Will we be playing Newcastle United dominoes this summer?
Every once in a while, something happens at Newcastle United that turns me into something of a fatalist. The selling of Yohan Cabaye was once such incident. Now, he was a great player for us and a fantastic influence upon the rest of the players, he did however have his limitations and is far from being irreplaceable.
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It is the symbolism of the sale that I feel will have the greatest impact, not just upon the supporters but on the players. This could be a catalyst for an exodus of players from the club and the scary part is that it would only take one or two more key departures for Newcastle United to enter freefall.
My cynical attitude led me to viewing the first team squad and considering each player’s personal position within their careers, their contribution to the squad, the current footballing environment as well as those wonderful aspects that are central to modern day sport – money and rumour.
Whilst this is an extreme version of hypothetical events, almost a worst-case scenario, would anyone really be surprised if a good portion of this occurs?
Loans End – Loic Remy is having a good season with us and the rumour mill has already started regarding potential moves to Arsenal and Spurs. Who knows who else will be interested come the summer! Also Luuk De Jong, if he plays well do B. M’Gladbach look to retain him or jack up his price to a point where M. Ashley inevitably says “Nope, too much!” If the lad doesn’t perform, would we want to keep him?
End of Contracts – Shola Ameobi, the marmite player of the squad. He isn’t getting as many games as he would like and he will be going to the World Cup. Will he risk a contract extension at his hometown club to fade away into obscurity? Especially if a big offer comes in, after one or two half-decent performances in Brazil. Then there is Dan Gosling, who has had a torrid time at Newcastle and whilst he is a good player, his preferred style of play appears a long way from Pardew’s philosophy. Will want a good crack at a central midfield role in order for him to consider staying and will he be offered this – I don’t think so. Then there are the youngsters, Conor Newton is surely on his way out, he accepted a one year deal last summer and was promptly loaned back out to St. Mirren for the season. If this is the case, how can he truly have a future at the club? Remie Streete must surely be retained but stranger things have happened in football. Stephen Logan and Michael Richardson have been solid players for the U21s but will they make the step up? Will they have the opportunity to?
Agreements and Personal Circumstance – Fabricio Coloccini, does he have an unwritten agreement to leave for Argentina in the summer. It would be a devastating blow if he does and we are fully aware of the interest of San Lorenzo from last year. It is completely understandable that he wants to be close to his family and by itself, I think it would be easy enough to deal with. However, on the back of the Cabaye sale, it could be seen as the next departure of a key player and issues relating to maintaining quality and showing ambition. Coloccini’s compatriot, Jonas Gutierrez, is another one, where a supposed agreement is on the table with his current loan employers, Norwich City, for them to complete the purchase of the player. Whilst he has not been an integral part of the team this year, he is an experienced professional and much loved within the club. If there were to be wholesale departures, the loss of such players could be disastrous.
Rumours, Speculation and Big Offers – Mike Ashley is going to have some serious thinking to do this summer I feel. Tim Krul has already been the subject of speculation from around the Premiership as well as Serie A, particularly from Milan. What would Mike’s valuation of our keeper be and would a couple of appearances in an impressive Dutch team at the World Cup inspire someone to meet that price?
Much has been made of CheickTiote’s availability over the past few years with the current line of speculation arriving back at the doorstep of Manchester United and a struggling David Moyes. Would £15m be enough to tempt our club into the sale of our midfield general and vice-captain and more to the point, following other potential exits, what would his motivation to endure be like and would he be seeking pastures new?
Davide Santon is another being coveted within Serie A and whilst I think this is one of the least likely departures, it’s always a possibility. Especially when the pound signs are lighting up in front of our owner’s eyes. Roma have been fairly persistent in their pursuit of Santon and unless there is a sudden arrival of a World Cup player, there could still be a forthcoming offer from the Giallorosso.
One of the most likely and probably most disturbing outgoing transfers is Mathieu Debuchy to PSG. They have a stated interest in the player, full back is not their strongest option, they have very deep pockets and let us not forget that the lad has form for following his best mate to a club. Interest will surely only intensify if he plays and performs during the World Cup. It is probably the most disturbing due to our complete lack of ability to acquire a right-back ourselves to back up Debuchy, particularly with his occasional recklessness in the tackle. How are we suddenly going to find a suitable replacement at the possible drop of a hat?
Beyond these, we also have to consider the happiness and therefore the motivation of several players including Papiss Cisse for whom numerous offers were allegedly received or touted during this past transfer window; Sylvain Marveaux whose position in the matchday squad has been somewhat of a rarity this season despite his record for creating goals and opportunities last season when we were playing abysmally; Gabriel Obertan who allegedly stormed off after being left out of a matchday squad over the Christmas / New Year period and let’s face it, most of the fans don’t doubt his will to be involved but we were still a little bit happier knowing he couldn’t come on.
Finally, there is the happiness of one Hatem Ben Arfa. He who will only have twelve months left on his contract come July of this year. Many clubs will be after this mercurial talent with Inter already being credited with an interest as well as Liverpool. What will he make of potential departures? How would he deal with increased responsibilities within the club and on the pitch?
Where would all this leave us?
GK: Elliot, Alnwick.
DEF: Haidara, Dummett, S.Taylor, Williamson, Yanga-Mbiwa, R. Taylor, Tavernier, Good, Streete,
MID: Sissoko, Anita, Marveaux, Obertan, Ben Arfa, Ferguson, Bigirimana, Amalfitano, Vuckic, Ameobi, Abeid,
FWD: Cisse, Gouffran, Campbell, Armstrong,
With the lack of experience, the lack of steel and grit and most importantly a lack of quality and consistency that is present within this group of individuals, I hesitate to call it a team at this point – although they might surprise me.
I feel that the Championship and possibly League One could be beckoning. Obviously we would definitely be acquiring a decent amount of revenue from the above players but how much would be returned and what quality would we get from it? We have just missed the transfer window where best value for money was likely to be had.
Last summer had a surge due to increased funding, this additional funding will comtinue this summer whilst the World Cup will artificially inflate prices as well. Consider the last four that I mentioned as well, if they leave our attacking options will be decimated further (possibly ignoring Obertan). The one thing that it would give us is a clear slate to start from; but where would we invest and if we were to acquire £73.5m from the sales of Cabaye (£19m), Debuchy (£10m), Santon (£10m), Coloccini (£4m), Gutierrez (£3.5m), Tiote (£15m) and Krul (£12m). Would the money go to foreign clubs for ‘bargains’ that cost a fortune in agent’s fees? English players with a premium for their nationality? The lower leagues? Who would sign for a club in apparent freefall?
My fear is that Cabaye was the first domino, Coloccini might be the second and the rest just keep tumbling. It will take a monumental effort from all involved at the club to arrest such developments if they begin.
I think that as fans the most influential thing that we can do is prove to the players the number one reason for them to stay. We pack the ground out, we raise the roof, we cease any violence and animosity and we show why Newcastle deserves their love, their respect and their best efforts.
Don’t forget, our esteemed owner is a businessman: our commercial income is fairly low, our absence will affect the team and therefore prize money, future commercial income as well as standard operating income. The less that comes in, the less that will be spent on the team.