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Opinion

Peter Beardsley defines Mike Ashley stupidity

3 months ago
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I want to talk about Peter Beardsley.

Not the Peter Beardsley who is still the subject of allegations of bullying and racist behaviour towards young players (quite ridiculous there is still no conclusion to this investigation over 16 months after the now former NUFC coach went on gardening leave whilst the matter was investigated…).

Instead, it is the Peter Beardsley who is the greatest player many/most of us have ever seen in black and white, that I want to talk about.

As a kid, it was incredible when Kevin Keegan came out of nowhere to rescue Newcastle United in 1982.

The then England captain signing when NUFC were struggling in the second tier.

An exciting season with lots of goals and entertainment but ultimately no promotion as United finished fifth (no play-offs back then).

With Keeegan, Waddle, Varadi and McDermott in the team, that was some attacking power.

Amazing now to think just how gutted Newcastle fans were, when fan favourite Imre Varadi was sold and an unknown Peter Beardsley brought in to replace him. Beardsley had moved to Canada to make it in football and Newcastle signed him from Vancouver Whitecaps for £150,000.

That forward line of Keegan, Waddle and Beardsley was exhilarating and carried Newcastle to promotion, KK retiring at the end of that 1983/84 season.

It being Newcastle United, it was all allowed to fall apart, with Chris Waddle and then Peter Beardsley (later followed by Gazza), leaving the club due to lack of ambition.

Peter Beardsley left in 1987 and was class for Liverpool, then much loved in his two years at Everton.

Summer 1993 and yet again we saw the genius of Kevin Keegan.

As Newcastle were on their way to promotion in February 1993, Keegan had identified a 21 year old Andy Cole as the striker to help ensure promotion and be his centre-forward in the Premier League.

To then totally transform the NUFC forward line, KK took the brave decision in summer 1993 to sell a trio of strikers (Kelly, Quinn, Peacock) who had been the top scorers in each of the past three seasons.

To partner Andy Cole, Kevin Keegan turned to Peter Beardsley.

Or should I say…32 year old Peter Beardsley.

Yes, 26 years ago, Kevin Keegan told John Hall that £1.5m was a bargain for Peter Beardsley.

To have an idea of what £1.5m was back then in terms of transfer fees, only a year earlier Blackburn paid a new English record transfer fee of £3.6m to land Alan Shearer.

In terms of football inflation, paying £1.5m for a 32 year old Peter Beardsley back in 1993, was far more than paying £16.5m for a 29 year old Salomon Rondon now.

Rondon of course can’t touch Beardsley in terms of ability but the principle is the same. A top class Newcastle manager identifying key players and needing to be realistically backed in their judgement.

The rest is of course history, Peter Beardsley improved all the players around him and Newcastle finished third in the first season up. Beardsley and Cole scored a record 55 (Cole 34, Beardsley 21) in the Premier League that season, still a PL record. In all competitions the pair got 65 goals, plus of course Beardsley made so many for Cole and others.

In his second spell, Peter Beardsley played four seasons and in all competitions made 41 appearances (1993/94), 44 (1994/95), 40 (1995/96) and 37 (1996/97).

Newcastle having finishes of 3rd, 6th, 2nd and 2nd in the Premier League, in large part thanks to Beardsley.

So, I repeat, Peter Beardsley was truly brilliant in that second spell, arguably even better than his original time at the club. Yet for Mike Ashley, it would have just been an automatic no, purely because of his age.

It is widely reported that Mike Ashley is insisting on a return to his rigid policy of buying nobody aged over 26.

If that had been the case back in the day, we would never have seen Sir Leslie Ferdinand (28 when he arrived), David Ginola (28) and Tino Asprilla (27), to name but a few.

Age obviously is one factor when considering the value of a player but it is only one of a number of deciding factors.

Rafa Benitez must be given the freedom to sign whoever he wants within an agreed realistic budget, whether it is Salomon Rondon, Peter Beardsley, or whoever.

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