Graham Carr has finally left Newcastle United.
With his departure ends seven years of cut-price signings, brought in with a look at selling them on for future profit. In recent years, it would be fair to say he has become a divisive figure at the club.
The majority of the clubs signings from 2014 onwards could be deemed as failures. His record looks to have decreased with time, the club’s signings in the final pre-Rafa years were particularly hit-and-miss. Whichever way you look at it, Carr has to take much of the responsibility for this.
Unfortunately, for every Cabaye there has been a Cabella. For every Demba Ba, there was an Emmanuel Riviere not far behind. It is hard to judge whether his whole time at the club was a success or a failure. On the pitch in Carr’s time at the club was not a great success. Equally, many of the players he was credited with bringing to the club, were sold on for a huge profit. He has managed to almost solely represent the Ashley era. Financially responsible (ED: Not sure where relegation fits into being financially responsible!!), yet wielding very little success on the pitch.
It does have to be remembered, for good or bad, that profits were made. Sometimes with incredible value. For example, selling Mathieu Debuchy for twelve million pounds to Arsenal looks an incredible price, especially considering the trajectory his career has taken since the transfer. Signings and sales like that made it look as if he was indispensable at the club, it certainly would have looked like that to Ashley.
This was perhaps part of his downfall. With original success came power at the club. As Carr’s position became stronger, he possibly became complacent. In the summer of 2013, the club failed to sign one player (bar Loic Remy on loan), the failure to continue improving the squad leading to an extremely mixed season, a disastrous one from January onwards.
Players like Riviere, Yanga-Mbiwa, Cabella and dare I say it, even Mitro, were simply not good enough to help the club continue to progress in the Premier League. It led to relegation battles and eventually the drop. Not all of our better purchases from the last few seasons came directly from Carr. It is also claimed that the handful of deals Alan Pardew was directly responsible for, include bringing in Ayoze Perez and Rob Elliott, two players that could still be key figures next season.
It’s not only the quality of the signings that can be questioned but also the character of those individuals that should be judged. Can we really be surprised at Moussa Sissoko’s apparent lack of commitment in the relegation season, or Yohan Cabaye once going on strike to force a transfer, when you consider Carr and Charnley sold the idea of Newcastle as a short-term move.
If you are offering yourself up as a stepping stone of a club, don’t be surprised if a few players stamp on you in the process. Thankfully, I can’t see Rafa putting us in such a position again, should he stay long-term.
Whether the departure of Graham Carr ends up part of a wider manoeuvring behind the scenes as part of a proposed Chinese (or whatever nationality of) takeover, will have to be seen (I hope it is).
For me though, his termination was a long time coming. It had become clear a few years ago that the strategy of recruiting players, primarily from France at low cost, was never going to produce a truly capable squad.
He must be given credit for some of the finds he did make but equally, I have no doubt that the time has come to give Benitez control on recruitment, particularly ahead of one of the most important transfer markets this club has ever had. This summer we need players that are ready for a fight, not ones looking to jump onto a bigger and better ship at the first opportunity.
With Carr’s up-and-down ride at the Toon now over, it is interesting to see what will happen next.
Will Rafa simply have complete control over all incomings and outgoings in the transfer market?
Will he work with Lee Charnley to find another chief scout?
Whatever happens, the outcome must be that Benitez is completely satisfied with the way the club are approaching recruitment. If not, we could have another scare story- similar to the one that popped up after the January window, doing the rounds regarding a Rafa abdication.
A scenario everyone connected with the club must avoid, particularly Mike Ashley.
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