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Newcastle United - Transfer Review

Friday 2nd September 2011
Transfer deadline day is becoming something of a poisoned chalice to Newcastle United fans. A brief look back at the clubs recent history tells you as much. During the summer of 2008, Newcastle were on a high after the return of former player, manager, and fan icon, Kevin Keegan. After joining in January, he galvanised the side, taking them from a relegation battle into a comfortable 12th place finish. With a positive start to the season, including a point away to Keegan's old enemy Manchester Utd, things were finally looking up for the club as deadline day loomed, despite talk of conflict between manager and board persistently circulating. However, as deadline day came to a close, with the arrival of Xisco and Nacho Gonzalez from Spain, it was rumours of King Kev's resignation which instead circulated the Internet, radio, TV and printing press. Now we're all aware how this travesty ended – fans were lied to as part of Mike Ashley, Derek Llambias' ongoing PR, a fact which was admitted in court by Llambias, presumably through an interpreter due to his lack of communication skills.

Now don't get me wrong, this isn't a tirade of abuse aimed in the direction of the so-called cockney mafia. I like to consider myself an intelligent person, and so I see the rationale behind signing quality young players (prepare for more controversial claims in this piece). People are probably now screaming at their screens about the state of Arsenal and claim it hasn't worked for them, but there are some key points to be argued. For starters, Arsenal have, until the past 5 years, been considered a constant title contender, a Champions League regular, and a member of the Premier League's elite. They have also seen footballing legends such as Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira and Dennis Bergkamp, to name just a few, play for their club in their prime, so to say it hasn't worked for Arsenal and Arsene Wenger is to do a dis-service to the Frenchman. Most Newcastle fans haven't lived long enough to recall a trophy of any significance at St. James' Park (no disrespect to Championship or Intertoto Cup), and for the majority of Newcastle fans, the only legend to have performed at his peak in the famous black and white in their lifetime is Alan Shearer.

Now, looking at the current Newcastle squad, you would say it's reasonably good – no more so – but still, to steal a term from a former Magpie, it's #decent.  We've sold Routledge for a profit – which is no easy feat, and we've wiped at least 200k a week from our wage bill. Incoming, we've got a current French international for 5 million, replacing chicken-enthusiast and former captain Kevin Nolan in the heart of the midfield. Now comes controversial claim number 2 – this was good business by Newcastle. Kevin Nolan was not worth 50-60k a week, and he didn't have the legs for 4 years in the top flight. His spirit and leadership were there for all to see, but after 2 and a half years alongside him, I would expect some of these all important qualities had rubbed off onto others. Joey ‘Twitter' Barton has also departed for a top 4 club... a European club... a top 10 club... a relegation scrap. He'll be joined by fellow hot-head Neil Warnock, fellow City reject Shaun Wright-Phillips, and fellow ex-Newcastle sick-note Kieron Dyer among others for the bumpiest of bumpy rides (think driving a G-Whizz off road), while fellow tweeter Jose Enrique finally left Newcastle to link up with Gateshead-born Andy Carroll down on Merseyside, who is surely up for an Oscar for his role in Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

Now that deadline day has passed with a new left back in place, another keeper, and no striker, the real test for Alan Pardew and his team begins. First up is Joey Barton's QPR debut, assuming he gets off his phone long enough, and it's live on Sky Sports no less. I'd keep an eye out for David Craig at this one, given his apparent close relationship with Joey Barton, the two will be able to catch up having not seen each other since David Craig personally delivered JB to QPR via the East Coast service. With Demba Ba hopefully back to full fitness, Leon Best hungry to add to his tally, and Shola under some pressure to perform, Newcastle's strikers may yet do their bosses a favour, but the fans won't forget the promises of 35 million and imminent arrivals.

Returning to my opening point, Mike and Derek have made numerous mistakes during their time in charge of Newcastle United, and none more so than their running of the club during the Keegan era. They have long since admitted this. Whether or not they've learnt any lessons from this is dubious, though. January 31st 2011, Andy Carroll is sold, and we are told that a bid for Charles N'Zogbia is rejected. The line from David Craig reads “we didn't want Andy to leave” followed quickly by “we tried to sign a replacement but it was too late”. Jump in your DeLorean, set the date to 31st August 2011 and hit 88mph, and the line from David Craig reads “we tried to sign Ruiz, but we couldn't agree terms”. This is not a coincidence. Neither is it a coincidence that the club have already been caught out using PR stunts to manipulate fans, managers and players alike. To quote Keegan, “they say one thing, they mean another”. The bids are real, but their intentions are not. But, determination not to see this article end in the same dour fashion as the transfer window means I will highlight some positives for the club.

1. This is our best start to a Premier League season since the days of Sir Bobby.

2. We have replaced quality with quality, if not quantity.

3. We have a number of young prospects with an opportunity to make a statement (Sameobi, Vuckic, etc.)

4. The imminent return of playmaker Hatem Ben Arfa should see an improvement in the final third, and will be like a new signing for the club.

5. We didn't sign Bendtner and his pink boots.
Greg Larmouth

Total articles: 9

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