Mischa Richards: Newcastle stole Burnley’s heart by signing Chris Wood

On the surface, it seemed like a transfer: Newcastle needed a striker, Chris Wood had a release clause of £25m, and Burnley had an obligation to sell.

However, the truth of this deal is much deeper and broader. This is much more than just a transfer. This is something that could dramatically change the future of two clubs. In the case of Burnley, this can have an impact on the people they employ and the city in which they reside.

People wondered why Newcastle had paid so much money for a striker, who had become the most expensive player aged 30 or over in Premier League history, and whose contract would have expired 18 months ago. I certainly didn’t – it’s a good signature and in so many ways it’s perfect for them.

Newcastle showed a huge sign of intent by pressing Burnley striker Chris Wood for £25m

Wood's goals have been crucial to Clarett's remaining Premier League over the years

Wood’s goals have been crucial to Clarett’s remaining Premier League over the years

In the short term, he will not need to adapt to the demands of the Premier League. He wouldn’t be the first striker that Newcastle fans wanted to sign under the supervision of their new owners, but if the worst happened and they went down, he would be the perfect man to lead them out of the tournament.

But I don’t see a roadshow on Newcastle’s radar next year.

why? They have brought in one of the nine best performing strikers in the Premier League over the past four years. Don’t take my word for it – just look at the numbers.

From 2017 to 2018 until the end of last season, the only players with double goals in each campaign were Mohamed Salah, Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy, Sadio Mane, Raheem Sterling, Alexandre Lacazette, Son Heung-min, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang … and Chris Wood.

Only nine players have double scored in four consecutive campaigns - one is Wood

Only nine players have double scored in four consecutive campaigns – one is Wood

When you consider he’s the only player in that group who hasn’t featured in the Champions League, that gives his consistency a bit more polish. He scored 49 goals in 144 Premier League games for Burnley and made seven more. It’s a big reason why the Sean Dyche team have established themselves in the first division.

So Newcastle have improved their team with high quality, but most importantly they have significantly undercut one of their rivals. I have no doubt that Daichi would be angry about what happened, in the same way that Arsene Wenger was in the late 2000s and early 2000s.

At the time, Manchester City bought four players from Arsenal in quick succession – Kolo Toure, Emmanuel Adebayor, Gael Clichy and Samir Nasri – and also tried to sign Robin van Persie. When you get stronger at the expense of the team you want to outrun, your task becomes much easier.

Likewise, I know what it is like when an important player is removed from your team. City struggled in the season after we won the title when Nigel de Jong and Mario Balotelli joined AC Milan. When the big characters leave, you can’t fail to see the gaps left.

Sean Daichi is right to be pissed off about Clarett allowing their main striker to beat their opponents

Sean Daichi is right to be pissed off about Clarett allowing their main striker to beat their opponents

I can only imagine what it would be like in a Burnley dressing room. They will be so frustrated to see their focal point wonder what opportunity they had. Daiki, who has done such a great job, will feel exactly the same. Fans will be similarly desperate.

It makes me wonder what the mood will be like at Turf Moor for the remainder of the season. I mean this in the best possible way, but it’s an intimidating place to play. Anything can happen to you if Burnley gets his tail back.

Like those days when Stoke City were in the Premier League, you knew what was in your way – a straightforward approach that would keep you cornered and fighting to get to the second balls – but stopping that was always easier said than done.

Burnley players are like machines, programmed to do exactly what Daiichi asks. They are big, strong, aggressive and were good at providing a focal point for the local community but you wonder what would happen if they couldn’t escape from their current location.

Morale in Burnley's dressing room is likely to be low after Wood's loss to Newcastle

Morale in Burnley’s dressing room is likely to be low after Wood’s loss to Newcastle

Mortgages and futures for players are at stake below - that's more than just a diversion

Mortgages and futures for players are at stake below – that’s more than just a diversion

The talk Kevin MacDonald gave to Aston Villa never left me: in the year we were holding off, he talked about the widespread impact. Not on the players but on the wider club. People who have mortgages to pay and know their jobs will be under threat if we go down.

There will certainly be anxiety at Burnley now, as there is no guarantee that they will return directly to the Premier League. In the meantime, Newcastle will feel the momentum with them and can break out of the relegation zone this afternoon with a win over Watford.

Football has a uncanny way of presenting ups and downs, and looking at the matches for both clubs, I caught my eye on the final day of the season when they face Newcastle Burnley. Imagine if Wood scored the goal that keeps his new team ahead and leads to the downfall of his old team.

This is why this is so much more than just a transfer.

man of the week in micha

I predicted on this New Year’s Day page that Jarrod Bowen was a dark horse to make up the England squad at the World Cup, and I’m more confident he’ll get recognition from Gareth Southgate ahead of Qatar by the week.

West Ham star Jarrod Bowen has a real claim to calling England up later in 2022

West Ham star Jarrod Bowen has a real claim to calling England up later in 2022

Bowen goes from strength to strength, and his double against Norwich means he’s scored eight goals and eight assists this season.

He didn’t necessarily have the credit he deserved for his impact on West Ham’s progress but his importance to the team is huge. There is more to come.

A union of nations will be a struggle of styles

The weekend game takes place at lunchtime on Saturday and I’m intrigued to see how it will unfold.

We know how Manchester City and Chelsea will deal with this confrontation at the Etihad Stadium; City will dominate possession, Chelsea will try to create problems on the counter-attack.

Chelsea and Manchester City meet on Saturday in an exciting battle between the first and second places

Chelsea and Manchester City meet on Saturday in an exciting battle between the first and second places

Every time I doubt Chelsea, they come back with a convincing answer and once again we saw the depth of their squad at Tottenham on Wednesday, when they qualified for the Carabao Cup final.

City were great in the reverse game but they have to be just as good now.

I love watching Cameroon in the Africa Cup of Nations

The Premier League is of course missing a lot of stars playing in the Africa Cup of Nations at the moment, and I was trying to capture as much excitement as possible.

Hosts Cameroon got off to a very good start with two wins out of two and showed they are a team that can score goals, which have been by and large the highlight of the tournament so far.

I’m really looking forward to watching more of the tournament develop.

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