Newcastle United Taking on Europe – A Football Manager 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?
New tactic working
So, apart from two frustrating games in the middle, things have really turned out well for us here. Not only are we now in the top 6 in the Premier League, but we're going to finish top of our Champions League Group, which is about a season ahead of our club objective. But things are looking good as we head into January, and with a few signings coming in, the sky might be the limit for this season.
January signings and departures
Emil Krafth – £1.5m
Having come back from injury, Krafth just wasn't ever really part of our plans going forward. He picked up a few extra appearances towards the end of December, as we wanted to help build up his fitness and make sure the injury was still lingering.
Jacob Murphy – £15m
I'm not quite sure why Everton bid £15m for Murphy, but I'm happy to take it. Murphy played a few key roles for us at the start of the season, filling it at RB, LW, and RW… but, he's not of the quality we want long-term, so it's best to let him go.
Jamaal Lascelles – £1.5m
Jamaal just hasn't had the chance to play, and with his contract out in the summer and his replacement secured, it seemed best to cash in.
Jesse Lingard – £2m
A move that's not really Lingard's fault, more just a change in tactic pushing him out. Lingard is too old to wait around not playing, so we felt it best to get him moved on and back to playing again.
Pierre Kalulu – £32.5m
We needed to sign another CB as cover for an ageing Fabian Schar, and while we had a lot of options, Kalulu being transfer-listed helped confirm our thoughts. Kalulu will slowly integrate into the squad over the next few months, and provide cover for Schar if anything happens to him.
Aaron Ramsdale – £25m
We needed a replacement for Pope in a few years and with Ramsdale being offered up by Arsenal at such a small fee, it was a no-brainer. With only £15m being paid upfront, it was the cheery on top. We'll still use Pope in the Premier League but likely rotate Ramsdale into the squad for cup matches, that should keep the pair of them happy, as we slowly phase Pope out of the starting 11 in the years to come.
Youssoufa Moukoko – Loan (£90m option)
So, this deal was sparked by a shock late approach by Spurs for Callum Wilson. Moukoko is a player I like a lot, I've had my eye on him since I joined, and with Dortmund willing to let him go, I had to pounce. Now, Wilson ended up staying, so we have a big call to make in the summer. With Hall joining on a mandatory deal and this option, our entire budget could be wiped out before we even get started.
January (and a bit more) Fixtures and Table
So, there's been some real improvement to the squad since the start of the season. We've advanced in the FA Cup, we're charging up the league and we secured a huge 3-1 away win in the round of 16. We're scoring for fun, though our defensive record is pretty terrible, hence the signings of Ramsdale and Kalulu. While neither will walk right into the first team, they do save us from having to rely on some of our, to put it kindly, not as good alternatives.
For now, the aim is to stay in the top 4 spots (though I think the top 5 might actually get us Champions League football), while looking to push on in Europe and try to win the FA Cup. With our current squad, and the form we're in, I think we can make a real challenge for the top.
As for the Premier League table, I'm really happy with how things have gone. We're on a real upswing in form, and while we've had a few injuries, we've managed to keep an incredibly fit squad.
Howe finds a new home
We're happy to see Howe pick up a new job and that his personal issues have been resolved.
Join us next time for part 5, where we'll close out the season. Will we claim a domestic title, just how far can we push in the Champions League and will we maintain that top 5 league spot.