Newcastle head coach Steve McClaren has insisted the club’s £83m (€109.6m) spending spree is only the start of owner Mike Ashley’s plan for future success.
Despite missing out on West Brom striker Saido Berahino on the final day of the January transfer window, the Magpies invested in the region of £29m (38.3m) in Jonjo Shelvey, Henri Saivet and Andros Townsend, as well as drafting in loan signing Seydou Doumbia.
That took Ashley’s spending since he promised to revitalise the squad at the end of last season to around £83m (109.6m), and McClaren is adamant there is more work to be done with the proven top-flight goalscorer he craved having eluded him once again.
He said: “We wanted to take this club forward, and that will only progress through investment. It’s not the end, it’s only the beginning.
“It started in the summer, it’s continued this window — I think we said it would, and now we’re thinking yeah, the squad, when you look at it, is progressing towards ultimately what we want.”
In the short term, McClaren’s only focus is to drag the club out of the Barclays Premier League relegation zone, a process which will continue at Everton tonight.
Having received the backing of the board in addressing at least some of the issues with his squad, he knows there can be no excuses.
McClaren said: “I don’t think there ever has been an excuse — I don’t think you’ve ever given me the chance of an excuse in all the games and weeks that we’ve had.
“I didn’t expect any before, and I definitely don’t expect any now.”
Meanwhile, Everton manager Roberto Martinez has backed John Stones to bounce back quickly from his first real shaky spell at the club.
The England centre-back endured a tough January by his usually high standards with a number of noticeable errors and lapses.
But Martinez has no doubts about the 21-year-old’s capabilities.
“You are talking about a player of 21 who has played over 92% of the minutes in the league, which is a phenomenal return.” he said.
“When you reach the level of John Stones you are going to get that scrutiny and John is strong enough mentally to understand that is going to be his role in professional football and representing England for the next 15-20 years.”
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