“The Northern Notebook” is the the‘s weekly look at the issues and news setting the agenda for football in the north
Nick Hammond told Newcastle United’s owners the January transfer window would be the hardest of their time in charge as he praised the dynamic of the club’s new set up.
Hammond was on board as a transfer consultant during a tumultuous January window which saw the club spend £ 90million to help push them away from the relegation zone. The club had been hopeful that Dan Ashworth would be on board as director of football in time for the summer window but that is in the balance with compensation still not agreed.
First recruitment meetings have reprised the transfer committee of Eddie Howe, Amanda Staveley, Mehrdad Ghodoussi, head of recruitment Steve Nickson and Jamie Reuben – which navigated its way through January.
And if Ashworth is not on board by the summer, Hammond may even reprise a role he spoke about in detail at the recent Training Ground Guru recruitment webinar.
“I said to [the new owners] at the start, ‘This will be the hardest transfer window you ever have’ because you are literally a group of people coming together in a very short space of time and having to hit the ground running.
“Fortunately there’s a very experienced head coach there, a clear thinking guy, very precise in terms of what he wants. That is critical for a head coach – that clarity is massively important and thankfully Eddie Howe gave that.
“The owners were fantastic supporting him in terms of that.”
Hammond said Newcastle prioritized experience of playing in the Premier League and “coachability” to fit in with Eddie Howe’s system in January but that could change in the summer: “Decisions will be made in the summer moving forward and if they retain Premier League status it ‘ll be a different marketplace that they’re looking at. “
On his own role, the hugely experienced Hammond – a former director of football at Celtic – said he was “in the background” while others made the big calls.
“I thoroughly enjoyed it,” he said.
“It was interesting – here you have a group of people who all want to achieve the same thing but they’re new, they’re thrown together and all of a sudden in a short space of time you have to come together to make some decisions to try and strengthen the team for what is the short-term ambition of staying in the Premier League.
“I was a little bit more in the background than I would be as a director of football. This role was doing the checks and balances in the background; obviously having an opinion on the players who had been identified by Steve Nickson and his team di lui.
“My role was to advise the owners in relation to the players, due diligence around the players and financial aspects of the deals they were trying to do.”
Manchester United interest in Nunez
Manchester United have emerged as another club who are interested in Benfica’s highly-rated Darwin Nunez amid reports in Portugal that super agent Jorge Mendes may be involved in any summer deal for the forward.
The Uruguay forward has 26 goals in 33 games for Benfica and has attracted interest from Newcastle, West Ham and Spurs.
It’s claimed that current agent Edgardo Lasilvia only has a contract with the player until June and is keen to do a quick deal. Mendes has talked about “partnerships” and has extensive Premier League contracts.
Manchester United are known to be looking for a striker this summer and the prolific Nunez fits the bill. It is set to be a summer of big transfers with Harry Kane, Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland all potentially moving.
Everton press on with stadium plans
Everton may have published financial accounts showing a £ 120m loss but inside the club they remain fairly bullish about the future.
The accounts revealed the scale of the reliance on Farhad Moshiri but insiders tell the that will continue despite the sanctioning of his business partner Alisher Usmanov.
And they say the stadium build, which reached an important milestone this week with the “fourth corner” being installed, remains on track and is not under any threat.