Earlier this week I spoke to the Liverpool fans’ site This is Anfield to give an insider’s view on their pending acquisition of Georginio Wijnaldum.
I actually felt like a bit of a sh*t, as the Scousers were clearly excited about their new buy, building up for an all-action midfielder brimming with versatility. My honest responses will have prepared them more for an occasionally brilliant but largely anonymous player who disappeared for the second half of last season and whose performances away from home were about as convincing as Wayne Rooney’s hair implants.
I’ve read some conflicting opinions from Newcastle fans, but I can’t say I’m sorry to be selling Wijnaldum, especially for such a very good price. His eleven goals was a good return last season but this statistic was warped, as four of those came in one bizarre game against Norwich and two in the season-ending dead rubber v Spurs.
On occasions when he wasn’t scoring goals he contributed little else and it seemed to be a story we’ve seen far too often in recent years: great player, but when the chips are down his heart just isn’t in it.
I realise this may be a snap judgement given the lad’s singular season in England. St James’ Park must have been a tough place to settle under McClaren, with a coach in above his head reporting to an ill-qualified board to mish-mash together an unbalanced squad. It could be the environment that threw Wijnaldum off his stride and Liverpool may well see the benefits of a more settled player. However, in recent years we’ve sort of come to expect this.
If we are lucky, Sissoko will follow Wijnaldum out of the door and potentially at a higher price after his fee-inflating displays at the Euros. He has no excuses for years of sluggish performances belying incredible ability.
This list extends on: Cabaye and Debuchy used the club as a stepping stone and arguably did themselves no favours by spoiling to go. Cabella didn’t work out and the plug was pulled after a year. Thauvin and Gouffran remain in the squad to the consternation of many fans.
The ridiculous thing about the Wijnaldum situation is that some fans seem grateful that he’s not as bad as some of the above named. He scored a few goals and looked a decent player for the first half of the season at home, but was frighteningly anonymous in every away game. From January onwards he brought his away form to SJP and switched off for the season. To me that makes a positive performance ratio of 25% (the home games in the first half of the season) and that’s being generous, given some of the dreadful team performances against the likes of Watford and Everton.
Well, listen everyone: YOU DON’T HAVE TO PUT UP WITH THAT!!! Being decent <25% of the time is not nearly good enough and it could just be that the wind change Rafa Benitez is bringing, will finally banish this low level of acceptability.
The same week Wijnaldum has left in a high profile mega-bucks transfer, Grant Hanley has come into the club in a comparatively low-key transfer.
This guy has been described as having character, leadership skills and a determination to be part of the renaissance of Newcastle United.
I actually believe him, and what’s more I have faith in Rafa to have brought in someone who can be an asset in the Championship and still kick on to be a star in the Premier League, should all go according to plan.
I hope and believe that we are at a point now that the people who come to this club are beyond question. Basically, if Rafa thinks they are right, that’s good enough for me.
No more second guessing someone who looks a bit lightweight, or seemed completely disinterested in the move before it was completed.
Hanley wanted to come to Newcastle because he wanted to be a part of Newcastle United, not for some mutually beneficial short-term arrangement where Carlos Kickaball helps the plucky outsiders from the north turn over a few unlikely characters, in return for the exposure needed to cement a place in their national side and engineer a move to someone with five stars on FIFA.
So sod off Wijnaldum, sod off Townsend, Sissoko get to soddery and be sodded with you anyone like that from the last ten years. You were well paid for your services, but clearly had no depth of feeling for the club.
We now desperately need an attacking midfielder but have plenty of money to spend on someone who wants to be here. Quite why anyone continues to pay lip service to those that never did, is beyond me.
Viva la Rafalution.
Follow Jamie on Twitter @Mr_Dolf