Newcastle fans were hoping for some additions being signed in January, particularly a midfielder and a winger, but Steve Bruce’s latest comments may have them worrying that nobody will arrive.
Bruce has been cagey about the impending transfer window for a while now, but the feeling among some fans was that he may be playing expectations down, in a bid not to alert rival clubs of his targets.
But speaking to reporters at his pre-match press conference on Thursday, Bruce has put real doubt over any potential signings being made, and it is a huge concern, given the obvious need for one or two to come in.
He said: “I’ve said all along, if there’s something that can improve us…but if I’m brutally honest, I can’t see it in January because nobody wants to sell their players.”
While I understand his feeling regarding quailty, it is his little “I can’t see it in January” snippet that causes concern.
By now, the world and its mother knows Newcastle have been linked with Championship hotshot Jarrod Bowen, and with the player openly being non-committal over his future, there are sure signs that a deal is there to be done – no matter how hard it might be to complete.
Similarly with a midfielder. There have been numerous links, with one report even going as far as to suggest the £13 million signing of Strasbourg’s Ibrahima Sissoko was virtually a done-deal.
So his “I can’t see it in January” argument seems a very big stretch.
Bruce’s next comment was equally troubling.
“I’ve been delighted with the squad so far. I still haven’t seen some of them. I haven’t seen Dwight Gayle, really. I haven’t see [Yoshinori] Muto really playing for me. I haven’t seen [Florian] Lejeune play for me,” he added.
It sounds like the old ‘he’s like a new signing’ phrase to me. And whereas all Toon supporters are aware of the quality Lejeune brings to the side, unfortunately, they also know that Gayle struggles to score in the Premier League, and Muto is simply not good enough.
If Bruce is relying on Gayle and Muto to transform a forward line already struggling for goals this season, then he is set for a very rude awakening.
And if his lack of ambition in the winter transfer window results in Newcastle being sucked into the relegation zone, it may well be a decision he rues while sitting at home waiting for his next potential employer to call him.