What can Newcastle United supporters expect from the transfer window? Squad status was reviewed after the last transfer window here.

Looking back at past form arguably not a lot, On the other hand, when it came to a relegation threatened campaign in January 2013, the boat was pushed out for 6 new signings. 

The senior squad is of course governed by FA rules. It already numbers 25 with a home grown quota of 8 needed to maintain the full 25. Knowing past unwillingness to waste wages on squad members who are over and above the limit, we can surely expect movement out before movement in. 

We recall that Hatem ben Arfa was allowed to leave when out of favour. Other loan deals were done with options to purchase, such as Santon, Mbiwa and Cabella. In order to appreciate the scope for new signings, the starting point probably should be looking at who can find the exit door. 

There are a bunch of players out of contract in the summer. These could be the first casualties, if that is the right word. Some may wish a shop window to secure lucrative contracts elsewhere, others may bide their time to improve their negotiating position whilst picking up their loyalty bonus. More loan deals are an option. 

The first names on the list of expiring contracts are Obertan, Marveaux, Taylor and Williamson. Between them they have a total of 4 starts between them this season, Obertan with 3 despite being fully fit and the injured Taylor 1. 

Taylor can expect to be retained as cover, Williamson, having impressed on loan in the Championship is wanted. There may be French clubs who would take Obertan and Marveaux. That creates space for 3. 

Others who are out of favour include Cisse, allegedly attempts having been made to sell him in previous windows. His injury, out for 3 months, realistically precludes that possibility. It does mean however, that cover for him is required. 

De Jong has similarly appeared sidelined by McClaren, with only 3 starts. Next up is Thauvin with a further 3 starts and Gouffran with 1.  The first two could still attract some decent cash with the latter apparently wanted in France. Bigiramana is also out on loan. 

Conceivably, cash could be raised with as many as 7 places created in the squad. Added to what should be available (covered here), the budget could stretch beyond £60m. 

The next question is what is needed. The current league position suggests that too many goals have been conceded, too few scored. That points to strengthening defence and attack but if the problem is chance creation, Newcastle having fewest attempts on goal in the Premier League, perhaps midfield too. 

Whether McClaren is welded to his 2 defensive midfielders or not, there seems to be a growing sense among supporters that this limits width, especially given that two right footed central midfielders/number 10s are deployed out wide. Width is an obvious challenge. 

In goal, Elloit has deputised well for Krul. Darlow is back up as is the hugely promising Woodman. Central defence could be made up of any permutation of Coloccini, Mbemba, Taylor and Dummett with Lascelles and Good also on the sidelines. Despite Mbabu starting well, an experienced left back might be a priority with a secondary target of an experienced long term replacement for Taylor and Coloccini. 

Newcastle have not really consistently performed since the sale of Cabaye. Arguably, Wijnaldum or Sissoko could fulfil that creative role but there would hardly seem to be a better time to push the boat out for someone like Shelvey, thus bolstering the home grown element. 

Of course, to allow perhaps our two best midfielders to move inside, that would mean the purchase of a right winger and Thauvin to either start or be replaced. Townsend is another home grown who might fit the bill on the right, the left could be anybody’s guess but |Aarons has yet to show a long injury free run. 

That leaves a battle for an experienced striker, despite encouraging performances so far from the young pair of Mitrovic and Perez. Austin is the obvious target, even if it means going that little bit further on fees. Remy is a loan back up. 

In principle it seems so simple, a left back, 2 wingers, a proven striker and ball playing midfielder. The budget should be there, not least to protect next season’s income of an estimated £120m over and above Championship revenues. 

There do of course remain two important questions. The first of those is whether the manager is skilled enough. His tasks would be to merge the new players into a coherent unit. 

It would seem reasonable to assume that armed with appropriate tools on the pitch, McClaren could start to show results within 5 games. Still with 2 years left on his contract a shuffle upstairs might allow him a role in contract negotiations. 

The second of those questions is whether the current board are ambitious enough and sufficiently competent to get those transfers over the line. Certainly, a squad overhaul combined with sufficient investment should attract the right sort of player. Beyond that, a willingness to invest should send the right message to any potential new manager. Sir Bobby’s former sidekick is looking for a new home! 

As ever, the ball is in Ashley’s court. Does he want to invest some of his revenue into a global brand or is he prepared to gamble on a return to the Championship. Other clubs have shown what can be achieved for a little investment in the right places. 

It is no secret that Newcastle have been surpassed by the likes of West Brom, Stoke, Swansea, Southampton, currently even Palace, Bournemouth, Norwich and Watford. 

Ashley is now in a position to show that he is not just an effective gambler in retail but that he might even have some sort of resemblance to a decent businessman. It’s over to you Mike Ashley. Can you deliver or do you want to remain a relegation battling loser?