Graham Carr has increasingly become the focus of much debate, particularly since Rafa Benitez arrived at Newcastle United.
Despite Newcastle fans never hearing anything from him year after year, no interaction with the official Newcastle United appointed fans forum, Graham Carr is the person who is arguably most responsible for this second disastrous relegation only seven years after the last .
Mike Ashley must always take absolute blame for how the club is mismanaged but when it comes to those he employs, can you honestly say anybody has done a worse job?
I would argue even alongside John Carver and Joe Kinnear, Graham Carr must be the biggest joker of them all.
There is an awful lot wrong with Newcastle United (that hopefully Rafa is going to fix…) but if you put decent players out on the pitch then you can usually expect a certain level of performance.
Yes Mike Ashley has been chaotic in his overall transfer policy (age of players and when money has and hasn’t been made available) but within that, United should still have at least been mid-table when you compare the transfer spend with other clubs.
Put simply, the players that have been bought have not been good enough.
Graham Carr has had the biggest/final say.
With fans wanting to believe that things will get better, the club and Graham Carr have had a far easier ride than they should have. Plus sympathetic journalists have backed this up by constantly reminding us of the small number of success stories in amongst the legions of dross.
So why were this small minority of big success stories so at odds with the overwhelming number of failures?
Fans would generally accept that Yohan Cabaye, Demba Ba and Mathieu Debuchy can be ranked as Graham Carr success stories.
All three played well, to varying levels, for Newcastle and then were sold at a massive profit. Between them they cost around £10m and were sold for approximately £37m – seemingly validating (for some) Mike Ashley’s policy of buying young, getting what you can out of them, then selling at a big profit.
However, there are major reasons why these signings are also different in other ways to the general Graham Carr failures.
All three had contract issues that allowed a cheaper below market price: Demba Ba left West Ham for nothing because they were relegated and he had a clause in his contract.
Yohan Cabaye had a release clause of around £4.5m, whilst Mathieu Debuchy was allowed to leave Lille for (around £5m) less than his true value due to his long service and the fact he stayed an extra year after wanting to leave earlier.
You also can look at the player profiles, they were hardly unknowns. Demba Ba had looked good in the Premier League for West Ham already and scored goals, plus he was an international. Whilst Cabaye and Debuchy were already established French internationals who had been influential in helping unfashionable Lille to win Ligue 1.
As for ages, when they signed for Newcastle, Debuchy was 27 years of age and Cabaye & Ba both 25.
So to sum up, all three were internationals, at their peak ages, with a situation that allowed you to get them on the relative cheap.
When you compare this to the general level of poor to average players Graham Carr has landed us with, you can see why these are exceptions to the rule.
Even those who can be seen as limited successes such as Tiote, Ben Arfa and Cisse were all well known players away from Newcastle and when they were bought by NUFC were 24 years old (Tiote), just short of 24 (Ben Arfa) and 25 (Cisse). They had been around a bit and played international football, won titles in the case of the first two and in Cisse’s case set a then record number of goals by an African striker in a Bundesliga season.
When you compare the above to say last summer’s transfer activity, to try and avoid another relegation fight, Graham Carr/Newcastle brought in a 19 year old, two 20 year olds, a 22 year old and 24 year old Gini Wijnaldum, all from weaker leagues.
This almost certainly doomed Newcastle to struggle, even if we hadn’t had a clown like Steve McClaren as manager. No surprise that Wijnaldum has looked the most accomplished, when he has turned up, whilst of the others Mbemba and Mitrovic have shown some promise at times but not enough so far to justify their price tags or unrealistic expectations that were put on them.
Mitrovic has scored nowhere near enough goals at one end, whilst Newcastle with Mbemba have continued to concede more than all but three other teams this past season.
The list of truly abysmal Graham Carr transfers is horrific: names such as Cabella, Thauvin, Ferreyra, Doumbia, Gosling, Saivet, Amalfitano, Yanga-Mbiwa, Santon, Marveaux, Obertan, Gouffran, Haidara, de Jong, Riviere….
Yes not all of them have been as bad as each other but the net result is an awful lot of players brought in who have proved not good enough and a fortune wasted on them.
Players bought who were generally far too big a risk with no real experience behind them, too young and in cases like de Jong, Gosling and Marveaux – big risks taken on players with injury issues.
So many players brought in on overly long contracts, numerous ones so poor Newcastle will never get rid of them until their contracts run out – Marveaux, Obertan, Gouffran, Gosling, Riviere, Saivet…
Newcastle United fans have had the worst of everything thanks to Mike Ashley and Graham Carr – players who have been neither long or short-term solutions.
So much rides on Rafa Benitez staying at the club and with each passing day you can hardly help but fear the worst.
The idea of Graham Carr, Lee Charnley and a new yes man continuing to ruin the club under Mike Ashley’s overall mismanagement, just doesn’t bear thinking about.