Newcastle United favourite Shay Given believes Rafa Benitez's fears over the size of his squad have been proven right and has urged whoever is running the club in January to support him in the transfer market.
The Magpies are in the midst of a club takeover with Amanda Staveley's PCP Capital Partners still locked in talks with current owner Mike Ashley, who is holding out for a deal worth £350m ($467m). With no agreement in sight yet, Ashley could remain in charge of the club's purse strings when the transfer window opens in January, a difficult scenario for Benitez who was frustrated in his attempts to adequately strengthen his squad in the summer following the club's return to the top flight of English football.
Adding to the sense of apprehension around the city, Newcastle now find themselves on a disastrous run of form, having won just one of their last 11 Premier League games, falling to a late winner at home to Leicester City on Saturday (9 December). Speaking to IBTimes UK, Given now fears Benitez's concerns from the summer are now being realised.
"He [Rafa] made noises in the summer that he wanted more money to invest in the team, that didn't come," Given said, speaking at the opening of the new DW Sports store at Newcastle's Metrocentre.
"Rafa is a hugely experienced manager, he knows the Premier League of course, he knows it is a long season and of course he knows it is a long time until January when you haven't got your targets in. At the minute it is one win in 11 games, so it is a bit of a difficult period, they are starting to look over their shoulder a little bit."
With the topic of the club takeover dominating the agenda in Newcastle, Benitez has done his best to shield the uncertainty surrounding the deal from his players and keep them focused on matters on the pitch. But despite those efforts, Given, who played for the club in similar circumstances when Ashley's initial takeover in 2007 cast a shadow over footballing matters, says that uncertainty will have inevitably been transmitted to the dressing room.
"People would say it shouldn't affect the players, but they are human beings as well, they will be talking about it, wondering if and when it is going to happen, it's just human nature. Uncertainty is probably the right word, for everyone connected at Newcastle, the manager, the players, the fans, they would sooner have it all done. There is just too much speculation for my liking."
With the club now just two points off the relegation zone, the need for reinforcements during the winter window is growing more urgent by the day. But with the takeover deal still not complete, the prospect of new funds arriving in time for January remains uncertain, a situation that could leave the club vulnerable to another relegation scrap.
Given continued: "Looking from the outside in, you would imagine these things do not happen overnight. But it is only a matter of weeks now until the window opens, so what is the target if Mike Ashley stays? Is it going to be lesser players [the club pursue], is he even going to dip his hand into his pocket, or is he not putting any more money in full stop and we can't buy anyone in January? Or it could be that the new people get the deal done in time. But it is hard to talk about it, but the sooner it all gets tied up the better."
Newcastle have scored 16 times in their 16 league matches this season with Dwight Gayle their leading scorer with three goals to his name. Given believes bringing in another striker may be a priority heading into the mid-season window but admits there are serious concerns running through the spine of the team. And with clubs so reluctant to part ways with their players in winter, the former Republic of Ireland international fears the club could have problems doing deals regardless of who is footing the bill.
"You would probably look at the whole team. We haven't scored enough goals this season and we have conceded too many goals, most managers would say the spine of the team has a problem so they will probably have to look at that.
"They need to score more goals. The other problem is how much money Rafa will have in January. A lot of clubs don't want to sell in January, most want to wait and do their business in the summer. In a sense, it doesn't matter who is in charge, they might not get the targets that Rafa wants in January.
"It's going to be difficult, the focus needs to be on the players there in the next few weeks because there are so many games coming up, they have to focus on the games. It is easier said than done but they have to try and get the results in the next few weeks."
Shay Given was in Newcastle for the opening of the new DW Sports store in Gateshead's Metrocentre in Newcastle. DW Sports is part of the DW Fitness First Group and is one of the biggest operators of retail stores and gyms across the UK.