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No Doom And Gloom For The Toon – Perspective

Andy Who? Focus on Pardew and NUFC!

Monday was a bad day for the Geordies, it was like finding out the girl you’re deeply in love with has ran away into the arms of another man and never truly loved you anyway. It would be impossible to sum up a collective reaction of the Toon Army to the news, as people seemed more confused (not unusual for Newcastle fans under Ashley) than anything else. Andy Carroll – our prized possession, who apparently wasn’t feeling the same loyalty and love for his home region on Monday, had jumped ship at the first opportunity. There are a number of confounding stories out there on how this came to be, you only need to ask a cross section of Toon fans to find that they’ll all give you a different account of why Carroll left, but it is becoming generally accepted that it was a deal that suited all parties. Newcastle would always be happy to cash in (to be fair, £35m for a guy who is good at heading a ball is an amazing deal) and Carroll, who demanded an improved contract on the one he only signed in November, was keen to earn big money. For such a deal, Newcastle fans may have been more accepting had the timing not been so frustrating as no replacement was forthcoming and the clubs resources now look stretched. But much like being dumped by a girl you’re deeply in love with, there are two options you can take. You can sulk all you like, accepting the tragedy of what has happened or you can be positive – playing the cards you’ve been dealt.

We loved Andy Carroll, it’s true, but in the space of 24 hours, that love has turned to hate. And although there was a sense of panic and depression felt by the fans on the Tuesday after Carroll’s switch, the spirit and the belief of the Toon Army appears to be intact. Carroll was a great player for us, but we never felt like a one man team. The previous four games before the disappointing performance at Fulham saw Newcastle grab two victories and two draws and in truth those two ties should have ended up as victories. The team was playing well regardless of Carroll being there or not and although there is less security thinking that Carroll will at some point return to the side, the fans are aware that their side can perform to a high level and match anyone on their day. As well as this, Newcastle have been suffering with injuries to key players all season, particularly that of marquee signing Hatem Ben Arfa who has now signed to the club permanently and could be crucial to survival hopes when he returns in March. Dan  Gosling made a late cameo against Sunderland before having a slight reoccurrence of his knee injury and fans are interested to see what he can offer the team. Cheick Tiote has also just served his three match suspension after his dubious red card against Stevenage and it will be a massive boost to have him back in midfield after he has offered so much to the club this season. Truth be told – Newcastle have had to overcome a lot of difficult moments this season, but they’ve done it. If you had told any supporter that they could be on 30 points in 10th place on this date, they would have bitten your hand off! Survival is the goal this season and the side (Carroll or no Carroll) have proven that they are capable of accomplishing that.

The question has already been raised by the ever generic British pundit union as to “where will the goals come from now”, but you’d think that these “experts” had forgotten that there were 10 other players on the pitch when Carroll was in a Newcastle shirt. Newcastle have had eight different scorers in the league this season and many seem to forget that one goal behind Carroll in the top scorers chart is Kevin Nolan with 10 goals to his name. The strange thing about Kevin Nolan is that you don’t seem to recognise him for most of the game, yet he just seems to be in the right place at the right time and gets the goals the team needs. Losing Ameobi to injury is a blow, but in recent games Leon Best has worked hard and Lovenkrands should be hungry to impress and establish himself back in the first team. Not exactly world beaters, but I don’t think that enough credit went to the Newcastle midfield for all the work they did for Carroll. Joey Barton has been the best English midfielder in the league this season, and although he may not be “marketable” enough to get in the England squad (which I suspect is part of the reason that Carroll’s fee was so high), and I’m sure he can provide the same service to whoever else is up top. When Barton plays well, Newcastle play well.

The £35m fee alone has been questioned by many and most Newcastle fans will tell you that Carroll is nowhere near worth that, as much as we loved him. He was great for us and brilliant at heading the ball, but he is still a very unfinished article and is still unproven at the top level. It annoyed me somewhat that Sky Sports News had Iain Dowie and Tony Cascarino on transfer deadline day claiming that Liverpool we getting a “proven goal scorer” and he was worth it “in this climate”. Carroll has had one good season in the Championship and half a good season in the Premier League; I wouldn’t want to pay that figure for someone like that. Carroll could be a great player, but the word there is “could”. I see Inter Milan signing Giampaolo Pazzini for about £8m, David Villa joining Barcelona for about £30m and Mario Balotelli (young player of the year, by the way) joining the usually ripped off Man City for £24m and it begs the question, will Carroll ever be able to repay such a massive fee? In truth, Newcastle have got a figure beyond their wildest dreams for a 22 year old that came from their own youth academy. £35m is not the end of it either, as it is believed that there are other clauses that could take the overall figure past £40m+ with an added sell on clause. BIG money for a team that is trying to reduce its debt.

The Toon fans still feel caution over this however, as they wonder how much of this £35m their beloved owner will stick on black at the local Aspers Casino. Alan Pardew has tried to reassure all that the money will be used in the summer to strengthen the team, but did let slip that this will be available for both wages and transfer money. Many Newcastle fans, from understandable experience, have already written off this claim and believe that the club will see very little being reinvested to strengthen the squad, although in my new found optimistic mood, I will reserve judgement until the summer comes about. In the mean time, it is important that the club ties down Joey Barton and Jose Enrique to new long term contracts, as both are adored by the fans and have been crucial to the side’s recent success. Joey Barton himself has said that he wants to end his career in the North East and with the form he has been in, no Toon fan will complain about that.

So should we be negative? Maybe a bit that we’ve lost our prize asset, but truth be told we have a hell of a lot more money than he is worth. We have a number of key players coming back from injury. We are in a good position to achieve survival in our first season after being promoted. We have a lot of promising youth players coming through our academy (who we will now set the bar at £35m for – each). I’m not too worried, I know our striking options are limited at the moment but any Newcastle fans know that we were not a one man team with Carroll in the side and the other players in the squad deserve a lot more credit. A bad performance against Fulham, sure, but the team has had those games this season, even when Carroll has been in the side. It’s time to forget about Carroll, any focus on the loss of him downplays the impact the other players have had and all the Toon army need to focus on right now is their own side’s hopes and remaining games this season. Unlike our former No.9, let’s show some faith in our team!

Follow me on Twitter: @Clusks

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  1. Bruce Gottesman

    February 4, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    The only good news is that a) there are more than 3 sides worse than Newcastle this year, and b) replacing Carroll will not cost 35 million pounds. This doesn’t mean that the next 4 months won’t be nervewracking…

    • Rob McCluskey

      February 4, 2011 at 8:39 pm

      Very true, the quicker the team get those three wins on the board, the better. We can get a much cheaper replacement in from abroad, and to be honest it may mean that we change our style from just lumping the ball up to Carroll…

  2. Tony

    February 4, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    Great write up but it makes less sense when you consider the last minute bid for Charles N’Zogbia (SP?)

    • Rob McCluskey

      February 4, 2011 at 5:36 pm

      The belief in Newcastle is that was merely a token gesture to show that the club actually attempting to spend some of the money to reassure the fans, which is why it was so easily leaked (Newcastle also attempted for Jason Puncheon which Sky Sports didn’t seem to pick up on – could have done with him!).

      Toon should announce the signing of Jeremie Aliadiere pretty soon, as he is on a free transfer. Not exactly Carroll’s replacement (reckon it will be a 6 month deal with option of an extra year + deal) but will provide bodies. Shame we didn’t get anyone in but that’s the way it is, need to have faith that this team, which has a fantastic harmony, can keep us up!

  3. R2Dad

    February 4, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    This summer will be an excellent opportunity for ownership and management to show what they are made of. I have no doubt they will stay up, and I’m not a Newcastle supporter. Fans should expect several things going forward: 1) their dbag owner should stop playing at the tables–it’s embarrassing really, since anything he loses will be attributed to his bad judgment. 2) some of that 35M should go to pay down debt. maybe 5-10M, but no more. 3) 10-20M should be spent on players–ideally wages, since transfer fees are wasteful and plenty of players are available on loan (as Rob mentions) and on a free at the end of their contracts. 4) ownership/management should be asking themselves, “What kind of football do we want to play?”, and not just buying up talent for talent’s sake. They should be looking for pieces of the puzzle. If the Newcastle summer signings are inappropriate/wasteful, the Ashley years may be poor indeed.

    • Rob McCluskey

      February 4, 2011 at 5:31 pm

      Agree, although I think that money will be all be used on transfers and instead the TV money/prize money will be used on the debt reduction – Newcastle do need to reduce their debt though! I think Ashley and the board relies on the manager to bring in new talent, a lot of players through Hughton were brought in that were questionable (Perch for example) but it’ll be interesting to see who Pardew wants to bring in. I think we’ll stay up. The thing is, this money really does have to go back into the club to restore a bit of faith in the hierarchy, I believe it will be though, they said we’d never spend anything in the Championship and Ashley did put a bit of money forward.

  4. toonarmy

    February 4, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    I am actually very excited to see Nile Ranger and Leon Best get more playing time.

    Joey Barton has been massive this season, he deserves an England call up.

    • Rob McCluskey

      February 4, 2011 at 5:40 pm

      Nile Ranger is great in the reserves, think he is quite nervous in the first team though, I think if he gets one goal he will get a lot of confidence, but against Fulham he was a bit non-existant!

  5. Adam

    February 4, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    Doom and gloom and Toon Supporter go together hand and hand, no?

    Anyway, I really want to move on past all of this but the last part of this saga has yet to be written and will not be written until the end of the season when we will see if Newcastle can avoid the drop. Then we have to wait and see how this money is spent by the club. I have seen several links already on players and if spent/ reinvest correctly the 35mil+ could revolutionize the club truth be told.

    One thing that has bothered me and continues to bother me, since all this has gone down it has come out that Andy is still going to be out with his thigh injury for another month or so. Surely the club has known this. With some of the strikers that have gone out on loan in the Winter Window- why was Newcastle not all over a loan deal for Daniel Sturridge, Robbie Keane, or anyone else? Speaks volumes really.

    Also very good point about Joey Barton and agreed 100%. I hope Nolan and Best/ Ranger/ Lovenkrands can find the chemistry that Nolan had with Andy. Mixed results so far.

    • Rob McCluskey

      February 4, 2011 at 12:14 pm

      It’s a good point, although I think the form of Best made them reconsider (obviously because Ashley doesn’t want to splash out – although a loan signing would have been ideal for us). I imagine the deal for Keane would have been more to do with wages, as well as ‘Arry not having his way with his bid for Andy Carroll.

      The problem with Best so far is that we seem to be asking him to run the line a lot of the time, he’s been doing it quite well but I’d like to see him up front and flicking on to Lovenkrands instead.

      I’ve seen Hulk’s name mentioned – that would be a great move for the club. I think we can still stay up, we play a lot of the teams around us so it’s all in our own hands, speaking to some Toon fans they all agree that three more wins will be good for our safety, it is so tight at the bottom though that it is hard to tell!

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