Chris Wood has praised his new employers Newcastle United for their transfer strategy, explaining why he is the perfect fit right now – but is also eyeing a key role at the club when they fulfil their ambitions.
Chris Wood was one of the first signings of the new era at Newcastle in January. Expectations going into the transfer window were big following their Saudi-backed takeover. However, the club had to be realistic while in a relegation battle.
One of their five mid-season additions was Wood, plucked from fellow relegation-threatened side Burnley. They activated a release clause in his contract to take him to Tyneside.
The New Zealand international has scored 49 Premier League goals from his Burnley days. But he is yet to get off the mark for his new club. Still, he has only made four appearances so far; he is confident he can find a bigger impact soon.
That said, he did not necessarily expect to find himself in the situation he does now.
“When the takeover happened, I could not have envisaged I would be one of the first signings,” he told the Telegraph.
“I’d read the rumours about [Kylian] Mbappe and [Erling] Haaland and all that sort of stuff. It made you smile, I suppose, on the outside looking in.
“Newcastle were not in my thoughts at all. The interest came as a surprise and it all happened very quickly – in the space of 48 hours. Callum [Wilson] got the injury, Newcastle needed another striker with some presence to lead the line and it was done two days later.
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“I’m obviously not in the same bracket as either of those two. I accept that 100 per cent. I am very different. But I was brought in to do a specific job and because I knew the Premier League – I was brought in to fight.
“Newcastle wanted players to make an impact immediately. It has been very pragmatic. They didn’t look to make glitzy signings if you like. We are in a relegation battle. It’s all very well signing players from abroad, but maybe they will need time to settle.”
Wood has signed a contract until 2024 with Newcastle. He can still envisage big signings joining the ranks while he is at the club.
Progress will be gradual
While retaining a realistic outlook, the 30-year-old does have European ambitions.
“Hopefully the dream signings can come later on when the club is more established,” Wood said. “They have grand plans and know where they want this club to be in the years to come. But they [the owners] are not ones to get carried away.
“It is the here and now which mattered. And that’s what they addressed in January.
“The club is going to progress and I’m sure the fans are already dreaming of playing in Europe. But if you look at Chelsea, Man City and PSG, it takes time. You have to build gradually, on and off the pitch.
“We’d like to be pushing for Europe next season. But in reality, we just have to keep progressing. Hopefully in five years, we will be challenging for silverware, playing in Europe; that is what the new owners want.
“The players know that. We will add more players, maybe some big names, but we will take it year on year. What you saw in January, is that the club didn’t just sign good players, they signed good characters too.”
Chris Wood wants longer Newcastle stay
Fully acknowledging he was not the most glamorous signing Newcastle could have made, Chris Wood still backs himself for success thanks to his hard work.
And in the long-term, he hopes it can earn him a place among the star attractions the club may sign in the future. Indeed, he is already eyeing a contract extension.
“The more I do for this team, the more benefits will come and the more likely it is we will stay up,” he said. “The more chances I will get to score goals too. I will work my socks off for this team; I will track back, I will defend, I will fill in where needed. That’s a big part of it for me.
“I’ve signed a two-and-a-half-year contract. I’m focused on the next six months but I want to be the focal point, that number 9 for the team next season.
“I know other players are going to be brought in to improve the squad, there will be other players brought in up top. But that will bring more out of me.
“I’m here to stay for the whole contract. I’d like to sign an extension. I want to be part of the journey this club is on and see where it takes me.”
Wood will be hoping to get off the mark for Newcastle when they visit West Ham on Saturday. A trip to Brentford is then their remaining fixture for February.
Their centre-forward will be focusing on those challenges for now. But it is evident he is already thinking long-term too.
Only time will tell if he will remain part of Newcastle’s plans by then.