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Tyne Talk

Farewell Alan Smith – A Liability To All

10 years ago

Everybody sees a football match differently. Indeed everybody seemingly sees individual footballers differently, especially in the case of Alan Smith.

We have finally seen the back of him, maybe he is the player that sums up Mike Ashley’s time at the club.

Ashley arrives at St.James’ Park only to find he’s been landed with Fat Sam by Freddy Shepherd (how he must chuckle about that from time to time). These days we tend to forget that in that first summer our (then) new owner did splash the cash; Barton, Cacapa, Rozehnal, Barton, Beye, Faye, Viduka, Geremi, Enrique and of course, Smith.

The total spent on transfer fees wasn’t to be sniffed at but the wage deals committed to then, are what brought about eventual relegation and Ashley falling totally out of love with owning a football club, whatever little or large  affection there had been initially.

Viduka and Geremi were given mega-deals reputed to be around £90k/£80k a week on the back of them coming as ‘bargain free’ signings, while not only were the likes of Barton, Smith and others given Premier League top end wages of around the £60k mark reportedly, they were also given five year contracts.

No wonder that when Ashley is now looking at incoming transfers he counts the wages over the entire contract as something to be included in his thoughts, now! To have shelled out something like £20m each on Barton and Smith in terms of transfer fees and wages and to have got such a feeble return, I almost feel outraged myself on behalf of Mike Ashley, though in reality it is purely on behalf of us, the fans, because as usual we have been the real losers in all of this.

The facts are that Alan Smith played 84 league and 10 cup matches, scoring less than once altogether. Since his move to MK Dons was finalised I’ve heard some people leaping to his defence.

Their main line of attack is that he did a great job helping us out of the Championship. The reality was that group of players should never have been relegated and even with some jumping ship the ones left were clearly a class above the Championship, as was seen with more or less the same players comfortably holding their own in the Premier League.

Yes Smith did play around two thirds of the matches in the promotion season but here is somebody on superstar wages (often his wages were more than the opposition eleven put together I bet) who to me didn’t even stand out at that level. Unsurprisingly he still didn’t score a goal, in fact I struggle to remember him having a shot. The reason we went up so easily was down to players like Enrique, Jonas, Carroll, Coloccini and Nolan.

In fact even though we always looked the best team in the division, it was only once Guthrie replaced Smith in the middle that Newcastle at last regularly outclassed teams over the entire ninety minutes. Rather than relying on long balls to Carroll and the class combination of Enrique and Gutierrez on the left.

To me Alan Smith was a player who jogged around the pitch, occasionally making daft lunges which falsely made some people think that he was therefore ‘committed’.

I don’t think he ever put his heart and soul into St.James’ Park and the damning statistic of never scoring a goal sums him up for me. In 94 matches with over a thousand corners and free-kicks sent into the box, Smith (an ex-centre forward) never ever made that right run that ended in a goal. It makes me laugh when people question Steven Taylor, there is a player who in 107 league matches in the same period has scored 9 goals, as a central defender.

Taylor plays with his heart (and head) and is totally committed to Newcastle United, if only that group of players in which Mike Ashley trusted Sam Allardyce could all say the same.

I’ll leave you with one final thought. One of the fans coming to Alan Smith’s defence mentioned what he remembered as the player’s highlight for Newcastle United….scoring in a friendly against Sampdoria.

I rest my case.


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