Why The Uniteds of Newcastle And Manchester Don’t Mix
Man.United, a fantastic club who challenge for major honours every year without fail and have always had fantastic players. Therefore, you would think signing players from the Manchester outfit would be a wise move, that surely they can’t fail to have quality if they were signed to play at Old Trafford? Well, from what I can see, the answer is no!
In fact, since the signing of Keith Gillespie as part of the Andy Cole move (mistake!), I would argue that not one player who has arrived on Tyneside having had experience of playing for Man.United, has been a success:
Alan Smith – Arrived in 2007 from Man.United in a deal costing around £6.5million under Sam Allardyce, Smith was handed a bumper salary of £60,000 a week. By this time however, the youthful, pacey Leeds striker that had caught Man.United’s attention, had long since died and Smith was now apparently a defensive midfielder. In his five years on Tyneside, Smith rarely featured in four of them as a result of injuries and a complete lack of form. To be fair to Smith, he was one of the players to stand up for the club in the Championship, however it can be said that this merely illustrated that this was where he really belonged. A costly failure by the club, Smith was content to sit on his wages last season and has since been released. All in all, Smith contributed very little to the club during his stay, scoring a total of zero goals and it is hard to recall him ever putting in an impressive performance.
Nicky Butt – Signed for £2million in 2004 by Bobby Robson, Butt appeared the ideal replacement for Gary Speed. In actual fact though, this was hardly the case. Speed was to star for Bolton whilst Butt was sent out on loan to Birmingham by Robson’s successor Graeme Souness. Butt made a return to Tyneside under Roeder and although he performed admirably in a large number of games, he was never able to reproduce the sort of form that he had demonstrated at Man.United, exemplified by the fact that he was in the Newcastle team relegated in 2009. A talented player no doubt, Butt makes it onto this list as he never performed as well as he could have at St.James’. Ironically, the most outstanding memory for most Newcastle fans of Butt, was when he gifted possession to his old team Man.United in the FA cup semi-final of 2005, which resulted in a goal for the Red Devils.
Ronny Johnsen – Signed by Souness as cover for the centre-half position in 2004, Johnsen, who had won the Champions League with Man.United, was obviously well past his best when he arrived, ended up making a grand total of 3 appearances for the club. It says something that Johnsen failed to establish himself in the side, given the fact that the centre-half options at the time consisted of Titus Bramble and Jean-Alain Boumsong, two of the worst defenders in Newcastle’s history.
Danny Simpson – Signed in 2009 after Newcastle’s relegation, some fans may see Simpson’s inclusion as harsh, however there can be no escaping that he was the weak link in the United side last season. Inept in possession and frequently rash, Simpson looks likely to leave Newcastle this summer as a result of ongoing, unsuccessful contract negotiations. Even if he were to stay however, it is clear that Pardew has earmarked the right-back spot as one worth improving, with his widely reported interest in impressive Lille and France full-back Mathieu Debuchy. In my opinion, Simpson cannot be regarded as a successful signing, as he has always failed to impress, hardly looked like a player who came through the ranks at Man.United and never won over the majority of Newcastle fans with his shaky performances.
Gabriel Obertan – Signed in the summer of 2011 for £3.5million, it is now apparent to Newcastle fans that it is hard to see what Man.United originally saw in Obertan. Since signing, Obertan has failed to establish himself in the team with a string of lazy and ineffective performances. His main attribute is pace, however he appears to be incapable of utilising this strength, as he spends the majority of matches either making pointless dribbles, losing the ball or walking around. Gutierrez and Ben Arfa have illustrated that they are far superior, while Sylvain Marveux ended the season in impressive fashion, meaning that Obertan has now slipped down the pecking order, as his prospects on Tyneside look bleak after his woefully unimpressive first season.
There clearly appears to be a curse on signing Man.United players and maybe Newcastle should heed this warning and stay clear of Old Trafford’s sloppy seconds.
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