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Opinion

Raid the relegated – Newcastle United compilation

5 months ago
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Okay, so I’m bored of this takeover. I can’t stop myself Googling it every hour.

I mean, I don’t want to actually miss it if it does happen!

But I never click into the daily nonsense spouted by most websites. If an article doesn’t say ‘NEWCASTLE TAKEOVER COMPLETED’ I won’t open it anymore. I get my fill of Newcastle United talk from The Mag.

Every year I write an article identifying players from relegated sides who could be good signings for us. Last summer was the first since 2014 that I didn’t. I was so disenchanted by the departure of Rafa that I couldn’t be bothered to write or ponder on anything Newcastle related. I toyed with the idea of looking over my previous suggestions and seeing how they all got on but didn’t have the enthusiasm to do that either.

A few weeks into this lockdown business, I considered doing a compilation again, but thought it might be a touch narcissistic and boring. As the weeks rolled by and this will they/won’t they takeover chat taking more turns than a dinghy with a one-armed oarsman, I kept thinking about putting it together.

After weeks of putting it off, on Monday I told myself, if the takeover hasn’t been announced by Friday, I’m doing that bleeding article. So here we are.

You may think this is all a bit pointless but when I wrote my most recent instalment of these, someone asked for a link to the previous year in the comments. So, there’s definitely a market of one out there. Maybe a few more of you will enjoy a distraction from the ownership saga. It’s not going to be a brief article so no tears will be shed if you skip this one.

After five instalments and 24 players picked (22 if you take into account that two are picked twice), here are the players I selected in the past.

How many do you wish we signed and how many have tanked? Are there any players in the last five or six years that you wished we had signed from a relegated club?

Summer 2014

Nathan Redmond

The guy was 20 when I first flagged him as a potential signing. With good England Under 21 stats and a quick and skilful style, I felt he could be a good player to challenge on either wing. He stayed at Norwich for another two seasons, helping them to win promotion and then get relegated again. The 24 Premier League goals in close to six seasons at Norwich and Southampton doesn’t suggest he’s ever going to be a prolific winger, but he certainly offers some vibrancy. I wouldn’t have him over Almiron or ASM today, but I think at the time he would have provided a lot more threat than Cabella. Then again, so would a toddler with a water pistol.

Steven Caulker

Caulker was one of Cardiff’s better players in their first Premier League stint but his career has never taken off since. He signed for QPR that summer and was relegated again. Once back in the Championship he was twice loaned to Premier League clubs but only played three games for Southampton and then, bizarrely, three for Liverpool, before being sold to Dundee and onto Alanyaspor where he now plies his trade. Looked a good young player at the time but his career has stagnated since and I definitely don’t think he’d be an upgrade on the centre backs we have today, although he may have provided good competition at the time.

Patrick Roberts

Only 17 years old when relegated but he looked sharp and exciting. He stayed with Fulham for a year in the Championship before signing for Man City! He’s only made one appearance for the Citizens though and has had loan spells at Celtic, Girona, Norwich and Middlesbrough since. His best season was 16/17 in which he scored 9 SPL goals from 32 games. This season he started off on loan at Norwich but was recalled due to a lack of game time (only making three top flight appearances) and went off to Middlesbrough in January where he’s featured 0 times. At 23 he looks unlikely to fulfil his potential and, considering our history of bringing young players through, I doubt he would have been a good signing.

David Marshall

Had a great season in goal for Cardiff and kept the scores respectable in a few games. He stayed at Cardiff before moving on to Hull and now Wigan. Never escaped the Championship and therefore probably wasn’t going to be taking the gloves off of Tim Krul in a hurry. Would have been nice to have a third quality keeper when Krul and Elliot both got injured and Jak Alnwick got thrown in at the deep end that season.

Summer 2015

Charlie Austin

Relegated with QPR but managed to get 18 PL goals. Stayed with them the for the first half of the Championship but was clearly too good for that level with 10 goals in 16 games. Earned his move back to the Premier League with Southampton in Jan 2016.

Unfortunately, his perennial injury concerns have stopped him enjoying what should be his peak years. The 17/18 campaign was his best season for Premier League appearances and goals with 24 and seven respectively. In his other two and a half years at the Saints he totalled just 47 games and nine goals. Has had a decent year in the Championship at West Brom with eight goals from 26 appearances.

Still admire him as a player and the journey he took to get to the Premier League. I would have liked to see him pulling on the Newcastle shirt and, despite the time he would have spent out, I think would have provided more threat than Cisse had we signed him. Remember, this was the relegation year when Papiss scored only three goals all year and spent a third of the season injured and a third offside. Let’s not even discuss the contributions of R*vie*e and Dou**ia.

Danny Ings

Looks like I’d cursed players this year. Eventually signed for Liverpool that summer so we never had a chance anyway. Ings only played 14 Premier League games in three seasons after signing for the team he supported as a boy. In 16/17 he didn’t get on the pitch once! It was a shame for a lad who looked a canny player at Burnley.

Fortunately, his transfer to Southampton has completely contrasted to Austin’s and he’s now made 55 PL appearances since joining and scored 22 goals in under two years. He has an average of more than a goal every two games this season and has featured in every PL fixture so far. Possibly the right signing but highlighted at the wrong time. Maybe we should have gone for him over Joelinton when Southampton opted to make his loan permanent last summer.

Sandro/Huddlestone

Not sure why I put these two as a collective. Not sure what I was thinking either. I guess the relegated teams just had nothing to offer in their midfields that season. Sandro looked a bullish, intelligent centre midfielder once upon a time but had fitness issues that stopped him becoming the player he should have. Made 11 Championship appearances before four in the Premier League in a loan spell with West Brom. Has gone on to bumble about Turkey, Italy and now Brazil. Hasn’t made 20 league appearances in a season since 12/13 with Tottenham.
Huddlestone helped Hull return to the Premier League and then fall out of it again before moving back to the team he started his career at, Derby.

This season we had midfield option of Wijnaldum, Sissoko, Shelvey and Tiote (plus a few others that won’t get an honourable mention) and still got relegated, so I doubt this pair would have helped much.

Andy Robertson

One of the players who I think we seriously missed out on.

I highlighted him again two years later but he was soon snapped up by Liverpool that time around. We would have had a chance to secure his signature back in 2015 though as no one came in for him. He helped Hull get back to the Premier League but left when they were relegated at the first attempt. Has been outstanding at Liverpool since signing for them. It seems like an eternity since we had a natural full back on the left that could attack and defend, and this guy would have been perfect.

Joey Barton

I only suggested this character to give us a bit of fight in the dressing room, rather than increasing the quality of the first team. Considering it took a 21-year-old Lascelles to infamously provide that fight late in the season, then maybe this wouldn’t have been such a bad signing after all. Was never going to happen though. Left QPR to play for Championship rivals Burnley and made it into the PFA Team of the Year. From there went to Rangers but soon fell out with the manager and had his contract terminated.

Burnley took him back on for one last crack in the Premier League before he hung up his boots having had to accept a ban for breaking betting rules. I must remember to buy his autobiography. He’s now putting smiles on Geordie faces once more, tormenting the Mackems as manager of Fleetwood in that division a couple of tiers below ours.

Summer 2016

As mentioned above, this was the year we got relegated. Villa were rubbish and I didn’t particularly fancy any of their players for the Championship campaign. This year I focused the article on the players that were likely to get raided from us. I did pick three Norwich players that may have been able to do a job.

Nathan Redmond

See above. Would have been a real asset in the Championship but as he moved back to the Prem, I doubt we could have got him anyway. In fairness, Gouffran and Atsu did a decent job on the left that year.

Robbie Brady

One of many players who doesn’t make it out of the Manchester United youth system but plies a decent career elsewhere. I only ever saw him as a squad player for us and suggested him mainly due to his versatility. I thought he could be another Ryan Taylor/James Perch type player that could do a job in several positions. He put in a good shift for Norwich in the first half of that Championship year. You may remember they appeared to be our main threat that season until the crazy 4-3 victory. Signed up for Burnley in January that year and has been a steady Premier League player since, but injuries have kept his appearances low.

Sebastien Bassong

Looked like a real player at Newcastle before he jumped ship after our first relegation. He was our player of the year in that relegation year of 08/09. Stayed with Norwich for the Championship but was released at the end of that year having made only nine appearances. Probably would have been about as useful as Grant Hanley had we signed him.

Interestingly, despite me ruling out poaching any Villa players, we did just that. We signed Ciaran Clark who ended up being one of our best players and probably three or four times a better signing than Bassong would have been. Looks like Rafa knows best.

Summer 2017

Jermaine Defoe

Linked with us but never likely to happen. Would’ve been a great signing just to enjoy the uproar from Wearside. Went back to Bournemouth, where he had been on loan as a kid, and did little, with only four goals in 28 games. Currently smashing it at Rangers with 21 league goals in 37 appearances over the last couple of seasons. Wouldn’t have added much to us back then, I doubt.

Andy Robertson

See above. Liverpool ended up signing him for £8 million that year. How cheap could we have got him for two seasons earlier?

Ben Gibson

Rather surprisingly wasn’t snapped up by anyone after Middlesbrough’s relegation. Played all but one game in the Championship and has earned his return to the Premier League with Burnley. A lot was said about his potential but at 27 he has made just one Premier League appearance in close to two seasons as he has had horrendous luck with injuries. Not looking a great return for £15 million currently.

Alvaro Negredo

Went to Besiktas and scored nine goals in 33 games in the weak Turkish league. Realistically wouldn’t have been much of an upgrade on Joselu. I only ever highlighted him as a back up player although he might get into the current team…

Adama Traore

I almost selected him the year before when Villa went down.

He looked like such a handful, I thought he could be a decent signing. However, no goals and only one assist in 10 league games as well as reported ill-discipline led me ignore him. He only got one assist and still didn’t score in 27 games for Hull when they went down but you could just see that if he improved his finishing and final ball, he could be a real player. Stayed for the Championship season and scored five with 10 assists in 34 league games from the wing.

Back in the Prem with Wolves now and no one can deny his quality. Somebody on the Mag described him as a combination of the Hulk and Roadrunner and I think they are spot on. Just one goal and two assists last year but with four and eight this season, the Barcelona academy product is finally starting to fulfil his undoubted potential.

Kamil Grosicki 

Didn’t leave Hull for a while after relegation and managed 24 goals from midfield over the course of two and a half seasons. Went to the World Cup with Poland for their disappointing campaign and signed for West Brom this January. I’m quite surprised no Prem team has taken a chance on the player since he left the division.

Summer 2018

Xherdan Shaqiri

A lot of the players I recommend get signed by Liverpool it seems, with contrasting outcomes. We never really had much of a chance of getting Shaqiri but what a signing the Swiss international would have been. It’s the backing to sign players of this calibre that would have convinced Rafa to stay.

Jordan Ayew

Signed by Crystal Palace after Swansea went down. I think Ayew is a quality player on his day but his day doesn’t come around often enough. I believe he’s more of a winger than a striker but when your wing options are Zaha and Townsend and your striker options are Benteke and Wickham, I guess there’s only one home for him.

Jack Butland

Okay, so we signed Martin Dubravka permanently that summer and I wouldn’t have it any other way. However, at the time he wasn’t officially our player yet and I was writing an article specifically on relegated players that could improve our squad of contracted players. Still plying his trade in the Championship with Stoke, which is a surprise to me.

Kieron Gibbs

When will we sign a natural left back that can do it all, I wonder. Gibbs could have provided consistency on the left in a side that used a multitude of players on that flank that season, with few fully convincing. Definitely would have been an upgrade on Antonio Barreca. Remember him?

Salomon Rondon

When I suggested this fella, I got a fair bit of stick in the comments, but these articles are all about stirring debate.

A year later and most fans were furious that we didn’t sign our player of the season. It’s not just goals he brought to the team; he was such a good link up man. I genuinely think in a team with a talented and creative midfield he’d comfortably have 15+ goals in him. He reminds me a bit of The Rock too which just increased my liking of him further.

Turns out I missed a couple of tricks that season as we actually signed three relegated players. Fernandez who has been fantastic for us since and Ki Sung-Yueng who was a steady addition without doing anything sensational.

Let’s hope this takeover goes through and we can start looking at players competing in the Champions League rather than the Championship.

You can follow the author on Twitter @billymerlin

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