Takeover, transfers and tactics: Newcastle United Q&A with Liam Kennedy

Our Newcastle United writer Liam Kennedy looks over the key issues facing Newcastle United, with takeover talk, the transfer window failure and tactics on the agenda.

As ever with Newcastle United, so little is certain and so much remains up in the air. The one sad constant is that Mike Ashley remains owner and the Magpies continue to tread water and make up the numbers in the Premier League.

So, as the course is set towards another weekend of top flight football, here’s the key issues discussed.

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Will Steve Bruce walk away after from the NUFC job his transfer window disappointments?

The simple answer to this is no.

I know Bruce has a history of it, but managers rarely walk away from pay packets, and even rarer from jobs they’ve wanted for years. He’s here now, and it will take something monumental for him to go. While the transfer disappointment jarred, it was not enough to force his hand.

Nor has the poor start to the season sparked doubt in Bruce from above.

While many hope for a change in this department soon, I’d say the status quo is more likely in the medium term, even after the club’s explosive statement.

After three losses and a draw, is Bruce getting the best out of his Newcastle players?

It really is difficult to make a case to say he is. Sean Longstaff has been a rare surprise in recent games and Callum Wilson has looked as potent as ever. Freddie Woodman has been ticking along OK, too. The rest? Not so much.

Allan Saint-Maximin is a danger but has come in and out of games, mostly due to his positioning - and that’s been the story for many, too many square pegs in round holes.

The two wing-backs are being targeted by every side United play - and while both aren’t the best defenders, the system does little to help them out either.

Is it time for a change to the 5-3-2 system?

Yes. At present we are playing a team with five named defenders, yet look like conceding more goals than we ever have under Bruce.

Bruce and Graeme Jones used the last international break of 2020/21 to switch things up, something similar is needed now.

Steve Bruce, Manager of Newcastle United gives instructions during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Newcastle United at Villa Park on August 21, 2021 in Birmingham, England.

Where does the protracted takeover lie at present?

It’s up in the air. Silence has been replaced snippets of information lately, but nothing worth writing and nothing worth getting excited over.

The rumour-mill is in full flow on social media and I’d advise fans to take most, if not all of it, with a hefty pinch of salt.

All eyes remain on the end of this month, when a Competition Appeal Tribunal hearing will sit to decide whether the body has the jurisdiction to oversee the complaint by St James Holdings Limited. An appeal is likely to follow though, whoever wins - and that could be lengthy. As long as 12 months, according to legal sources.

The arbitration will likely happen in 2022 after a stalemate in evidence submissions.

So, we wait. As we always do.

And while noises out of the buyer side have been muted in recent weeks, sources close to the Reubens, whose part of the deal is notably headed up by Jamie Reuben, have made it known in the last few days they remain supremely confident they will get the deal done for NUFC. More salt? Maybe.