Strange goings on at Newcastle United are nothing new as anyone who can remember Kevin Keegan’s impression of a badger with rabies, whilst cracking under pressure to the king of mind games that is Alex Ferguson during the 1996 title race can testify. But this great club has been one of the star players of the soap opera that is the Premier League since Mike Ashley took over in 2007.
The sale of Kevin Nolan to West Ham for £4m is the latest in a long line of bizarre decisions that Mike Ashley has over seen in his time at the club. Nolan was the top scoring English midfielder in the Premiership last season with 12 goals. Its claimed he wanted a 5-year contract, which the club were reluctant to give him so sold him on to the newly relegated Hammers. Nolan’s sale along with that of Andy Carroll to Liverpool in January has shown a complete lack of ambition from the club that finished four points behind champions Manchester United in the afore mentioned 1995/96 season.
Since Ashley took over in 2007 he has had 6 managers working under him, Sam Allardyce, Kevin Keegan, Joe Kinnear (the most bizarre considering he had a dodgy ticker and hadn’t managed a club since leaving Forest for health reasons in 2004), Alan Shearer, a man with no previous management experience, on the basis he was once a good footballer, so therefore must make a great manager (Tony Adams or John Barnes anyone?), Chris Hughton and Alan Pardew. This is a dangerous precedent to set as clubs who go through a lot of managers tend to find themselves out of the premier league and stuck in the middle echelons of the football pyramid as Crystal Palace, Southampton and Leicester City fans well know.
Only time will tell how Newcastle will do in next season’s premiership. Fans however aren’t happy with the sales of Carroll and Nolan and part time footballer and full time thug(lately the vice-versa) Joey Barton has voiced growing concerns amongst the players about the club’s lack of ambition, hinting that Jonas Gutierrez and Fabio Coloccini could be next to find pastures new. Barton who was Newcastle’s best player last season also looks like he’ll be leaving as he’s out of contract next year and the club would rather cash in on him then lose the player for nothing.
The signing of Demba Ba could prove to be an astute addition to a lightweight strike force , if he can recreate his form at West Ham, where he scored seven goals in 12 games and he could go someway to finally replacing Carroll.
By Matthew Post