After a season of maintaining their Premier League status the last thing that Newcastle fans wanted to hear about this summer was fresh turmoil at their club. But despite a raft of new arrivals, the headlines at the club have surrounded their stars criticising the owners and being on the verge of exits. On paper the probable departures of Joey Barton and Jose Enrique are a blow for Toon but will Newcastle be better off getting rid of the troublemakers?
Despite being an established name in English football, Newcastle are still seeking another season of top-flight security after a rough couple of years that included relegation. Last season’s 12th placed finish was a reasonable success for a side whose best players included Barton, Enrique, Kevin Nolan and up until his January departure, Andy Carroll. It is unfortunate that all four have either moved on or look close to the exit door but in order to maintain and develop Newcastle’s Premier League status, boss Alan Pardew needs to build a team of players who want to be at the club. Troublemakers are too much of a risky business for mid-table teams who with one bad run could dip into the relegation places.
Enrique and Barton’s decisions to criticise the owners and club on Twitter has lead to an immediate backlash, with Barton made available on a free whilst Spanish defender Enrique also looks set to leave for the right price. There is no doubt that on the pitch both players improve Newcastle, Barton’s combative displays often inspired his team to victories whilst Enrique’s consistent performances offered stability in the defence. I am not a great fan of Mike Ashley but his decision to take a zero tolerance approach on both players’ troublemaking antics may prove to be the best decision for Newcastle in the long term.
Publishing their criticisms of the club on a public platform threatens to cause unrest amongst the dressing room, staff and fans of a club that crave to get back to the top of English football. I don’t agree with Ashley’s decision to make Barton available on a free when surely another club would be willing to pay a small fee for a midfielder who enjoyed a very successful season last year but if suitable replacements for both can be found then maybe Newcastle are doing better business than first thought.
But by getting rid of Barton and Enrique Newcastle’s hierarchy risks missing the fine line between leader and troublemaker. Every dressing room contains strong personalities that could divide the team but often drive them forward. The departures of both Nolan and Carroll earlier this year are another two ‘big personalities’ that have now left the club and if Enrique and Barton do leave before the start of the new season, Newcastle risk having a no influential figures on the pitch.
Newcastle’s owners are taking a huge risk in getting rid of some of their best players (especially if they move to Premier League rivals). In the search for stability Newcastle will no doubt miss the footballing skills of Barton and Enrique but the club need players committed to the cause. Both showed a lack of judgment in voicing concerns on Twitter and Newcastle might be better served for the future if they get rid of potential troublemakers now before they turn into liabilities on the pitch.
Are Newcastle right to get rid of Barton and Enrique? If you want to read more of my bite size, 140 character views and thoughts follow me on Twitter @jennyk5