For those of you lucky enough to have seen the film Moneyball, you’ll know that it begins with much maligned GM Billy Beane losing his three best players.  For those of you who haven’t seen it, where have you been?

Alan Pardew had his own ‘Moneyball’ moment at the start of this year.  For one reason or another, Pardew lost 4 key players from his side; Carroll, Nolan, Barton and Enrique. An important core of the team had just vanished before his cockney eyes and new players had to be brought in.

So Pardew set about his task, adding on Cabaye, Ba, Cisse, Santon and signing Ben Arfa on a permanent deal. These players, coupled with a tenacious Tiote in midfield, a much improved Coloccini and a Mr.Tickle-esque Krul in goal, have formed one of the most consistent sides in the Premier League.

Football has a great many more variations than baseball, which makes picking up players that can build a championship winning team on the cheap very difficult indeed. However,  with the help of chief scout Graham Carr, he has picked up some very impressive players on a shoestring budget. Cabaye, a £4.5m signing from Lille, a double medal winner and French international, would have arguably been the buy of the season were it not for the signing of striker Demba Ba. Signings like that make the buys of Dzeko (£27m) and Torres (£50m) seem laughable.

The management style of Pardew has also brought the best out of the hugely talented Hatem Ben Arfa, whose performances after January have been spellbinding, and contributed to the 6 match winning streak that Newcastle went on.

Where Newcastle begins to differ from the Oklahoma A’s is that the Magpies have yet to win anything, though they are on the brink on European football. Ask any journalist at the start of the season if the Toon would be challenging for a top 4 spot with 3 games to go and they would have laughed in your face.

Newcastle needs to continue to grow and to do that they need to keep their stars. The plan now should be to stop Mike Ashley, the Ebeneezer Scrooge of football, from selling a Cabaye or Tiote as soon as he gets the whiff of a fat cheque. Hard headed businessman he may be, interested in Newcastle’s long-term future he is not.

  • Gadgie

    Ebeneezer Scrooge of football? I hardly think so.

  • rothervalleymag

    “Hard headed businessman he may be, interested in Newcastle’s long-term future he is not.”

    Lazy and utterly unsubstantiated piece of writing.  Everything Ashley has done over the past three seasons has been about the long term. Best owner bar none in the Premiership.

    • Juniorchubbs

      here man! ashley is only intersted in money!

      ive said it before, if newcastle win anything, its just a by product of ashley running his business to make money.

      all he wants is more money and if that means making newcastle look well ran and profitable for any prospective buyers then ashley will be happy – he’s not bothered about newcastle winning anything or bothered about the fans.

      wake up.

      • Steve

        http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/david-conn-inside-sport-blog/2012/may/01/newcastle-united-cockney-mafia-order
        Have a read of this Chubbs. Makes more sense than saying he’s only interested in one thing

        • Juniorchubbs

          good piece, but really, you think he’s in it to make the toon win things? money is the top priority.

          • Steve

            I absolutely think that he is in it for Toon success – after all success for the Toon means more money for him. Though I don’t think that money is his only motivation (I fail to see where he has taken money out of the club given all of the money for Carroll’s transfer can be accounted for – see above article – and he has given the club a >£100m interest free loan). I think his motivation is to succeed – and so far so good. I don’t buy into this stuff about expecting the owner or managing director to have to speak to the fans either (like we’ve recently seen the same demanding the FA explain the decision to overlook Redknapp to the fans too). Why should he? It’s his business and he can run it how he pleases.I also think that we maybe need to expect that we will sell players in the summer. We no longer have endless amounts of money – in fact we never had this given the absolute mess the Hall’s and Shepherd left the club in after years of over-spending – so we now have to be able to be self-sustaining . . . buy young upcoming players who can be nurtured, help to improve the club on the pitch and when needed sold at a profit – Ashley’s vision for the club, I believe. The ultimate outcome of this will be a debt free club with players wanting prove they can cut it in the PL and thus improving the fortunes of the club coupled with profit being made to be re-invested for the future. The future is bright – the future is Black and White.

      • Tone Army

        no sir it is you who needs to wake up & smell the european football ;)

  • Johnjohnson

    The Athletics are from Oakland, not Oklahoma.

  • cowfoot

    “Newcastle needs to continue to grow and to do that they need to keep
    their stars. The plan now should be to stop Mike Ashley, the Ebeneezer
    Scrooge of football, from selling a Cabaye or Tiote as soon as he gets
    the whiff of a fat cheque.”

    Part of me agrees with that, the other part recognises that a huge offer for either of those players (who are tied to long term contracts and won’t leave cheaply) could help invest more money into the squad at the same time as balancing the books. Not many people agreed with offloading Nolan, Barton, Enrique and Carroll…look where it’s got us.

  • Lennyp1971

    that would be oakland A’s……sorry for being picky

  • Lizard

    If you’ve read your Dickens you’ll know that at the end of the story Ebeneezer Scrooge ends up as the most generous, charitable and warm-hearted of men. So let’s hope MA is an Ebeneezer Scrooge!

  • Safc supporter

    Glad that i’m not the only one thinking this.