The sun is shining, I’m basking in Mediterranean temperatures on my week off work, I’m out for beers later with Marktoon (he assures me he will buy a round!), I’m going to be a Dad, and the football club I love seems to be ticking along rather nicely.
Out of all of that perhaps the most surprising thing is that Marktoon will be buying a round. Just kidding. Actually I think the most surprising thing is that Newcastle United seem to sailing rather smoothly. The results are stacking up and the performances are getting there, and along with that there seems to be a fantastic spirit and camaraderie amongst our new players.
One by one they have taken turns to talk about how fantastic life is at NUFC at the moment. From Captain Colo to Dreamboat Cabaye to Spiderman Jonas to Oooh Ahh Demba Ba, most of our players have taken a turn in the media to praise each other, the club, and the team spirit that has been formed rather quickly considering the summer of change that ended up taking place.
What can we glean from that though? I mean we have a group of players who hardly know each other and yet it seems as though they’ve managed to bond straight away. Cutting to the chase, would this have been possible with the likes of Joey Barton or Kevin Nolan still in the ranks?
Personally I don’t think it would have been. A lot has been made of the influence of those two players, but is it not possible that perhaps they had too much influence? Too much of a handle on the dressing room? Were they too vocal for their own good?
In a way it’s kind of a moot point as there is no way that Nolan would have got into our team and I think Barton may have ended up struggling aswell in the long run had they both stayed. Neither of them would have been happy with that so they would obviously be a bit upset about it. However presume that they were still here. What would it be like?
Well to gauge that I guess we have to look at the form book. First off there is Kevin Nolan who liked to paint a picture of being Mr Newcastle. He was important in the dressing room and even tried his hand at transfer dealings when he helped to sway Andy Carroll to Liverpool. I’ll never forgive Captain Fantastic for appearing on Liverpool TV and telling the bindipping nation how he’d told Carroll what a great club Liverpool is and how he’ll be a fantastic player for them and so on.
Anyway I’m ranting. Back to his importance. Could it be that his importance could have stifled the rest of the group. If you have one dominant player then the rest don’t get a chance to flourish or come into their own. I think the removal of Nolan has allowed for others to step up to the plate but perhaps in a different, more quiet, more assuming way.
Then there is Joey Barton. I have no doubt that if he’d have stayed he would have put in 100% effort on the pitch, but off the pitch I’m unsure that he would have been such a fantastic influence. We saw how he spat the dummy ahead of the Leeds game because Yohan Cabaye was tasked with corner kicks. That wasn’t good enough for this team player and he resorted to Twitter to air his grievances.
Whatever the complexities or the rights and wrongs, I sincerely believe that we wouldn’t have this stability, this rebirth of a new, more equal, team spirit amongst the players with both Nolan and Barton in the ranks meddling with things. Perhaps the loss of these two strong characters has been good for the dressing room? On the evidence supplied by the members of it it’s pretty hard to argue against that.
Are we better off without Barton and Nolan in the dressing room?