Gary Neville provides verdict on PIF’s £210m approach since Newcastle United takeover

Gary Neville has been impressed by Newcastle United’s approach in the transfer market.

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Former Manchester United right-back Gary Neville has praised Newcastle United’s owners for adopting a “sensible” approach in the transfer market.

Following the completion of the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia-led takeover a year ago, the Magpies continue to be linked with some of the biggest names in football.

But as the two previous transfer windows have proven, United have steered clear of signing what Neville describes as “star players that are probably a little bit over the hill”.

Head coach Eddie Howe has done his due diligence on every player recruited, not his on their footballing ability but their personalities too.

In January, Kieran Trippier, Chris Wood, Bruno Guimaraes, Dan Burn and Matt Targett arrived in the middle of a relegation battle.

Then, in the summer, after Premier League safety was sealed, Nick Pope, Sven Botman, Alexander Isak and Loris Karius joined the journey.

Those players have helped form a close-knit dressing room, one that currently has Newcastle 6th in the league table after the opening nine games.

‘Pretty good and sensible’ says Neville

“Newcastle have improved enormously,” Neville told his Sky Sports podcast. “Eddie Howe is doing a good job and the type of players they have signed are the right types to get them on that next level.

“They have not gone for that ridiculous approach that sometimes we have seen in the past where you go for these star players that are probably a little bit over the hill and, all of a sudden, it just looks a little bit messy and it looks like it’s an owner in a sweet shop in some ways.

“It’s been quite well thought out. The football project that has been put in place has been pretty good and sensible.”

Neville recalled his visits to St James’ Park during the Kevin Keegan and Sir Bobby Robson era - but those “unbelievable memories” were a distant memory when Mike Ashley became owner in 2007. But with Newcastle now under new ownership, the 47-year-old believes the fans have got their club back.

Former Manchester United defender and Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)Former Manchester United defender and Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)
Former Manchester United defender and Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

‘The fans have got their Newcastle back’

He added: “We were going up there for 12 years and I’m not going to say it was heartbreaking, but it was rancid up there, wasn’t it? It was terrible for the fans. The atmosphere was shocking between the manager at times, the players, the owner. It just felt like a toxic environment.

“I have unbelievable memories of playing up at St James’ Park in some of the greatest atmospheres that I have played football matches in this country and some of the best football matches I have played in as well. Important ones around the mid-90s when they had Kevin Keegan as the manager.

“Even when Bobby Robson was there, the atmosphere was fantastic, but that was gone for so long under Mike Ashley’s ownership.

“Then, obviously, the Saudi Arabians came in and all the Newcastle fans wanted was Ashley out and a new start and hope. So the massive positive of the change of ownership is the fact that these fans are now going to games with hope.

“They have got their Newcastle back in the sense of the spirit in the club, the team playing in the spirit of the shirt that they want.”