Date:Friday February 4 2011
A few days on, and with the Sunday press undoubtedly yet to report on the stories behind the story, TOTT tries to make sense of the Carroll debacle.
The media reports on the day would tend to suggest that the sale of Carroll was a last minute thing. Is this really feasible? Perhaps a clue is that the Sun were ready to roll on the morning of transfer deadline day, with a story of a £30million bid and an offer to triple Carroll`s wages.
Both Carroll and the club have had something to say, Carroll that he was forced out, and the "club" pointing to very reluctantly accepting his transfer request. Pardew stressed that Carroll didn`t have to get on the helicopter, whilst the club-friendly media fail to point out that Ashley did not have to provide his chopper to a player whose manager emphatically stated from December onwards who was not for sale.
All sides seem to seek to draw a line under the situation. Carroll is gone. Pardew emphatically says that Carroll is not here, Carroll`s Liverpool press conference has their club officials stunting the journalists` questions. Club captain, Kevin Nolan has urged moving ahead, whilst the "club" in the form of Chairman Llambias deflected attention by attacking Newcastle`s modern legend, Alan Shearer.
Yes it is true that Shearer`s 8 games in charge yielded 5 points, but a relegation season is 38 games long. The Chairman was responsible for running the club for 38 games, not just 8. In that time, he was responsible for the dealings that led to Keegan`s successful claim for constructive dismissal, the tribunal highlighting club statements that were "untrue", and that there was a "repudiation of contract".
The long and the short of it is that the Chairman was responsible for the circumstances of the constructive dismissal, the appointment of a caretaker, the further appointment of another manager with a history of heart problems, who then suffered another heart problem, plus a further caretaker appointment in the 30 games before Shearer.
Shearer has scored over 200 goals for the club. Llambias is on his way towards 200 managerial appointments, which raises the question of the dismissal of Hughton. Hughton`s achievements are well documented on TOTT. The summary version is that he has the highest win ratio of any manager in Newcastle history, in what is a venerable list.
There would seem to be few who would suggest that Hughton was less than dignified, and had united a disparate squad towards a common goal. Questions may be asked as to whether Hughton`s modern democratic style of management was in fact in conflict with the aims of the club. Hughton`s distinguished football career as a player, as well as a coach under a catalogue of English national managers, qualifies him as a true football person and team player.
Would Carroll have left if Hughton was still manager?
From Pardew`s account of the final day, he seems to have done little to stop the transfer request. It will be remembered, however, that he repeatedly said in recorded conversations, that Carroll was not for sale, that he was going nowhere at any price. Carroll has been sold, he has gone.
It seems reasonable to assume that if Hughton were still in charge, the conversation might have been longer than Pardew`s appears to have been, according to Pardew`s own account. It is conjecture, but perhaps the team spirit might have been emphasised. Perhaps the reasons that Carroll had been a success in this club might have been outlined, along with the opportunity to revisit the contract situation in the summer.
Financially, Carroll does benefit from the deal. There are two others who have also gained advantage, Ashley and Carroll`s agent. £35million is a huge figure, as no doubt is Carroll`s new wage. A percentage of that is also potentially huge.
It does not demean the player to note that he is young. His talent is clearly in his endeavour, enthusiasm, energy and contribution on the field. People will form their own judgements as to how astute he might be to the ways of the world off the field. Could it be that he was set up by those around him with much to gain?
There will be no investigation as to whether Premier League rules were breached about approaches through the media, since the person to make the complaint is now £35million richer.
The issue of who got onto the helicopter and who provided the helicopter has already been covered. Who signed the transfer request and who accepted the offer is the same issue. What are the long term implications?
The club has been a reflection of the local population in the past. Traditionally, this has consisted of a hard working set of players with a large input from local talent. The number 9 shirt is renowned, welcoming of players from outside the region, such as Supermac, Cole, Ferdinand, Keeble and many others. The true legends are local lads, such as Milburn, Shearer and it could have been Carroll.
In years to come, the leading protagonist may well reflect that, like others before him, he has made the journey away. He will make a fortune. With a 5 year contract, he may never return. When his playing days are over, Andy may well reflect that he was a hero for a season and a half. He may never become a local legend. Realistically, if he succeeds, he will go down in Anflied folklore among a catalogue of other non-Merseysiders, maybe even progress to the top sides in Europe, but the 200 goals for his home team are unlikely to ever be achieved.
Although a big figure, commercially Carroll may never be as big as he could have been playing for Newcastle. The £35million could have been dwarfed by commercial income as a Geordie playing for Geordies. In the short term, his fee only just about covers the loss of being relegated for a season, increasingly a possibility with the absence of the perennial support striker, Ameobi.
This also sends a message, not just within the club, but to the rest of the football world. Every player has a price, Newcastle United is a feeder club, producing talent that can be bought, whether players come from locally, or from overseas using us as a gateway to the riches of the Premier League. What happens to Enrique, Coloccini, Barton, Nolan, Steve Taylor, Jonas, Tiote and others at the end of the season or in other windows?
The message to the supporters is that we can not expect to challenge for trophies, we are merely a commercial vehicle. Stability, either with players or management, is not desired as a platform for success, the churning of players to make a profit appears to be the aim.
There is quality, if not balance, in the squad. Sadly the depth is not there. The message for quality players is that the club does not want them for the long term. A big enough fee will ensure a transfer to a club with genuine ambition.
If Ashley and his bokkies' runners hang around, they will see a dent in gate revenue, although the figures will show that provided the club turns free, or cheap talent into commodities, there is profit to be made in that direction.
The saddest thing is that the identity of the region has always been reflected by the Tyneside club. This move signals the death of traditional Geordie values, a vibrancy on the field with local talent, a work ethic, a focus for local emotion. Ashley`s Newcastle makes us no more than a feeder club.
Yes, Llambias, Ashley, Pardew and even the team captain can want a line drawn under the issue. The people who love the club, the supporters, have every right to mourn the passing of a heritage for as long as we wish. We have even more right to be angry.
Date:Friday February 4 2011
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