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Opinion

Ciaran Clark sending off – Amused by club description of incident compared to media…

7 months ago
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Ciaran Clark has been making headlines once again.

The Newcastle United defender starting the friendly against Al-Ittihad but not finishing it.

Sent off in the second-half along with the home side’s goalscorer Hamdallah.

Allan Saint-Maximin giving United the lead and then Ryan Fraser scoring the winner after both sides were reduced to 10 men.

I was amused by the club description of this Ciaran Clark sending off in Jeddah compared to the media’s take on it…

Newcastle United official match report:

‘Ciaran Clark was then somewhat harshly shown a straight red card after tangling with Hamdallah, who was also dismissed.’

I did wonder how Ciaran Clark had managed to get sent off in a behind closed doors friendly, especially with the club employee’s description of the incident and then I saw this video clip…

The Mail:

‘Newcastle United’s trip to Saudi Arabia ended on a shameful note when Ciaran Clark was sent off for punching an opponent during a friendly match.

In front of watching Saudi dignitaries – as well as Her Majesty’s Ambassador, Neil Crompton – the defender was red-carded after striking Al-Ittihad striker Abderrazak Hamdallah, who was also dismissed following a tangle.’

The Mirror:

‘Newcastle United’s Saudi tour ends in shame after Ciaran Clark’s act of violence.’

It doesn’t make great reading when you look at the last three times Ciaran Clark has started a Newcastle United match…

30 November 2021 – Newcastle 1 Norwich 1

Clark messed up a routine clearance and then pulled Norwich striker Pukki back, leading to an obvious red card. This left his teammates a man down after only nine minutes in a ‘must win’ relegation six-pointer.

19 December 2021 – Newcastle 0 Man City 4

A first start since that Norwich disaster, Ciaran Clark must have been telling himself ‘Don’t do anything stupid, don’t do anything stupid…’ and after only five minutes right in front of his own goal, the centre-back inexplicably ducked out of a header and Ruben Dias couldn’t miss from a few yards out.

28 January 2022 – Al-Ittihad 1 Newcastle 2

After a successful warm weather training week and playing in front of the club’s owners, Ciaran Clark sent off in a friendly for punching one of the local club’s players.

Clark’s stupidity predictably led to some of the usual idiots on social media going over the top with abuse.

However, as usual, the real stupidity is as usual traced back to Mike Ashley and Steve Bruce.

Ciaran Clark was bought by Rafa Benitez for £5m from Aston Villa when the NUFC manager had to rebuild a team to get promotion. Clark was very good in the Championship and the next season played a very decent part in an expertly organised by Rafa defence, starting 19 of the 38 PL games as Newcastle conceded only 47 goals, only six other PL clubs conceding less.

The next (2018/19) season, Newcastle once again had the seventh best defence, only conceding 48 PL goals, however, Ciaran Clark only started nine matches.

If Rafa Benitez had not been forced out and allowed to trade players in and out, the Spaniard would have been shaking hands with Ciaran Clark, thanking him for his contribution and wishing him the best of luck at possibly a struggling PL club, or more realistically a promotion chasing Championship club. Newcastle banking maybe a couple of million for a central defender set to turn 30 (in September 2019). Benitez then upgrading and bringing in better quality central defenders to help Newcastle progress into being hopefully a top eight team.

Instead…Mike Ashley brings in Steve Bruce and the rest is history.

Amongst many ludicrous contract decisions, can you believe that Ciaran Clark was given a new contract as recently as January 2021, that takes him up almost to the age of 34?

Well, easy to believe because this is what Mike Ashley and Steve Bruce did, instead of bringing in the essential better quality players that were needed, they instead gave some astonishing new deals to Championship / low level players.

Jacob Murphy

Six year contract in July 2021, will be aged 32 when it ends in 2027.

Isaac Hayden

Six year contract in 2020, will be aged 31 when it ends in 2026.

Matt Ritchie 

Three years and four months contract in March 2020, will be aged 33 when it ends in 2023.

Dwight Gayle

Thee year contract in July 2021, will be aged 34 when it ends in 2024.

Karl Darlow 

Five year contract in 2020, will be aged 34 when it ends in 2025.

Jonjo Shelvey

Three years and four months contract in March 2020, will be aged 31 when it ends in 2023.

Jamaal Lascelles

Then you have the captain who was given a six year contract in 2018, will be aged 30 when it ends in 2024.

This is the massive challenge that Eddie Howe and the new owners have been faced with, a squad that has an overwhelming number of players that aren’t good enough (many more, not just the ones above – the likes of Krafth, Gillespie, Fraser, Hendrick etc brought in by Steve Bruce and who aren’t Premier League first choice starting level).

As we already can see in this January transfer window, it is going to be a real struggle, a very expensive one, to bring this NUFC squad up to the level needed just to compete at a decent level, never mind the eventual hoped for challenge to the self-appointed elite at the very top.

Then they have the mammoth task on top of that, of moving out so many players on Premier League contracts, some of them lasting another four or five years(!!!), who are Championship level ability.

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