Newcastle United

Paul Merson insists Newcastle are not guaranteed success despite their big-money takeover, and says they need at least 17 new players.

The £300m takeover of Newcastle United has officially been completed, with a Saudi-led consortium ending Mike Ashley’s 14-year ownership of the club.

Newcastle’s new owners are expected to replace Steve Bruce as head coach, but no decision has yet been made on when this might happen.

Speaking in his latest column, Merson believes success won’t be instant at St James’ Park, and suggests that the playing field has levelled so much that it may not come at all.

Watch Newcastle’s first game since the takeover against Tottenham at St James’ Park, live on Sky Sports Premier League from 4pm on Super Sunday; kick-off 4.30pm

‘They need 17 players!’
I think people are getting carried away. People are thinking: ‘This is a Jack Walker situation at Blackburn.’ Absolutely no chance.

I don’t want to be a party-pooper, but one: Everyone has money now, and two: Newcastle need 17 players!

It’s not like they have a good core of a team already which they can top up with a couple of world-class players. They need everything.

You can’t just go out and buy the world, and even if you could and bought five £150m players, that won’t win you everything. You have to go and buy a team.

The sort of players Newcastle will be in for in January are Jesse Lingard and Dele Alli. Good players, who will be better than what Newcastle have, but they can’t get into their own teams. What’s that going to win you? Nothing.

I’m not sure if the owners understand that this won’t be an overnight success. This isn’t Football Manager the game. That isn’t happening.

In this day and age, if anyone goes to Newcastle, they’ll be accused of going for the money. What else would they be going for? They’re not going to be winning anything! These top players want to play in the Champions League!

It’s not like Jack Walker and Blackburn in the early 1990s, where they went out and bought the best striker in Alan Shearer and surrounded him with good players, making a near-instant impact. Those days are long gone, that was 25 years ago. The playing field is a lot more level now and the spread of wealth is across more teams.

‘This isn’t a five-year job’

Newcastle have Allan Saint-Maximin, who could go and play at a bigger club, and Callum Wilson, who is a good centre-forward. That’s about it. But the first marquee signing Newcastle make will surely be a star centre-forward anyway!

I don’t want to be a party pooper, but this isn’t a five-year job. If you asked me to choose between them winning the league at some point or never winning the league, I’d go with never.

The owners won’t just put money in forever, it doesn’t matter how much you’ve got. They’ll want to see success fast, and I don’t think they’ll understand what it takes to get to the top. They are 17 players short.

If they had bought Arsenal, I would have said: ‘Woah’ because they have players already. They only need four or five players, and it would take them half a billion to turn them into challengers.

With Newcastle, they have to stay up this season – which I think they will – but they are fighting.

Who could manage Newcastle now?

The money and the fans will take the next manager to Newcastle, and it will be inviting in that sense. But if you go now, you might be going to lay the foundation for eight or nine years’ time. You’re not going there for success now.

If they went and signed Kylian Mbappe and Harry Kane tomorrow, not a lot would change. They’re not going to start winning football matches because they can’t defend, and the midfield don’t create much. It doesn’t matter who is up front!

You have to start from the back, make them solid, but Newcastle fans want entertaining football.

Frank Lampard did brilliantly at Chelsea, and brought the kids through. He had a major part to play in the success they’ve had since he left. He gave youth a chance, but all of a sudden, when he had to go and sign £70m players, it was a different story.

It needs to be intelligent signings, not just gung-ho. With Manchester City’s success, there was a lot of good scouting along the way. It was not always a case of: ‘Buy him, buy him and him.’

They did their homework and brought a lot of success.

The manager will play a big part in what players want to sign for Newcastle, because nowadays, everybody pays the big money for players. It’s a level playing field.

Fans’ expectations have gone through the roof, but there’s a long, long way to go.


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