Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez was led to believe that there were funds available to strengthen his side in January with a winger and central midfielder high on his wish list.
Despite having drawn up a list of targets, the Magpies were unable to bring in any new recruits, much to the annoyance of the Spaniard, who is set to seek reassurances about the club's ambition ahead of the summer window, before he commits to seeing out the further two years of his current deal.
Despite being less than impressed, Benitez is still confident he can lead his side to a Premier League return at the first time of asking and isn’t likely to make a decision on his future before the end of the season.
Disappointing deadline day
Benitez remained keen to strengthen his squad as the deadline approached and was “confident” a return for Andros Townsend would be completed in time following days of negotiations with Crystal Palace.
Despite numerous reports that a deal was “very close” to being completed, any possibility of a return for Townsend was put to bed when he was named on the bench for Palace’s game against Bournemouth just hours before the window shut.
Missing out on Townsend was not the only setback Newcastle endured during the window with moves for Ruben-Loftus Cheek, James McCarthy and Tom Cleverley also not materialising.
Return of the Mike
It was reported in early January that Mike Ashley was once again taking an interest in transfers and planned to reinstate the old transfer policy of signing younger players with the hope of selling them on for a higher price.
The re-emergence of Mike Ashley’s hands-on approach when dealing with transfers is said to have angered Benitez - who was given “full control over football-related matters” at the start of the season.
Speaking to Sky Sports News after the 2-2 draw with QPR, Benitez revealed that it was “not his decision” to go through January without adding to his squad.
The Spaniard has made no secret of the fact he feels his squad is thin and has made a point of that in the FA Cup games against Birmingham and Oxford by handing out debuts to reserve players in order to keep senior players fit.
The Magpies boss will be hoping the returns of African Cup of Nations trio Mohamed Diame, Christian Atsu and Chancel Mbemba, as well as the return of Dwight Gayle from injury, will give the squad a much-needed lift having suffered a dip in form since the start of the year.