STEVE Harper has urged Newcastle United fans to stick with the team next season as he admitted everybody’s resilience will be tested back in the Premier League.
Harper has never experienced a better team spirit than the one which grew out of adversity of relegation to the Championship and the turmoil that followed, and he feels this will once again be United’s biggest strength back in the top flight. But Newcastle’s longest serving player knows the unity and togetherness will be strained if results are poor and he has asked the supporters not to add to the pressure by turning against the team.
“I have never known a dressing room which has been so good before and it was fantastic to be a part of that last season,” said Harper. “The spirit was tremendous
and that played a huge part in allowing us to get back into the Premier League at the first time of asking.
“We get on well, on and off the pitch as a group, and it was a special thing to be a part of. I’ve been around a long time and it really was. It was the best time I’ve had as a Newcastle player in that respect.
“We are going to need that mental strength and togetherness more than ever next season.
“We are going to lose a lot more often than we did last season and that is going to put everything and everyone to the test. But I still feel the team spirit and the togetherness we have will stand us in good stead.
“If the supporters continue to get behind us and help us through the difficult times, I think we will be okay.” Harper (pictured above) has made no secret of his desire to see the club sign new players before the start of the season, but he also appreciates the financial restraints in place caused by a global recession and United’s previous extravagance in the transfer market.
Nevertheless, with manager Chris Hughton also arguing the squad needs to be strengthened The Journal understands the board are prepared to fund the arrival of new players.
Although the majority of these will be loan signings and free transfers, with small transfer fees paid for others, there are a number of players at Premier League clubs who will be allowed to leave for free this summer, as everyone looks to cut costs.
Hughton is still waiting to make his first breakthrough in the transfer market, although he never expected much to happen until the end of this month given the fact the vast majority of players and managers are on holiday or at the World Cup. Bolton Wanderers centre-back Andy O’Brien is eager to rejoin the Magpies but Hughton is yet to make a firm offer for the 30-year-old.
Meanwhile, Shota Arveladze expects a visit from United target Kris Boyd this week, but the Kayserispor boss will not get involved in a Turkish auction for the player.
Bursaspor and Ankaragücü are also interested in Boyd, who has been reportedly offered a two-year deal worth £50,000 per week from the former Rangers and Georgia striker.
Arveladze is looking forward to the 26-year-old striker – out of contract at Rangers this summer – and his representative, Mark Donaghy, flying to Turkey this week for talks but will insist on exclusivity. “I said that if he comes to speak to other teams then my offer is out,” said Arveladze.