So, another one bites the dust as Gini Wijnaldum becomes the latest to jump from our long-sunken ship, moving from Newcastle United to Liverpool in a £25m pound deal.
The Reds have a particular history of stealing genuine fan favourites from us: Peter Beardsley to Andy Carroll, Terry McDermott to Albert Stubbins.
While I doubt the positive spirit surrounding SJP will evaporate as a result of Gini’s departure, when some players who have genuinely given me joy in recent times depart, it is hard to not feel a tinge of sadness or even, more commonly, anger. He was brilliant at times in a pretty awful team last year, even if inconsistent he did score some brilliant goals, his third against Norwich particularly stands out.
It would be accurate to describe him as one of those genuinely exciting players that can raise a crowd to its collective feet. We need those players, it keeps it interesting. Now though he has gone, moving straight back into the Premier League with the Reds. It is one of the unavoidable truths of being a football supporter, sooner or later, our heroes all move on.
The summer after relegation is obviously a time when the departure lounge is particularly busy, and many would say rightly so.
So far we have already waved off Coloccini, Steven Taylor, Obertan, Marveaux, Cisse, and sadly, Andros Townsend, with Holland midfielder Wijnaldum the latest name to add to the list. In most cases the words ‘good riddance’ immediately sprung to mind, but with Townsend and Gini I felt genuinely disappointed, if not surprised.
They were two of the few players that actually came out of last season with some credit and the times I came out of St James Park in a good mood, it was usually because of their efforts. Additionally, neither man was at the club that long, leaving a feeling of what might have being, which probably contributed to the disappointment of losing them.
Where though, do these sales rank when compared to others from over the years. Does one Newcastle United export stand out as particularly crushing?
The obvious pick is Andy, nowadays, Andrew Cole. The star player of the team and owner of the number nine shirt, leaving for one of our biggest rivals at the time in Manchester United, certainly in terms of a dramatic departure, it’s hard to top. Especially when you throw in the memorable scene of Keegan explaining the decision to sell, to disgruntled Mags at the ground. Cole may have been in lethal goal-scoring form but as shocking as that departure was, does that mean it was most painful? I am unsure.
What also needs to be recounted is that within a matter of months Keegan went on an unprecedented spending spree which included signing Les Ferdinand, Cole’s replacement, who went on to score 29 goals in his first season. Cole’s loss may have been awful at the time, but became less significant not long after.
The sale of Andy Carroll in January 2011 has to be mentioned. Unlike Cole, Carroll wasn’t replaced reasonably quickly and the sale lingered over the club. For me this was the toughest one to take. It came completely out of the blue, with Alan Pardew insisting twice in the window that our number nine was not for sale, only for a record, deadline day bid of £35million pounds (not to mention a helicopter) put the wheels in motion for Carroll to leave Toon. In his time with us, he had being a talismanic figure and seemed to excite the crowd in a way only the special players can.
It was a year later that he was finally replaced with the signing of Papiss Cisse. You shouldn’t live in the past but I genuinely believe he (Carroll) is still missed at the club.
Nobby Solano’s departure is perhaps less obvious but one that still bothers me to this day. Sir Bobby Robson didn’t make many mistakes in his time as gaffer, but this should be considered a big one. Sold in January of 2004, his sale unquestionably contributed to the failure to finish in the top four, which itself set off a chain of events that led to Sir Bobby’s sacking. The sight of seeing Solano in a Villa shirt at that time was pretty sickening, as you kind of knew the decision would backfire. Also, Nobby was genuinely loved by the fans, shown by the fact he always considered himself an ‘adopted Geordie’. Thankfully a wrong was somewhat righted, when he re-joined the club in the summer of 2005.
I was not around to experience the three major sales of the mid-1980s, when Waddle, Beardsley and Gascoigne all departed Barrack Road, but can imagine that they would also be up there in the question of our worst transfer sale in history. A time when it felt anyone who could be seen as a hero, was being sold off to ‘bigger’ clubs.
An honourable mention must also go to Yohan Cabaye, and his departure to PSG in January 2014 (that January window has not been kind to us down the years, has it?) – in terms of having an immediate negative impact on the team, this one is hard to top.
I think that this sale was less traumatic for myself, compared to the others, is that it was expected. Cabaye had already gone on strike earlier in the season to try and force a move through to Arsenal. Even so, it has to be considered one of the worst sales in recent times. Is there a more obvious case of a team’s heart being ripped out in one move?
I am sure everyone has their own worst memories of Newcastle’s selling exploits. Like so many things in football, it’s a personal choice.
The worst part is that when players do leave, as fans you can’t really do much about it, apart from maybe shout some abuse at them if they ever come back with their new club…and unfollow them on Twitter.
In general you just support the Club as much as you ever did. Nothing changes. Of course, this is how it should be, and if we are to start the season well then both Gini and Andros must become nothing more than an afterthought.
Thankfully I trust Rafa to be less sentimental than myself.
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