Date:Monday January 31 2011
So the transfer window closes and again Newcastle have been involved in a dramatic day. TOTT reviews the final acts.
In a roller coaster season, there was drama at the start of December, with Chris Hughton looking forward to contract negotiations and being summarily sacked. The club wanted to go in a different direction with a more experienced manager.
The experience came in the shape of Pardew, listed in the TOTT analysis of candidates as the joke that only Sunderland supporters would be laughing at. His Premier League experience amounted to a mere few dozen games more than Hughton, relegating Charlton and leaving West Ham on the brink.
In his opening press conference, abandoned by the owner and Chairman, Pardew confidently proclaimed that he would be "banging on the door" to release transfer funds in January. He boasted of his record of persuading owners to invest in support of his judgement.
The tone changed as we came closer to the window, what an achievement it would be not to lose key players. The spirit and strength of the squad was good. There were not players in the squad who were looking to leave.
Pardew may have been banging on the door, the net effect was to see the door stay closed. The window came crashing down with the panes falling out and the picture window shattered.
The background is a threadbare squad, with no cover for left back, injured cover at right back with a utility player of limited quality covering along the defensive line. The cup defeat at Stevenage included the use of a central midfield deputy on the left, as the only right winger went on loan to the Championship. Other cover with some first team experience, notably Kadar and Tavernier also went on loan, with striker Xisco back to Spain.
The club will undoubtedly point to the permanent signing of Ben Arfa as a success. He had already been signed for the season months ago, broke his leg and realistically, will not feature again until March.
The other incoming is Stephen Ireland. He had a great season at Manchester City, but his application has been called into question by Trappatoni, Mancini and now Houllier. He provides even greater depth in a position where Newcastle are already strong, with Barton, Nolan, Guthrie, Gosling, Smith, Tiote, the young Vuckic and potentially Ben Arfa.
The big news had been Andy Carroll. This has been an emotional season for him, given the cherished number 9 shirt, subject to a court appearance, called up for England and seen his mentor sacked, all after a bust up last season with the other local hero. To cap it all, he is the leading English striker in the Premier League. We do not why he requested a transfer, but the truth may come out in years to come.
Having signed a contract extension in November, Carroll professed his pride in the number 9 shirt at his home club. Even after Hughton was despicably sacked, he claimed that he would stay at the club. His press utterances have been remarkably few since, despite lurid Sunday tabloid stories.
Despite those early pronouncements, there must have been doubt about the intentions at the top of the club, with Hughton gone. Being sidelined from the bulk of training with the team through a persistent thigh injury, who knows what was going through his mind?
Deadline day newspapers were led by the Sun, suggesting that Liverpool were set to bid, tripling the salary, and providing a platform for future growth. Carroll will have heard off the previous local number 9 how much Dalglish, also a former manager at Newcastle, improved Shearer`s technique, awareness and finishing skills. The cat was already out of the bag, despite Premier league regulations.
Something must have clicked in Carroll`s mind, whether it was the positive of Dalglish, or the influence of his Liverpool and England team mates. Was it his chequered past and the quest for a new beginning, his car being torched, the money or even a reflection on the loyalty the club showed to Hughton. His managerial influence has certainly been disturbed since his Palermo debut; Souness, Roeder, Pearson, Allardyce, Pearson, Keegan, Hughton Kinnear, Hughton, Shearer, Hughton and Pardew.
Carroll is an undoubted talent. A strike rate of 0.55 goals per start is extraordinary in one so young, particularly given his Premier League rate this term of 0.61, stunningly ahead of the man he replaces, Torres, at the same stage of his career. Were he to have stayed at Newcastle, his status in his home city would have been legendary. Dalglish made Shearer a British record signing. Now he has done the same with Carroll.
Where Shearer had contributed to restoring the image of his home club, declining the overtures of Manchester United, in half a day that image has gone.
And what of Pardew? Having received assurances that Carroll would not be sold, the promises seem hollow. Was Pardew lied to, did he lie, and was he consulted? Why was the transfer request not turned down? His press conferences over the next week should be uncomfortable, and rightly so.
So there we have it, the door banging left a hollow ring. In is Ireland. Out are Carroll, Routledge, Kadar, Tavernier and other youngsters besides. The perception is firmly in the public domain that Newcastle are once again a selling club, as we were in the days of Waddle, Beardsley and Gazza prior to an extended stay in the wilderness of the 2nd division.
The owner on the other hand will see a profit this year, already projected to be in the region of £15-20 million, now boosted by a further £35m plus add ons. Around half of his loans to the club can be repaid should he so choose.
Thankfully, this team is only a couple of wins away from safety this season. That may have been a part of the equation in accepting the deal and transfer request. It remains a sad day when, contrary to the club statement in June 2010, a local lad feels he has to move away from his home club to get a decent career.
After the supporters were ignored in their campaign of the January 2009 window, many will feel that today`s proceedings leave a stench. Perhaps Pardew should have banged harder on the door, so that it opened to let the stench out. Carroll seems to have slipped out of the back door, according to his Twitter friends, whilst Pardew was at the front, or was it the other way round?
The manager, in his silence, has now become a part of the apparent deceit of the supporters. The club`s words of June 2010, about home grown talent not having to leave, seem terribly hollow.
Date:Monday January 31 2011
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