Be careful what you wish for…
Only in September and already we are on the verge of crisis – typical.
Squad harmony is being talked about as a potential issue when trying to find out just why we are playing so poorly at the moment, some of the players at the weekend were accused of looking disinterested and lacking real commitment.
I don’t think comments from Moussa Sissoko during the international break particularly do anything to help this current atmosphere, and whilst obviously casual interviews like these are not the central reason we are yet to win a game; it does add fuel to the ever-growing fire.
Moussa Sissoko seems to think that eventually one day, surely a player of his talent must play in the Champions League.
Don’t get me wrong, unlike many other fans I do rate Sissoko and think he is worth his place in the team, as we really lack pace and power without him. His attitude though seems to be waning slightly from what we can see as fans, and before he plots his January exit out of Newcastle, he might just want to think about some other players who have left us in the past five years – thinking they were going on to better things.
Last season it was pretty clear to many that Mike Ashley’s continued lack of investment over a series of transfer windows, along with an unwillingness to go and appoint a proper manager in January, led to us been dragged into a dogfight.
This summer though, no one can say that Ashley did not deliver on his promise, made at the end of last season, of fresh investment. In net spend terms, only the two Manchester clubs have spent more than us in the entire premier league.
Whilst his lack of spend is an obvious reason as to why the team has underperformed so dramatically in the past few seasons, for some fans the selling of potential key players (like, potentially Sissoko) is why we have struggled since finishing fifth in 2011/12.
Over the years a key allegation of the Ashley regime has been that he has turned us back into a selling club. This means every Newcastle player is available for a certain price, even if that price is ridiculous, as it was for Andy Carroll in January 2011.
Carroll however, is actually a classic example of players leaving in the Ashley era, thinking they are going onto better things, but actually achieving very little.
I make last Monday’s game the seventh time ‘big AC’ has faced his former club without scoring, and as we all know he has had a constant, seemingly endless, battle with injuries at Upton Park, after Brendan Rodgers deemed him surplus to requirements at Anfield.
I loved seeing Carroll in a Newcastle shirt, it wasn’t just that he was a ‘local lad’, it was also that it felt that he really represented and deeply respected wearing the number nine shirt. Judging his career since January 2011 though, can anyone really argue it wasn’t the right call?
Cabaye was the other obvious nightmare sell when he jumped ship to PSG almost two years ago. At the time I remember all the twitter experts saying ‘what a great move it was’ for our star player to be joining a team with ambition to win the Champions League.
Yet it has not quite worked out for Yohan, another player I hugely enjoyed watching in a Newcastle shirt, but he has now washed back up in England at Pardew’s Palace. It has been talked about as a marquee signing for them, and it some ways it is, but I doubt he will be the catalyst for them to finish top six.
The list is endless, Carroll’s immediate replacement in the striking department was Demba Ba, and when he headed south for Chelsea I thought it would truly hurt our chances of staying up that season. We managed it though and despite scoring an infamous goal at Liverpool, to describe Ba as a success at Stamford Bridge would be hugely generous.
Probably the one player to leave SJP in the Ashley era and end up with more egg on his face than any other, is Jose Enrique. Sometimes it is forgotten just how good he looked for us in our first season back in the premier league, even a call-up for Spain was talked about.
Months later he left on bad terms with parting comments about the club never being able to challenge for the top six again, with the policy of selling players for the right price. Next April he found himself barracked by all four corners of St James’, on a hilarious day with Liverpool down to ten men and eventually losing 2-0.
We finished fifth, Liverpool and Enrique ended up in eighth. Nowadays Jose seems to spend more time posting pictures on social media than playing football matches, yet it looked at the time like the Scousers had got him for a steal at £5 million.
If you were as harsh as myself you could also point to how little football Mathieu Debuchy (crocked) or Hatem Ben Arfa(half season global ban) have played since leaving SJP.
The only real exceptions since 2010 (promotion) are Kevin Nolan, who had a steady career with West Ham, or Fraser Forster (although he never played for our first team) who looks like he could challenge for the England No.1 shirt.
The vast majority of the big sales under Ashley have not gone on to further their careers. Perhaps this means we should not be worried when the inevitable speculation about Sissoko and Cisse starts again in January. Dare I say it, should we trust the board’s judgement in the transfer market?
Maybe Moussa Sissoko should think about what happened to Carroll, Cabaye, etc., before he continues to call himself a Champions League player, and thinks PSG is a dream move.
Be careful what you wish for, football has a funny way of evening itself out sometimes.
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