I’ve made no secret of what I think about Michael Owen, safe to say he is not my favourite player. It’s hard to argue with the many polls that have had him down as the worst signing in our history. However, the news that Alan Smith has somehow got himself a two year deal with MK Dons got me thinking. Should Smith be given that dubious accolade?
If we are simply talking personality, effort and commitment then the lad from Yorkshire beats Owen hands down. When Smith was on the pitch, the workrate couldn’t be faulted, even if his end product sadly could. Surely though, it’s the end product that is the main criteria for judging a player?
If that is the case then the playing record of Alan Smith is as bad as anyone to have graced St James’ Park, 77 starts and precisely no goals. For his troubles, Smith was paid around £12 million quid in wages. At least for Owen’s £20 million pay cheque, he managed to put the ball away 30 times.
What is sad about Smith’s career is that he had been a very good player in his early days but his horrendous injury while with Man Utd effectively brought that career to an end. So trust Newcastle to sign him up on an obscene contact. However, was it the fault of Smith (or Xisco, Luque , Geremi etc ) to stay at the club on an obscene amount of money, rather than move on to play somewhere else for less?
If someone comes into your office today and says ‘Billy, have a 50% pay rise and now bugger off home to watch Jeremy Kyle for 2 years’, what are you going to do? I don’t think it will be ‘no thanks, I’d rather not have the money and would prefer to continue to work every hour of the day in front of this computer’.
All of the mentioned players and many others before them, have seen this club as a cash cow. As we try to bring in the right players this summer and keep the good ones we already have, for the long-term good of the club they have to be on the right contracts. That is contracts that reward their abilities but also don’t take away their ambition and desire to perform.
If that means we lose a couple of players we would prefer not to, rather than put them on £80k a week, then sadly so be it. The lessons of the past surely tell us, throwing silly money at players does not work.