THIS STOPS ME FROM COMITTING SUICIDE BECAUSE…….once you start supporting Newcastle, you cannot get out.
[Guest Writer: © Robb Dylan 2011]
[For full, unedited version: http://robbdylanc.wordpress.com]
Why Newcastle United’s season is a cause for grief as well as celebration
As we come down to the final weekend of the 2010/2011 Barclay’s Premier League, I find myself somewhat nostalgic when looking at the table. My team, the Magpies, are sitting 12th, comfortably above the relegation zone.
A year out of the top flight and here we are, safely back in the mid-table. Some would condescendingly point out how fantastic an achievement that is, to finish so high up immediately after promotion, and yes, I agree 12th is good; at least we’re not being relegated like West Ham – who finally get what has been coming for them since the Tévez débâcle.
However, at the same time I am torn between satisfaction and disappointment. The two biggest moments off the pitch for us have undoubtedly been the sacking of Chris Hughton and the departure of Andy Carroll, events that I believe are interlinked. Carroll got his big break under Hughton’s management, playing regularly in both the Championship and the Prem and having the team effectively moulded around his aerial presence, as the cheeky 1-0 win at Arsenal will testify. But when the manager went, Carroll’s inspiration went, and eventually he himself went.
Now, though £35million is an excellent bargain for a largely inexperienced forward, I am still sore about losing him. Not only was he a local lad – yet another local lad to up and move south à la Shearer and Carrick – who quite possibly was cresting the pinnacle of his career at such a young age – a starter for his boyhood team and sporting the famous number 9 shirt – but he was supposed to be the future of our club. Whenever I say this, I can’t help but think of Obi Wan’s speech in “Star Wars: Episode III”: “You were the Chosen One! You were supposed to destroy the Sith, not join them…Bring balance to the Force, not leave it in darkness!” But it’s true, Carroll was the Chosen One to wear Wor Jackie’s jersey. Bring balance to the Top Four/Bring Newcastle back into the Top Four, not leave us in the darkness of mid-table.
The only bright side to Carroll’s departure, as everyone mentions, is the £35million. Once upon a time you could buy two or three world class players for that – you could get TWO Alan Shearers in his prime, Cheik Tioté, and have £1.5million to spare. But sadly, the modern day transfer market is suffering from insane inflation where players like Charlie Adam are valued at over £20million.
We have £35million from selling Carroll. Great, yeah? Well, sadly no. From what I’ve seen of Mike Cashley since he took over, my gut feeling is that, despite Pardew’s repeated claims that he will spend all the money on players in the summer, I would not be surprised if Fat Mike Cashley pocketed it.:
Then again, Pardew was his appointment, his London casino buddy; so will he back him? But this is the same owner who wanted to sell Newcastle TWICE, for about £300million or something – basically, for what he had bought it for and sunk into it. When no one would touch it, he had to hang on to his investment. Now that he’s made 10% of that money from one player, what is to stop the greedy scoundrel from putting that into his bank account to balance out the red?
In more ways than one, Mike Cashley was obligated to retain Chris Hughton as manager. Not only had he been given a three year contract, but the man was a young manager learning his profession and had taken the bogey-job of managing Newcastle by the horns and dragged us back, in some style, from a potential Leeds United situation back into the Premiership on the first attempt. He was sacked because Cashley wanted someone “with more managerial experience”. I shouldn’t think I would need to point out that Pardew’s managerial experience is confined largely to the lower leagues: promotion with West Ham VIA THE PLAY-OFFS as opposed to Hughton’s romp to the title, relegation with Charlton, and sackings from all his managerial posts. The only exception is Reading, whom he deserted.
It may be worth taking a look at Hughton’s league stats in comparison to Pardew’s this season (by the way, I’m giving the 3-1 win against Liverpool to Hughton as it was his training and tactics on display; Pardew had, to quote Joey Barton, “only been here two days”).
Hughton: P:17 W:6 L:7 D:4 GF:27 GA:26 GD:+1 Pts.:22 Win %: 35%
Pardew: P:20 W:5 L:7 D:8 GF:26 GA:28 GD:-2 Pts.:23 Win %: 25%
All in all, Pardew has basically done in 20 games what Hughton did in 17. The Londoner may have gotten one more point and fewer losses, but the Irishman got us another win and a better goal (and win) ration. Plus, we still had Carroll.
In short, their stats are very similar – though Hughton’s are slightly better – and I will admit that I am not as infuriated by the appointment of Pardew as Newcastle manager because he has kept us up. However, for me, the season’s success has been irreparably marred by the sacking of a wholly competent and exciting young manager who guided the club through the rough patches and brought confidence, dignity, and consistency to the team and club. Chris left us in 11th after gracing the heights of 4th a couple of weeks earlier and, within touching distance of 3rd. Pardew looks to be closing off the season at around the same mark. If we finish 8th, 9th, or 10th, we would be ‘more successful’ than when Pardew took over. But would it be worth it? Can we revel in a final position that Hughton’s stats suggest he would have obtained, perhaps even bettered with the presence of Andy Carroll? Yes we may have stayed up comfortably, and played some decent football, but the joy has to be tainted by the knowledge that it has come at the price of a manager and striker, two needless casualties in the pursuit (or loss) of a league position or two. And still we will have no extra glory – no silverware, no European competitions next year – just a sullied reputation as a club ruled by a tyrant too quick to fire when things don’t go his way.
So the question you must ask yourself in the end is, was it worth it? Was it worth halting the career of a young manager for one more meaningless position? Was it worth selling the club’s local hero for money that may or may not end up in the transfer kitty? Will that money even buy some competent strikers, or will it be wasted on mediocre players who come to the club overvalued and on excessively inflated wages?
Certainly for me, our finishing position is marred by the disgraceful sacking of Chris Hughton, though the new manager has done an acceptable job. As to the transfer kitty and Pardew’s future? We can only wait, hope, and see…