OK, let’s get the bad news over with first. Newcastle United were relegated from the EPL yesterday afternoon. Unlike a number of fans I had no great belief that they would get out of the relegation zone prior to the last match, and yet, in the immediate aftermath of the game, the feeling of disappointment was still tangible. Having had time to reflect, those feelings of anticlimax, of let down, of disbelief have crystalised and taken on a new perspective. Not so much over the fact that the club were relegated, but more in the manner in which they were relegated.
Yesterday’s game summed up so much of not just this past season, but the last three or four seasons. The desperate, last ditch, disorganised rabble of a defence. Take a look at the 1000 yard stare in the shell shocked eyes of Fabricio Coloccini, the confusion of Kevin Nolans head twisting like an owl as he tries to work out who to mark at a corner. See the midfield, lacking drive, ambition, guile, bite. When Nicky Butt is your best player, you have problems. Take a peak at the strikers, struggling to feed off scraps, not making any runs with purpose, snatching at half chances. When Shola Ameobi is thrown on, a man who appears to have been constructed entirely of knees and elbows, it’s pretty much an admission of defeat. There was no art, no craft, no creativity, no drive, no urgency, no sense that there would be a goal at any time. Worst of all there appeared to be no belief and most damningly, no passion. It was a bit like watching Scotland.
Dropping down to the Championship may, just may, be a good thing for Newcastle. A chance to take stock, a reality check, the kick in the head wake up call the heirarchy needs. Some tough choices need to be made. It’s well known that Mike Ashley wants to sell the club. However, it’s a tough economic climate out there, no-one seems willing to invest overly at the moment. The club has just been relegated, has significant debt, he’s given a two year contract to a manager with a dicky ticker. Who want’s to inherit that? A new owner, will want to bring in their own management team. The squad just isn’t good enough, it is aging, lacks depth in a number of positions, lacks flair, lacks pace and seemingly passion. Who are the saleable assets? Difficult to see really. Of the bodies involved yesterday:
Steve Harper – will probably stay. He’s waited years to be the number one, won’t be keen to be a number two elsewhere, plus he’s solid, and we’ll need a solid keeper next season.
Fabricio Coloccini – often looked lost, didn’t seem to cope with the pace and tempo of the games. Probably be buyers for him on the continent, he is an Argentine international after all
Steven Taylor – One player who did look like he was trying, still makes too many mistakes, will probably be around to try and get the club back up
David Edgar – might actually benefit from the drop. He just doesn’t look good enough for Premiership level
Damien Duff – has done well and tried hard as an emergency left back, but his days of being a threat are long gone. Don’t see many takers for him though.
Danny Guthrie – lacking confidence and class, he’s a grinder in midfield, young so may improve.
Kevin Nolan – seems to have been something of a panic buy, hasn’t been the player he was at Bolton. No takers.
Michael Owen – out of contract, not likely to resign, there’ll be a club somewhere willing to take him on. He’s looked well past his sell by date, but there may be something to the theory that surrounded by better players he could contribute.
Nicky Butt – been the best player at the club all season. If not sold, he should be skipper next season.
Peter Lovenkrands – signed for nothing, will be let go for nothing. He’s just not done anything
Jose Enrique – can’t see many takers for Jose, has shown moments of his ability potential, but is likely to be back in Spain on a cut price deal.
Mark Viduka – the big man is finished. Although, strangely, I think his pylon like abilities could make him a key player in the Championship.
Shola Ameobi – should be let go. Like Viduka he’s a big target man, with a physical presence. Unlike Viduka, the ball pings off him all the time, he barely seems able to control his limbs, never mind the ball.
Obafemi Martins – A luxury player we can’t afford. He won’t stick around, and would be ideally suited to a bigger club where he can sit on the bench as an impact player.
Tim Krul – likely to be number two to Harper
Alan Smith – another who has had too many injuries. Big money contract means he’ll be a difficult sell,
Jonas Gutierrez – may not want to play at Championship level, has shown a lot of effort but no real production likely to end up back in Spain
Ryan Taylor – seems to have been a throw in for the N’Zogbia deal.
Joey Barton – who exactly will want him??
Habib Beye – hopefully he’ll stick around.
Ashley has apparantly spent £250 million of his money on Newcastle already. He won’t be able to sell the club for that in it’s current state. What does he do? Sell for what he can get and take the loss, or invest more in retooling the squad, getting the club back into the Premiership thus increasing it’s value? He may even discover a love for the club.
Of course, we’ll struggle to attract much in the way of decent quality through the doors. Much as the jury is still out on Shearer’s abilities as a manager, he’s the only person who will have an leeway from the fans in terms of being given the time to rebuild the squad. Joe Kinnear certainly won’t get that, although he might have a role to play as an advisor, he should be let go. Shearer is also liable to have a bit more cachet with agents and players than Kinnear in terms of getting them to play at SJP. I don’t see the club bouncing back at the first attempt, I just hope they don’t implode like Leeds did. We don’t have the core of young saleable assets Leeds had, but we have got the Dennis Wise episode out of the way already!
Seem’s everyone is watching Britian’s Got Talent. My family do, I try to avoid it, but one thing about it got my goat on Saturday night. It was the last of the “audition” shows. Where several people got voted through to “the next round”. This next round seemed to consist of shipping two hundred and odd people down to London, only to spend the day waiting around, to be told to piss off home again as they hadn’t made the semi finals. What?? Basically anyone shown in the final audition show got two minutes of exposure before disappearing, whilst everyone from the earlier shows has had at least a week of media hype. Or in the case of Susan fucking Boyle, far too bloody much hype. Why not have a rundown of the “Yesses” after each show, and give Joe Public a week to vote on them, the top 5 vote getters over each of the ten weeks get to make the 50 semi finalists….Cowell, you’d earn even more from the phone votes. Of course, I’d like a cut for the idea!!
My significant other watches those property shows. The ones where ‘experts’ meet a couple, hunt down some properties and show them around. They never have anyone on them whose budget is less than £250,000. Just once, i’d like to see them deal in the real world, with £90k to spend on a fixer upper…..plus there’s the fact that no-one ever actually buys any of the houses they view either. It must be great for the house owners, they get a camera crew and a bunch of strangers tromp round their house, sealing it off from genuine potential buyers, they know these people won’t be making an offer let alone buying, then a few weeks later they get to watch as their sense of design and decor are ripped to shreds by a couple of tyre kicking snobs on a jolly, who want their friends/colleagues/former school mates to know exactly how much money they have.