The summer was a bit a car crash in all honesty. In fact its probably best to define it as “crash, bang, wallop.”
Crash as Jose Enrique left for Liverpool. Bang went Kevin Nolan to recently relegated West Ham. Wallop went Joey Barton to newly promoted Queens Park Rangers. On top of the departure of Andy Carroll in January you can perhaps see why the outlook was gloomy amongst NUFC fans.
However out of the gloom there has appeared a glimmer of hope. An inkling that perhaps all isn’t as bad as was first feared and that, maybe, the decisions to let those players go weren’t so bad after all.
Kevin Nolan scored some important goals for us whilst he was with us, but once Andy Carroll went so did Captain Tugboat’s importance to the team in my view. A return of three goals post Carroll along with a dwindling influence on the team has left me not actually missing Nolan at all.
In hindsight that is….
Yohan Cabaye is a marked improvement on Nolan, even at this early juncture of his NUFC career. We’ve replaced Nolan with a complete midfielder who will work box to box for the team. He may not score as many as Nolan, but his contribution to the team should not be underestimated and Cabaye allows others to go about their jobs instead.
Joey Barton epitomised the Newcastle spirit from the last couple of seasons. He wore his heart on his sleeve and gave his all on the pitch which is all you could ask for. However that spilled over onto Twitter and he soon found himself ostracised from the first team. You can’t criticise your employers and accuse the club of a lack of ambition based in their summer signings when, quite frankly, some of these new players have an honour list that Barton would never ever be capable of achieving.
Anyway, whatever the circumstance Joey was soon off to a new club. It wasn’t the top four club himself and his agent insisted that Barton would be destined for and instead he signed a new lucrative deal at QPR which would ensure a pay rise for the Scouser. Fair enough, although in fairness he is the player that I thought we’d miss the most, even though it turns out that he doesn’t actually miss Newcastle on the basis of him pretty much constantly tweeting how amazing London is.
In hindsight perhaps not. Gabriel Obertan has come into the team and is steadily showing his worth to the club after a summer move from Manchester United. Granted it’s still early days, but I’ve seen enough of Obertan to work out that he has more to his game than Barton did. Pace for one, end product is another. Just because Gabby doesn’t beat his chest it doesn’t mean that he can’t do a job. In my opinion he is doing just fine.
Jose Enrique wanted out for ages. It was abundantly clear for months, so much so that I wasn’t even surprised when he toddled off to Liverpool with Champions League and international aspirations. Still uncapped for Spain, still without a call up in fact, the Spaniard is finding life tough at Anfield. Gone are the glittering performances that he put in for us which is perhaps a sign of not having such a willing worker in front of him like, say, a Jonas Gutierrez maybe?
To be honest this is the big question mark for me. If Davide Santon can show the potential that undoubtedly possesses then I have no worries about us having a suitable replacement for Jose Enrique. Time will tell on that one, but I’m quietly confident.
We can even go back a bit further. Look at Andy Carroll for example. We may not have replaced his battering ram style play, but we could well have stumbled across a replacement for his goals. Demba Ba has a record that, quite frankly, rapes Andy Carroll’s. Granted Carroll is young, but I really can’t see him having a 1 in 2 goal record in four years time.
We’ve replaced a more direct style with a style that is more fluent, more pleasing on the eye, and is getting results on the pitch and we’ve replaced older players with better ones who look to offer more to the team.
Would we have been a better team had all of those players stayed? Undoubtedly. Are we any worse off without them though? To me the answer to that is a big, fat, resounding no.
It’s still early but, perhaps in hidnsight, the summer wasn’t so bad after all?« NUFC keen to tie down Captain Colo | Santon starts for reserves »