In 1996 Newcastle United broke the world record transfer fee in order to get the most sought after striker on the planet to come home.
That £15.6m deal for Alan Shearer seems an age away from contemporary reality, with the Toon seemingly content to deal exclusively in loan signings, whilst awaiting lucrative offers for pivotal players.
Gouffran, Sissoko, Cabaye, Ba: four players purchased for a grand total of around £8m in transfer fees, with the latter pair fetching almost £30m when departing.
The money received may be impressive from a business standpoint, but it only elevates the position of one man, Mike Ashley, who is loathe to spend any of it – in that case who cares if Yohan Cabaye brings in £25m eventually? Half of that is likely to go towards crappy tennis rackets with ‘70% off’ emblazoned upon their strings.
This is short-termism at its most basic level. Bring players in on loan for a year or six months, patch up the spaces in the squad and aim to run a football club in a way that has only ever brought fleeting success to the likes of Wigan Athletic or Middlesbrough.
As football fans most of us accept the logic of a policy of buy low, sell high when done in the way Everton do it. We all knew very early on that it was how the club would be run under this leadership. What most of us didn’t foresee is a complete blackout on permanent deals stretching through two transfer windows.
Joe Kinnear is there to act as a buffer, Mike Ashley plumbing the depths of swampy marshes to find a creature so despicable that the billionaire looks like a shining ambassador of goodwill and peace when in his presence.
Scumbags like Kinnear are rare, yet Mike seems to unearth more gems than Graham Carr on a scouting mission. Dennis Wise was another level of disgusting even from JFK, although Derek Llambias was only half as vile, hence his swift exit when a better candidate cropped up.
We sit in the peanut gallery, awaiting the next moment of uber indulgence, helpless because as much as we would like to step away from the gallows humour of the scenarios presented to us, this is in our blood, we can’t just cut and run.
It brings to my mind that old World Wrestling Federation performer, Ted Dibiase, aka: The Million Dollar Man, whose catchphrase was ‘everybody has a price’, as he used to pay audience members to take part in humiliating tasks for the glorification of his massive ego.
The difference is that our predicament is not scripted, we suffer mostly in silence, as one charmless oaf decides what act of abhorrence he can shove into our faces next.
Call the ground Mike Ashley stadium, sell all of the players apart from Shola, Obertan and Steven Taylor, promote the under 18 squad into the first team to save a few bucks, make Joe Kinnear manager…
These are a few ideas for the boneheads to mull over if they happen to read this.
The sad thing is, I’ll still support the team, even with all of the aforementioned provisions and the sheer contempt I hold Mike Ashley in. His shops are tacky, he appeared in one of the worst films I’ve ever watched (Goal 3) and he’s taking every shortcut he can with my football team to run it like a thrift store.
I believe that the moment we snapped up Loic Remy on loan a light went off in Ashley’s noggin, this was a way of avoiding signing on fees, large outgoings etc, hence the permanent deals dried up.
This is in danger of becoming the era of part-timers for us, with that world record fee paid for Alan Shearer, now as far removed from this version of ambition as Wayne Rooney is from winning a beauty pageant.
I hope I’m proved wrong. My heart and head both tell me that this summer will be the first time that 4-5 top players are sold/return to their parent clubs. That could spell big danger and another dogfight at the wrong end of the league.