As the chase hots up for a new Newcastle manager, one of the key questions is how much will the transfer budget be? There are two questions which may give us a clue, firstly what is available, more importantly, what can the new man expect? 

Transfer speculation of course takes two dimensions. The first is what do we need. The second is who do, or who can we keep. 

This time last year, supporters, including bloggers were already identifying what were the weak parts of the team. The pre-Christmas run of games in 2014 highlighted why there should be 3 keepers in a squad. The unfortunate Jack Alnwick, with no prior Premier League experience, conceded 10 goals in 4 league starts, added to 5 in 2 cup starts. 

This time around, Darlow will effectively start his NUFC career but there are question marks over retention of both Krul and Elliott. Young England international shows immense promise, but is that enough? 

Again, last season, supporters highlighted the lack of depth in defence. Dummett provided some flexibility but with Coloccini in his more advanced years, Williamson’s quality for the Premier League hotly debated and Steve Taylor’s style making him prone to injury, the addition of Lascelles is unlikely to be sufficient, particularly with the need for experience. Santon’s departure, followed by Ryan Taylor’s release, similarly points to a need to reinforce on the defensive flanks. 

Whilst there are plenty of midfield bodies, particularly defensively, the Creative spark has been missing for 18 months since Cabaye returned to France. If Cabella was to be his replacement, then he appears to have a wider role. 

Last year, Shola and Remy were effectively replaced with Ferreyra and Riviere. Neither performed, the latter making token appearances. Cisse’s recovery from injury proved slow, despite his effectiveness when on the pitch. Clearly there is a need to strengthen up front too. 

No doubt the club will be looking from different perspectives as to what can be afforded. Some key factors to take into account are the Financial Fair Play, wage bill and how amortisation will affect profit. In terms of cash available, the surplus from last season and this will mean that around £50m is in the kitty, before sales. 

The wage bill naturally decreases, as mentioned, players released such as Jonas and Ryan Taylor can be added to Santon and Mbiwa and other less experienced players. It remains to be seen in Marveaux returns. In theory, these should allow the club to sign new players on similar rates of pay. That having been said, quality up front comes at a price but this should be absorbable, given an abnormally high wage bill last year. 

As far as amortisation is concerned, departing players were signed on relatively low fees, given the current environment of increasing TV revenues. Riviere at £6m proved to be too cheap for the quality needed at Premier League level. Danny Ings, being out of contract, would cost around that figure, the mature N’Doye from Hull considerably less but anyone else with proven quality significantly more. 

Expenditure in the region of that £50m figure would push up allowances for amortisation but not above the limits set within FFP. In any event, there were expenses incurred last year that have not been fully explained. Presumably this may be non- recurring, therefore, amortisation of 25% of the £50m figure, equal to £12.5m assuming 4 year contracts, can be absorbed. 

Naturally, we can expect further sales, some being high profile players who strive for a more ambitious environment, others from players deemed surplus to requirements. In the former category, it might be expected that those such as Janmaat, Krul and Sissoko would generate sufficient funds for a like for like replacement. Only Cisse up front, aged 30 and towards the end of his contract, would require significant extra investment. 

Elsewhere in the squad we have players like Tiote, who rarely figured last time around. No doubt de Jong will be heralded as “like a new signing” after his injury and illness plagued first season. If a new playmaker can be found, do we really need Tiote, Colback, Anita in a defensive midfield role, particularly if a new coach adopts a more progressive style? Abeid is an interesting prospect but can he be expected to stay after being sidelined? Do we really need Gouffran? Can we find a buyer for Obertan? 

In reality, the funds that should be available for investment should be closer to £60m, more if the club were to consider allowable FFP losses. Of course, it should be remembered that TV revenues are set to rise even higher in 2016, so any accounting losses can be considered as an investment. 

Given that scenario, the budget could rise beyond £100m if Ashley were prepared to pump more money into the club or take out loans, plus what his retail company should be paying in advertising. 

That brings us to the other reality, that of Mike Ashley. We still have to see what he meant in his only interview. One of the keys is what he meant by “continue” his “investment”. That could mean that he will not repay himself his £18m or £111m loans. It may mean he will not cash in on his £25m transfer surplus. Alternatively, his current investment policy of the club “wiping its own nose” may continue. 

Hopefully, a potential new manager will find out what assurances can be given this week. Even more hopefully, perhaps we can expect any assurances given to be honoured, after all, there is a track record dating back to the Keegan spell, now well documented by the tribunal. 

Even if there is the intention to honour any commitment, can we trust Lee Charnley to kick into action, after all, we are still waiting for the Fans’ Forum meeting that was to be brought forward. 

The club will be making a statement this week, whether it is written or a statement of intent by either the non-appointment of a manager or even a nonentity of a manager. As we all know, actions speak louder than words.