After two signings in as many days, you’d think the mood amongst Newcastle United fans would be one of optimism.

Add to that the come-from-behind last gasp draw against Man Utd last night and there should surely be a renewed sense of belief among the locals on Tyneside.

But this is Newcastle United.

After confirming the signing of Bordeaux midfielder Henri Saivet, the reaction from fans on social media was one of pessimism, given that many couldn’t put a finger on neither his best position nor nationality.

Sentences such as “not another Frenchman” and “never heard of him” were commonplace but in actual fact, Saivet is a Senegalese international and has been one of Bordeaux’s stand-out performers in recent seasons.

He is more similar in playing style to Georginio Wijnaldum than Cheick Tiote, preferring to take the ball and feed the strikers rather than break up play. He has plenty of energy and a good engine, just the type of characteristics that Steve McClaren fancied for his Premier League relegation battle.

With fellow Frenchman Florian Thauvin a target for the boo boys in recent weeks, Saivet is certainly made of stronger stuff, not afraid to take a knock for his team.

Even if the reaction to signing another of Ligue 1’s talents was harsh, it was perhaps not unexpected. Saivet is certainly another example of Mike Ashley’s “buy low, sell high” transfer policy and the five-and-a-half year contract gives the 25-year-old plenty of time to grow into the full potential that saw him make his Bordeaux debut aged just 17.

That type of transfer is always going to polarise the locals but when Jonjo Shelvey secured his move from fellow relegation battlers Swansea City, there was yet more doubters.

This one confused me, with the price tag of the former Liverpool midfielder seeming to be the biggest gripe amongst fans.

£12m for a 23-year-old England international is excellent business in the current climate – one which has just seen Bournemouth pay £8m for a centre forward that couldn’t get a kick at Norwich City.

An area where Newcastle have struggled massively this season is transitioning from the defence into midfield. The back four – the two centre-backs especially – haven’t had an outlet in midfield to pass to and launch attacks, instead opting to go direct towards Aleksandar Mitrovic or down the flanks.

Back in 2012, Yohan Cabaye performed that role magnificently but since his departure, Newcastle haven’t had a player of similar ilk.

That’s where the signing of Shelvey makes sense – the strengths of his game are coming to collect the ball from deep and dictating play and when his teammates get used to his range of passing, Newcastle could finally improve their goal tally.

Add into the mix that the Magpies have plucked one of their relegation rivals’ best players and it is hard to believe that fans are already writing the former Charlton man off.

Shelvey also seems to be a McClaren-inspired transfer, meaning he has finally worked out what his team needs and gone and got it himself, without relying on Graham Carr finding another gem from the continent.

With a new-look midfield and fresh off the back of scoring three at home to a side with a decent defensive record, hopes have to be high for the rest of the season. Now is not a time for writing off new signings before they’ve kicked a ball for our club, no matter how many turkeys we’ve watched over the last three years.


***Henri Saivet and Jonjo Shelvey have both been officially given squad numbers for the season. Shelvey will wear the number 12 jersey, while Saivet will take the number 23 shirt previously worn by Shola Ameobi.