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Modern Bloody Football – Part 2

6 years ago

‘I remember when I first signed and I said I would like to play in the Champions League or win something.

This is my dream. We did get into the Europa League a few years ago.

Now we want to bring a trophy to this club.

It’s a massive club and the fans here deserve that.’

(Evening Chronicle 21.08.2015, Fabricio Coloccini)

Was he given the wrong brochure?

Given he’s been here SEVEN YEARS I’m sure we can all judge that statement as being a little optimistic on his behalf and patronising towards the supporters.

What on earth has he been doing for all that time?  Remind us too of the needless red cards, wanting to leave etc  Not really setting a good example I’m afraid for someone who supposedly leads by example on the pitch, which isn’t the best advert for him either.

Steve McClaren has time to prove himself but he hasn’t won me over with this decision.  He was claiming in his pre-match interview before Man Utd that he was happy with the business done up to now and didn’t expect any more signings.

I find this wholly worrying given our central defence has been an absolute shambles for over 2 seasons now.  It’s easy to have a pop at the likes of Williamson and make him a scapegoat but the club captain is almost as much at fault.

Ok, so we got a point at Old Trafford but the goal Rooney had marginally chalked off was another classic example of Colo being undone straight through the middle of the pitch.  It could easily have been a defeat.  In many respects it’s no different to the last 2 away games at White Hart Lane where we’ve been battered but got a result, which barely papered over the rest of the season’s defensive performances.

To give him a contract extension and retain the captaincy based on not having played any pre-season games and being part of that shambolic defence, smacks of at best wishful thinking that if enough of us cross our fingers, toes and eyes then maybe, just maybe, he might start doing what you would expect of a club captain.

If only the media would ask this very obvious question which as far as I can tell they never bothered their arses doing.  Will I be apologising to Colo come May, or will he be apologising to us…again!!

I worry that Chancel Mbemba will go a similar way of Yanga-M’biwa in our back line.  Any chance of signing a centre half who we can rely on Steve?  Maybe he’ll explain via email?  Maybe with positive spin he’ll tell me that the equivalent four league games last season yielded one point so 2 points now is progress.  Statistically he would be correct, so I’ll judge again at Christmas which seems the modern thing to do.

Anyway, the transfer window.

It’s been compulsory since the 2002-03 season.  I’m still struggling to understand what it actually achieves.

Selling clubs hanging on until the bitter end in the hope a club will panic and pay over the odds for an average player (Charlie Austin possibly).

Buying clubs either paying over the odds early doors to secure a player, or taking a chance on waiting for a player becoming unsettled due to all the media unrest and handing in a transfer request (Stones definitely).  As we have found, it then leaves you with no time to replace a last minute sale (Carroll) when you haven’t bothered to prepare for that scenario, or you have to leave a player out of the team (Cabaye) because he thinks he’s on his way.

In the good old days of an open market, prices just seemed to be more amicably agreed in the scheme of things.  You feel someone can improve your team, you can ask if they’re available for transfer.  You lose a player, you can search for a replacement.  Someone gets injured, you can get someone else in.  A player falls out with the manager, you can send him on his way.  Nowadays, if someone takes a sulk you can be lumbered with them until the next window.

A few million quid these days wouldn’t get you an average Championship striker.  When players’ contracts ran out clubs would still get a fee which would often be settled by a tribunal, whereas these days they move on for free (Cheers Mr Bosman), which is an improvement I suppose.

I don’t seem to recall many controversial transfers during the season, before we even had a transfer window.  Just thinking off the top of my head, the transfers that immediately spring to mind where NUFC bought during the season.

In my youth Terry McDermott (Sept 1982 – Sept 1984), was quickly followed by David McCreery (Oct 1982 – June 1989) into Arthur Cox’s developing side, but the most influential player was surely a player who would eventually leave and return for an equally significant second spell.

Peter Beardsley (First time around Sep 1983 – Jul 1987)  joined after the season kicked off and anyone around at the time will tell you he was an absolute superstar in that promotion season.  Who knows if we’d have managed to go up without him, after completing the holy trinity with Keegan and Waddle?

Tony Cunningham (Feb 1985 – Jul 1987) and George Reilly (Feb 1985 – Dec 1985) followed very late into the season to join dour midfielders who bored me to death Pat Heard (Sep 1984 – Aug 1985) and Gary Megson (Nov 1984 – Dec 1985).  All were brought in by Jackie Charlton, the original Sam Allardyce if you like.

Cunningham was a bit of a cult (comedy) figure but his more vital scoring figures didn’t stack up, probably because he had to rely on the likes of Heard and Megson, or maybe just because he was pretty average.  George Reilly, who arrived with TC, was more affectionately known at the time as ‘Mavis’ or ‘Rambo’ depending on which performance he was giving.  It wasn’t a great team to watch at that time.

Billy Whitehurst (Dec 1985 – Oct 1986) – Probably best known for flicking the ‘V’ sign at the crowd who were all very brave and safe behind the riot fences.  In case he’s reading this, I thought he was ace!!!

Paul Goddard (Nov 1986 – Jul 1988) – joined a team struggling and had a pretty good impact, even scoring seven goals in seven games, dragging us out of the crap we found ourselves in before he arrived.

John Robertson (Apr 1988 – Dec 1988) – I felt a bit sorry for him, signing towards the end of the season from Hearts at a time when Scottish football was actually a decent standard.  I thought he’d be a great signing.  However, Robertson was prevented from playing in Newcastle’s final game of the season against West Ham in case they had lost by an 8 goal swing which would have relegated them.  The powers that be running football felt it would be unfair for our new boy to have an influence on that scenario.

Oh the irony when the next season kicked off and he couldn’t hit a cow’s arse with a banjo!!  Sent back to Hearts by December without a single goal to his name.  We had also bought Dave Beasant (who left by the January), Andy Thorn and John Hendrie before the season kicked off and the mood was positive.  What folly that was as we were promptly relegated.  I hope that’s not an omen for those excited by our signings so far.

During that relegation season we also acquired the services of Kevin Brock (Dec 1988 – Jun 1994), Ray Ranson (Dec 1988 – Jan 1993) and the ageing (well he was 30 so wouldn’t fit our current policy) Kenny Sansom (Dec 1988 – Jun 1989).  However, none of them could prevent us falling out of the top division.  Sounds similar to when we brought in Nolan and RTaylor during a January window!!

Brian Kilcline (Feb 1992 – Jan 1994) – cited as one of Keegan’s most important signings, he gave us a fear factor in defence and helped stop the drop into the third tier of English football.  Imagine you’re a striker and you have the choice of facing a Killer or a Colo!!

Ultimately though, despite being the club captain, he did not feature too much in the promotion campaign the following season with the partnership of Scott and Howey serving us well.  It’s an interesting situation that could and probably should apply to our current captain while he saw out his original contract.  But that’s modern football for you.  I wonder if Killer and Billy Whitehurst ever came up against each other?

Robert Lee (Sep 1992 – Feb 2002) – imagine not signing Rob.  The circumstances are well documented about the geography of Tyneside and Teeside.  I’d like to think I’d have chosen to play for Kevin Keegan ahead of Lennie Lawrence any day of the week.  He obviously went on to be one of the most influential players we’ve seen at the club in modern times.

Scott Sellars – (March 1993 – Dec 1995) Keegan speculating to accumulate.  Now there’s a novel idea, buying to keep the momentum going.  A great addition to “get us over the line” and push us on once we’d left the line well behind us.

Andy Cole (March 1993 – Jan 1995) – Arrived in similar circumstances to Sellars and love him or hate him he was another Keegan inspired signing.  I loved the man and was gutted when he left.  Alright, he didn’t cover himself in any glory at the cup final but he certainly went on to even bigger and better things after us, again moving during the season.  I wonder what price we would have got for him if a transfer window had been in place?

Keegan continued to punt on players to help improve the team and drive competition for places while the season was in full swing, including the likes of Ruel Fox (Feb 1994 – Oct 1995), Darren Peacock (Mar 1994 – Jul 1998) and most controversially one Faustino Hernan Hinestroza Asprilla (Feb 1996 – Jan 1998).

Was Tino really to blame for not winning the league?  Not in my view.  Man United just had a brilliant goalkeeper and French genius with the knack of spawning win after win.  I don’t want to say much more on that as it’s still too painful to this day.

As you can see from the transfer in and out dates for all those players mentioned, the vast majority all moved on during the season too and quite frankly, apart from Andy Cole, I didn’t think much of it at the time.  I don’t ever recall too many complaints about how transfers worked back then.

At least Waddle, Beardsley and Gazza waited until the season finished before they moved on and I (like many others I imagine) was gutted with losing all 3 of those.

Maybe since the window operates for players they should extend this to changing managers too?  Then clubs wouldn’t be berated for getting rid of bosses after a couple of bad defeats and a manager would at least get to prove whether indeed he was rubbish or not.  Get some brakes on that merry-go-round!!

SKY – the other issue with the transfer window is having to stomach the hype that the media, particularly SKY, have brought.  It’s like Christmas, with the countdown to the window “slamming shut” seeming to start earlier every year.  The sight of reporters outside training grounds with the bed sheet boot boys, which has comically turned into the inflatable phallus brigade, is just nauseating – I hope there has been torrential rain on Tuesday!!

It all gets a little complicated as some countries have different timeframes applying to their transfer windows.  Then there are loan deals and players out of work where the rules are different.

The fact the season has kicked off seems ridiculous too as players possibly hoping to move, don’t want to risk injury and scuppering a transfer, or managers don’t trust them to perform while the circus goes on all around them.

Look at the De Gea situation at Man United, not unlike Cabaye with ourselves.  It just doesn’t seem right.  Then you have players like Peter Odemwingie who drove to QPR thinking he was being signed only to be turned away, that was priceless!!

I’d much prefer deals to be announced once the player signs, rather than the weeks and weeks of hunting, sniffing, unsettling, raising hopes and dashing dreams.  Still, I suppose it gives Jim White the opportunity to put his excitable voice into some context twice a year.

To read Horsey’s Modern Bloody Football – Part 1, go HERE

(To feature like Horsey send in your articles for our website to [email protected] – all views those of the author etc etc)


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