Nick Hammond: Helping Newcastle navigate the January transfer window

Nick Hammond (left) helped with five January signings including Bruno Guimarães (right)

Nick Hammond (left) helped with five January signings including Bruno Guimarães (right)

NICK HAMMOND has explained his role as a January transfer advisor for Newcastle United and said it could be the hardest window that the club’s new ownership face.

The former Reading, West Brom and Celtic Technical Director was drafted in by Newcastle’s new owners in December to help them navigate the crucial January window. On his watch the club brought in four new signings - Kieran Trippier, Chris Wood, Bruno Guimarães and Dan Burn - as well as Matt Targett on loan.

The deals look to have been a big success, with Newcastle having taken 16 points from a possible 24 points since the close of the window, which has lifted them from 18th in the Premier League table to 14th.

Hammond was first approached by the Magpies in November. A consortium consisting of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (80% majority owners), RB Sports & Media (10%) and PCP Capital Partners (10%) had bought the club from Mike Ashley in October, but lacked previous experience in football.

“Newcastle came (to me) a couple of weeks before the beginning of December,” Hammond, 54, told TGG’s Scouting and Recruitment Webinar last week. “To me, it was a really interesting and quite exciting opportunity to come and work with the new owners, of which there are three groups; with Eddie Howe, who I knew from being in the game for a long time; and Steve Nickson, an extremely good, experienced Head of Recruitment.

“This was a second time I’d provided a consultancy service for a team through a window. The first time I did was with Celtic through the summer 2019 window (which led to him being appointed as their Technical Director).

“Newcastle have a long-term plan, for sure, but they had a short-term problem when we were going into the January window. Quite clearly they wanted to appoint a new CEO, a new Sporting Director and build the club out from there, but in the short term they were approaching the January window and looking for someone who had a degree of experience navigating trough the complexities of any transfer window, let alone a January window.

“My job, really, was to advise the owners in relation to the players, the due diligence around the players and the financial aspects of the deals they were trying to complete.

“I said to the guys at the start, this will be the hardest transfer window you’ll probably ever have, because you are literally a group of people coming together in a very short space of time and having to hit the ground running.

“Fortunately there’s a very experienced Head Coach there, a very clear thinking guy, very precise in terms of what he wants and what he wanted, which is critical for a Head Coach - that clarity that comes from them is massively important. Fortunately Eddie Howe gave that to the people dealing with the transfer window at Newcastle.”

Hammond has two decades of experience as a Technical Director, which began at Reading, where he had previously been their Academy Manager. The role at Newcastle was different to the one he would traditionally do.

“My role (at Newcastle) was a little bit more in the background than I would be as a normal Sporting Director,” Hammond told the Scouting and Recruitment Webinar. “As a Sporting Director over my career I would lead the discussions, lead the negotiations with potential signings.

“This role was sort of a step removed from that, doing the checks and balances in the background, having an opinion on the players who had already been identified by Steve Nickson and his team, having taken a good steer from Eddie Howe, the new Head Coach, who had to make very quick decisions in terms of where he saw his squad.”

The Magpies are in the process of putting a more long-term structure and strategy in place. Dan Ashworth, who resigned as Brighton’s Technical Director last month, is expected to take up the same role at St James’ Park, although he is having to serve a long period of notice with the South Coast club. The club are also in the process of appointing a new CEO to replace Lee Charnley, who left following the takeover.

Hammond said he would look back fondly on his two-month stint with the club.

"It was a fascinating experience, I thoroughly enjoyed it, but very challenging time for them (the owners)," he said. "It was interesting in as much as here you’ve got a group of people who all want to achieve the same thing but they’re new, they’re almost thrown together.

"I don’t mean that in a haphazard way, but new group of owners; new Head Coach; Steve (Nickson), who’s been in the building for a long time, and all of a sudden in a very short space of time you’ve got to come together and make some decisions to try and strengthen the team for what is the short term ambition of staying in the Premier League."

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