‘Money is a superfluous entity’ declares Jose Enrique, the Newcastle United left back, whose performances this season have been solid and consistent. His nickname is ‘the bull’ and it is suitably apt due to his tendency to use his physical attributes when defending and rushing forward. He is no bull in a china shop though, he exudes confidence and composure that only a Spaniard possesses. By using the ball simply and effectively he has come to epitomise a Newcastle side that has bought shrewdly in the transfer market over the last few seasons. This contrasts sharply against the nostalgic times that saw an exuberance on Tyne Side with money being lavished on players such as Alan Shearer, David Ginola, Michael Owen and Albert Luque to name but a few.
The starting side that dispatched Sunderland last weekend with consummate ease, cost in total and roughly, a thrifty £35 million with the most expensive midfield player on the bench in the form of Alan Smith who cost £6 million. In a socially turbulent financial state that this country presently finds itself, Newcastle offer a glimpse at what can be realised given time and structural change.
It is as though previous regimes were caught up in the act of purchasing the brand and detailing their image through these players, but got caught up in the relentless demands for success and coupled with this was the lack of it, causing the downfall of this ideology. Newcastle’s position now couldn’t be more disparate, they’ve resigned those expensive fashionable garments to the far reaches of the wardrobe, opting instead to sift through well worn garments in order to portray a character, ideal and ultimately, save the coppers.
Enrique claims that, “We haven’t signed too many players or big-name players, look at Sunderland – they have spent a lot of money and we outclassed them 5-1.” To compensate for the lack of big money signings Enrique believes that another quality has given them their ability to succeed and this is the group camaraderie: “When new players come in and have been here for a month or so, it feels like two years because they are made so welcome. It’s a really important quality.”
These well worn garments are certainly returning what was paid for them and more so when you observe the likes of Manchester City buying brand name after brand name. These ostentatious displays of wealth, although gaining most tangible things, can’t obtain character and understanding; this requires a history together, to go through adversities and elations as one unit rather than one individual. Enrique recognizes this invaluable trait in saying that, “Most of us have been together for three seasons now so it is almost a second nature when we look up to each other for a pass.”
Chris Hughton must take a vast amount of credit for managing these players and drawing their abilities out into the open, unrestrained and playing for each other. We all remember the embarrassing fight between Kieron Dyer and Lee Bowyer which exemplified the divisions inherent within the team at the time. It all goes some way towards dispelling the myth that you have to spend big in order to win big, I’m not saying Newcastle will win anything this year but it is a promising foundation on which to build.