big deal for us, and the £40k wages off the books cover one of our new signings one-for-one.
Martin Dubravka – £6m
With Karius on a new deal, and Pope not going anywhere, it seemed pointless keeping three top keepers at the club. So, Martin was best to get off the books. His £60k wages off the books helps us with one of our new signings, and the £6m fee goes a long way to helping us out.
Jesse Lingard – free
With our change in formation, we needed a little extra support up the top of the pitch. With Gordon missing most of pre-season due to England U21 duty, Anderson was a little isolated as our Shadow Striker. So, in comes hot prospect Jesse Lingard. He almost joined Newcastle when Howe first came in, but fast forward a year and a half and he's without a club. While he was training in Saudi Arabia, we managed to pull some strings and get him a trial with us for two weeks. We were happy with what we saw, and think his experience will help a lot. We've also secured a “no making TikToks” clause in his contract so we think that's going to help him settle.
Wilfried Gnonto – £15m (initial £11m)
Gnonto has had some issues with Leeds since they dropped to the Championship, and when his agent offered him to us, we had to act. It's a big fee for us to pay, however, at such a young age, and given his versatility he could be a steal. Capable of covering as a striker, attacking midfield and left-wing, Gnonto is a lot of player for such a small fee.
Jack Thompson – £425k
The young stopper from Derby, while our scouts were not too sure, it's a small risk to take. We currently lack much in the way of young keepers in our academy, so this might be a trend each transfer window as we find a replacement for Pope long-term.
As the transfer window draws to a close, let's take a look at the fixtures that we played up to that period.
So, we really, really missed Tripper/Livermento in those opening games. The Everton draw hurt, with Isak missing Wilson had a moment to shine. Sadly, a few minutes in he missed a penalty and he never recovered. Everton took the lead shortly after and we just about scrapped a draw. As for Chelsea… well Murphy wasn't able to hold Sterling back and he tore us apart, a bad day at the office. Onto Palace, and with Livermento back we secured our first win. Livermento got an assist and picked up a Man of the Match award proving exactly what we've been missing thus far.
And that's it for the start of the season. Next up we'll see the transfer deadline day, and a look at our Champions League Group.