Dan Ashworth is under no illusions as to what task lies ahead of him and the rest of the staff at Newcastle United as they continue their project.
Fans are starting to get a bit jittery after a run of games where goals have been more rare than hen’s teeth, and now off the back of three consecutive 2-0 defeats, the cracks in Eddie Howe’s squad are beginning to show.
However, we have to remind ourselves that we are still at the very early stages of the PIF’s project. In fact, as The Athletic reports, we are only just coming to the end of phase one and we are already ahead of schedule.
Dan Ashworth knows what it will take to compete
This season’s internal goal was a comfortable top ten finish and that looks likely to happen now no matter how rough our form gets in the back half of the season. We are 16 points better off than this time last season which translates to 10 league places.
Newcastle’s blistering start to the season defied all expectations, even amongst the more staunch sections of the Toon Army. Now that things are starting to cool off, fans are getting worried, but they don’t need to. What’s happening is natural.
The following paragraph from The Athletic sums things up perfectly: “Teams can only defy their pedigree for so long; eventually, deeper squads, with greater experience, will assume their natural positions, while others will regress towards their mean. Across a 38-game Premier League season, it is extremely difficult for the pretenders to outlast the established elite.”
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The January transfer window is tricky to navigate
Sporting Director Dan Ashworth remains calm as he’s already outlined the task which faces Newcastle if they want to be able to sustain a challenge for an entire season. Half of the squad of 16 players that Newcastle took to the Etihad yesterday were on the books when Eddie Howe arrived at St James’ Park. The boss has only had one summer transfer window to improve the squad and Ashworth has spoken internally of how it will likely take two more summer windows before the squad has the depth and quality required to keep up over a 38 game season.
January is famously a tricky transfer window in which to operate which is why Ashworth was keen to stress that the project will require two more summer transfer windows to become competitive. Eddie Howe was lucky with the signings he was able to make in his first transfer window at Newcastle, brining in Bruno Guimaraes and Kieran Trippier among others. This January was a better representation of the frustration that window brings with Newcastle only able to add Anthony Gordon to the first team – other signings being brought in more as we look to the future.
Wherever we finish this season, as long as it’s within the top 10, we can class it as a success. Especially when you factor in a Wembley cup final on top of the league performances.