I think I follow the lead of many thousands of Newcastle fans in remaining cynical about the takeover news. I'm one of many thousands who will only believe it once it's completed. I used to say I would only believe it once I saw the new owners sitting in their seats at St. James' Park. But with the lockdown in place, I think I'll ease that until it is completed.
It has happened so many times over the years where fans have had their hopes built up. Most of the big transactions with clubs being bought just happen and then they are released. But it seems with Newcastle the whole build-up to the takeover gets played out in the public domain.
I've got to say that this one has the strongest indications that something is in the pipeline, and obviously the new owners come with an extreme amount of wealth. But if and when they do take the club over, the first thing they need to do in this awful time is to take the staff members who've been furloughed and reverse the decision like Liverpool, Spurs and Bournemouth have done. That would make a massive impact around the football club and its supporters.
After that let's see what their plans are in terms of investment in the first-team squad, which initially is the most important thing, and then, as I've talked about in this column many times, what investment they will have for the infrastructure of the football club in terms of the training facility for both first-team and the academy, to make sure the club can push on and be challenging.
I absolutely agree with my old teammate Tino Asprilla about wanting Newcastle to emulate Manchester City's success. We all dream of having those scenarios where there are trophies coming in on a yearly basis, whichever trophy it is. Any club would take following Manchester City's lead. There's a lot of questions to be asked before then.
Perhaps the biggest question is will they be able to change what's been a broken club? Because for the last 12, 13 years the club has been broken in terms of there not being a real strong relationship between the manager and the board, which is crucial, you have to have that. There's also been a massive chasm between the supporters and boardroom level, which means the club can never, ever develop into being successful when there's that much going on.
It's been difficult for the players at times as well because they've had to try and get results in amongst all this carnage that's going on which they can't control. A lot of credit has to go to them for trying to get on with the job as best as possible. They'll be excited with the takeover news, with their being possibilities of new investment in the squad. Every player wants to be involved in a team that's challenging for things and I think that these lads at Newcastle are no different.
Of course you're going to get this speculation about Steve Bruce being replaced and the arrival of new players aren't you. That's why it is imperative if the takeover happens, then the new consortium needs to get their plans on the table immediately and explain what is going on. I always go back to when Sir John Hall took over. He had an initial meeting to say what his plans were, gave it a couple of weeks and then decided Ossie Ardiles wasn't the man to take the club and forward and within hours of Ardiles leaving the football club, Kevin Keegan was appointed, and that's how you have to go about your business. You've got to explain what you are prepared to do in terms of squad investment, the infrastructure and then deliver. Who's to say there could be things already lined up. If the deal does get ratified I think every Newcastle fan is hoping things move very quickly.
In terms of Newcastle's takeover always being in the press, as I touched on earlier, you don't know which side it's coming from. You don't know if it's coming from Mike Ashley or the potential buyer, who might be getting excited by the prospect of being the new owner of the club and telling someone. People who have been in the business long enough know there's not many secrets in the football world. Ultimately it's backfired because those deals haven't gone through. It's one of the reasons why Newcastle fans are not prepared to be celebrating until the announcement is made, even though this is the most amount of progress made on a takeover deal.
I think most people in football want it to happen. I've been listening to many of the pundits and they all want to see a resurgent and a challenging Newcastle United team again, the one that's going to be going for all the trophies that are available. Things will likely not change massively overnight. There is going to have to be a structure, and they are going to have to convince the top players of their plans, if that's what they are going to do. That's jumping the gun, for sure. It's wishful thinking on the part of Newcastle fans that they are hoping they can be an example of something like what's happened at Manchester City. It's all hypothetical and if's and but's. You have to remember when Mike Ashley first took over, there was a lot of excitement and optimism because here was this billionaire, a very, very successful business man taking over the club. But he has followed his business life in terms of the football club and ran it as a sustainable business.
Sometimes I laugh when I read that certain fans are worried that their clubs are in debt. Fans are not worried about what debt is at football clubs. Fans want to see top players on the pitch, they want to be entertained. They are not going to worry if the football club owes the bank £500m if they've got a fantastic team on the pitch, that is up to the directors and the owners to manage and service their debts. Fans want to see the best players on the pitch every time they go and see a game, and I think that is what Newcastle fans' biggest gripe has been. Newcastle is one of the best, if not the best, run football clubs in terms of business in the Premier league. It's probably one that makes money. But the fans aren't interested in that. That's why there's been this disappointment that some of that money hasn't been spent on players to get them up the league and challenging and being competitive again. But I know everyone is praying that the new ownership comes in and takes the club back to its rightful place.
NEWCASTLE U23S DIDN'T KNOW WHO I WAS!
My old manager at Newcastle Graeme Souness was a very, very successful player and coach in terms of what he won across his long career.
Graeme speaks a lot of sense in his punditry work as well. He has been aggressive in terms of his criticism towards Paul Pogba, but I'm sure Paul himself would not be happy with how he has performed on his return to the Premier League with Manchester United in terms of his consistency. I think there have been flashes of what he is about and if you dissect what Graeme is saying, it is that Paul has all the tools to become the one of the best, if not the best midfield player in the world.
It is typical of the young modern player with the comeback that Paul made, saying he didn't know who Graeme was. I think that was a little bit below the belt, but I do know there's lots of players in the modern day, and this isn't them being arrogant or ignorant, who actually don't know players of my era, never mind Graeme's era.
I remember going into Newcastle last season just to help take a training session with the U23 group, and as I got introduced, a couple of players didn't know who I was. And I played over 260 odd times for the football club and only played my last game in 2006!
My advice to Paul would be, if you're dealing with someone like Graeme, you should listen, the same goes for Roy Keane. These are players that have been successful midfielders, captained teams to major trophies. Paul's won the World Cup with France, but you can't blame Graeme or Roy for not doing the same. Graeme was never going to win it with Scotland and neither was Roy with Ireland, absolutely no chance!
They were still exceptional players, so I think Pogba was having a bit of a cheap shot and could have responded in a better way, because certainly in terms of punditry wise, the likes of Graeme Souness, Roy Keane, Gary Neville, you sit up and take notice of those people without a doubt.