McClaren: Newcastle signings are close

Date published: Thursday 9th July 2015 4:44

Newcastle, who play their first pre-season friendly at Gateshead on Friday evening, are due to head for the United States at the weekend, and McClaren is hopeful of having at least one new face on board by then, although he is adamant that the club will not make signings just for the sake of it.

He said: “It’s about getting the right players here. There has been a lot of speculation and we are close on one or two. But in the transfer market, you can be close or you can be miles away.

“It doesn’t really matter at one point, just so long as we get the right players. But it would be nice if we could get one or two; if not, we’ll just have to be a little bit more patient and make sure we get the right players.”

Newcastle have been engaged in discussions over big-money targets such as PSV Eindhoven midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum and QPR striker Charlie Austin for several weeks now, but are yet to reach the stage where they have been able to make a decisive move.

Asked if he could understand the frustration of fans who were excited by owner Mike Ashley’s end-of-season pledge to invest in the squad, but have seen little tangible evidence of its implementation to date, McClaren said: “Yes that’s right, but again, they have to be patient.

“There’s a long way to go before the end of the window, there are still quite a few weeks before the start of the season and it’s important what you have at the close of the window.

“Everybody is waiting for it, expecting it. Everybody knows what the objectives are and everybody knows that we have got good players here. But we need to improve on that.”

Asked if the target was to make several £10m-plus signings by the end of August, he said: “That would be nice.

“Yes, I think the targets we have talked about and the positions to improve, we are talking about one, two, three, four, five, they don’t all have to be top ones.

“We have to make sure not just the team is right, but the squad is right. There is a willingness from the club to do that, but there is not a panic in a business sense to do it.”

Newcastle have concentrated for much of Ashley’s tenure to date on the continental market with France a particular focus, and while that has paid dividends in the past, more recent forays have yielded less than satisfactory results.

The club will continue to exploit chief scout Graham Carr’s knowledge and expertise in Europe, but the move out of the bargain basement to more salubrious surroundings presents its own challenges.

McClaren said: “We’re close. We are working very hard behind the scenes.

“When you buy players for up to £5m, there are loads of them and in that respect, Newcastle would be top of the tree. When it’s £5-10m, there are still a lot of them and we would be right up there competing with that group – and there are a lot of players in that group.

“When you go above that and look for a calibre of player to improve what we’ve got and to achieve our objectives – which we know, and thank goodness we know them – that makes a huge difference.

“The objectives have been set and we have to fulfil them, and that’s what we are doing, so when you go £10m-plus – and there is a lot of speculation about that level of player at the moment – they are Europa League and Champions League players at top clubs.

“There aren’t so many players in that bracket, so the competition is higher. It is more difficult to recognise their availability and get things done.”

McClaren spoke at the club’s Darsley Park training headquarters on Thursday as he and his staff put the players through their paces.

He did so as the minutes of the latest Fans’ forum meeting, which both he and managing director Lee Charnley attended earlier this week, were published.

McClaren told the forum: “There’s a great determination with myself and the board and the people behind the scenes to take the club forward.

“The key thing was Mike Ashley’s interview before the West Ham fixture. What he said must have given everyone at the club an enormous lift. Certainly I said that for whichever head coach came into the club, what a fantastic situation. That’s what I’ve sensed going around and meeting people.”

Asked about a perceived lack of passion among the players last season, McClaren revealed that Steve Black, who has joined the coaching team as a consultant, had already started to stoke the fires.

He said: “Speaking of passion, when Steve Black had his first chat with the players, he frightened them half to death. Everybody knows him and his reputation and it has been well received.

“He’s good at his job and has done it in every sport. He has told the players that we are here to help.”

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