If you read or listen to local media, it seems to be a fait accompli that Ross Stewart is leaving the club and that the club will accept £10m. When I was waiting to go on BBC Radio Newcastle’s phone in on Tuesday night, Colin White told me that it was fairly nailed on too.
This is a fairly depressing reality to be faced with. Why would you sell your main striker, who has just scored on his return from injury? In insurance terms, I’d be wanting a like-for-like replacement value. Stewart’s goal ratio is outstanding. We’ve really missed him while he’s been out. How much would it be to replicate that scoring performance?
Also, as far as team development goes, it makes absolutely no sense. Stewart is integral to the team, knows his teammates and the team plays to his strength. If we are serious as to team development, we need to keep Stewart: from both a financial and team-building perspective.
Any replacement would need time to bed in. Again, disrupting team development.
We’ve been here before. Josh Maja was sold during the January 2019 transfer window. He was top scorer in Jack Ross’s then high-flying League One team.
When he was sold to Bordeaux, Sunderland flagged. The team finished fifth and failed in the play-off final against Charlton. Maja’s career similarly stalled, being loaned out to Fulham and Stoke City. Though he did score 16 goals for Bordeaux in 58 appearances. The same return he did for Sunderland with only 41 appearances.
Despite his mid-season sale, he remained top scorer for the side that season.
The comparison with Maja is also valid that it would a case of two steps forward, one step backward. We also have the message it sends out to other players looking to come here if we sell our best players.
We need to keep Ross Stewart no matter what, and the club needs to spell out its stance loud and clear.
Let’s keep him here so he gets regular football, rather than warming the bench of some so-called ‘better’ Championship or struggling Premier League team.
It really does seem to be the season to stop reading the sports pages. Stories to be dismissed as ‘click-bait’ include: “Stewart to Middlesbrough”; “Amad to be recalled by Man Utd.”
It’s all speculation, and I guess we’ll have to ride it through and see where we are in February. But we need strong hearts and resolve if this club is serious about the development it claims to be.