Summer 2011 was supposed to be one of excitement and incomings for Newcastle United. First on the agenda for Alan Pardew was to tie down three of his key players before embarking on recruitment drive with the instruction to turn the club into European contenders. He wanted Joey Barton, Jose Enrique and Kevin Nolan all tied down to new deals before dipping his toes into the transfer market
But, just like recent history dictates, nothing ever goes to plan with none of them even getting close to scribbling their initials on the contracts offered. Just Enrique and Barton remain with Nolan being jettisoned to West Ham in the blink of an eye, a decision that left fans divided and bewildered. It has been well documented that all three have demanded contracts that slip out of the clubs new boundaries.
The situation with Barton is getting out of hand. He should be bowing at the feet of St James’ Park and taking whatever the club offers after they gave him a second chance despite his time doing porridge. Simply put he owes Newcastle United and there is no way he can do better. Enrique on the other hand is a tricky one. He’s performed superbly over the last two years and wants to play in the Champions League. Despite this and the constant pleading for him to stay it would be in the best interests of the club to let him go, take the money and buy a replacement in a similar mould. We want players that wan
But what all of these players have in common is that they are all prepared to jump ship as soon as their requests aren’t met. The days of demanding top wages and holding the board to ransom are gone on Tyneside. Mike Ashley has implemented a new model and philosophy at the club that isn’t going to be changed – not even for the clubs captain!
Nolan is the worst of the lot. It’s easy to look at his goal record and completely ignore his lack of fitness, influence on games and inability to operate in the fast paced environment that is a Premier League midfield. Despite scoring 12 goals last season, including three against the Mackems, he was sold without a moment’s hesitation by Ashley with Pardew hardly putting up a fight to keep him at the club.
To me that speaks volumes. People forget that he still had two years to run on his contract, was picking up a cool £50,000 a week and just a few weeks earlier had professed his love for the club, the area and his pride at captaining the club. He didn’t have to leave the club but chose to drop down a division and sacrifice Premier League football for a hefty pay cheque.
For a 29 year old with declining on-field influence to demand a five-year contract is ludicrous! Although he did score goals for the club could have kept that up for the duration of his desired deal? The answer is no and fans need to remove the rose tinted glasses and smell the coffee when it comes to Nolan. You have to question his commitment and compare it to that of Cheick Tiote. He had the entire big four sniffing around only half a year after signing and yet penned a six-year deal committing himself to the club for the long haul.
In part some credit should go Ashley who is basing his decisions purely on business. Over the last year he has been spot on with his boardroom judgements. He does recognise when one of his employee’s deserves recognition for their achievements and when they are going to be come liabilities to both the team and club finances. Many fans might scoff at the thought of him doing good at the club. But what he set into motion after the relegation season has ultimately brought the club back to where it is. Working in tandem with Pardew has produced some surprising results.
The additions of Hatem Ben Arfa, Demba Ba, Yohan Cabaye and Marveaux can only be described as masterstrokes with only £10 million being spent to bring all four to the club. It now remains to be seen whether Barton and Enrique will sign on and help Ashley and co take the club to the next level.