Newcastle’s efforts to grant Steve McClaren extra authority by adding him to the board of directors, letting him pick his coaching staff and allowing him greater involvement in transfer policy should be applauded given how powerless many of his predecessors have appeared.
However, if his input extends to advising them to sell Papiss Cisse to raise funds for new signings then they might yet regret this chance of approach.
Cisse has been that most unusual of things, a consistent Newcastle performer in a season beset by upheaval, negativity and accusations of players phoning it in.
Though the Senegalese striker let himself down by engaging in a “spit spat” with Jonny Evans at the start of March, resulting in a seven-match suspension, it was no coincidence that they were defeated in every game that he missed compared to two of the six before or one of the three after.
In total, the Magpies lost 27% of the fixtures that he was selected for from the off in 2014/15 compared to 56% when he was either on the bench, injured or banned, and he scored 11 times in his 11 starts.
Were it not for his form from late September to early December, firing braces past Hull, Swansea and Chelsea as Newcastle soared from the drop zone to the top half, Alan Pardew may have left sooner and their springtime slump in Cisse’s absence under John Carver could have been far costlier.
It wasn’t just last term that the 30-year-old was sharp either. Across the entirety of his three-and-a-half years at St James’ Park – when the club’s average league finish has been 12th (a figure inflated by the fifth in 2011/12 that he only got to see the second half of) – his digits are 41 goals in 86 starts.
That’s right, even with his 2012/13 and 2013/14 tallies not being quite as impressive as his first or latest offerings, he delivers marginally shy of a goal every two starts for a struggling side.
If Cisse goes, there is no proven scorer in place to ensure that he isn’t missed. Ayoze Perez was next best last season with a decent seven Premier League strikes in 25 starts. Neither of the two players besides Cisse to have bettered that total since his arrival – Demba Ba and Loic Remy – are still there.
Yes, there are plans to recruit new forwards, with Bas Dost and Charlie Austin widely discussed, but they should be partners or alternatives to the existing number nine, not replacements, as there are valid question marks against both.
Dost’s spells at Heracles, Heerenveen and Wolfsburg suggests that he takes a campaign to settle (two in Wolfsburg’s case) anywhere, with his first-year league return averaging out at eight in divisions that serve up more goals than the Premier League.
Hurling every egg in the Austin basket on the strength of one hot post-promotion season isn’t wise either when you consider the all too recent cooling-off examples of Danny Graham (from 12 down to 3), Grant Holt (15 to 8), DJ Campbell (13 to 1) and several others.
Cisse wants to stay, vowing that “when I go back to Newcastle, I will try to work hard and try to make the team”, and is a hefty [100.0] to silence his doubters in the most emphatic (legal!) way possible by closing 2015/16 as Premier League top goalscorer.