With the news that Steve Harper has joined Brighton on a month long loan deal it raises the question: have we got rid of the old guard?
Harper along with Kevin Nolan and Joey Barton have all departed the club in one form or another over the last few months.
With them firmly out of the picture it has allowed Alan Pardew to build his own foundations of a classy team which has been evident throughout the nine games we have played. The old guard has been replaced with the French revolution and this has certainly seemed to pay dividends for the Toon.
It seemed that when the likes of Nolan and Co were around there was a sense of clique within the team. They were very much the ones who spoke out with any decisions that Mike Ashley made last season. I for one feel that with the likes of Nolan and Barton gone the team actually has players who are really playing for their manager. You can see that in the games that we have played, they truly want to give their all whenever they pull on a black and white shirt.
There would of always been the attitude from Kevin Nolan and Joey Barton that Chris Hughton should still be at the club and so on. They were huge supporters of his methods and very publicly spoke out after our 3-1 win over Liverpool at St James’ Park; with them gone Pardew has been able to build his own side with players that understand his motives and the ambitions he has for our club.
Now I’m not saying I’m glad that Harper has left, albeit for only a short period of time, but it signals to me that he is going to find his opportunities at the club very limited. Does that signal the end for him? I think it would be a shame if that was the case as he has been a huge servant for us over a number of seasons and was an understudy to Shay Given for such a long time. I would like to see perhaps Harper to stay around in the club perhaps in a goalkeeping coaching capacity to offer his valuable experiences to the goalkeepers we have at the club.
The squad seems to be in a much better dimension than it has been ever before, there is a definite determination not to give up even when we have been outplayed. The team spirit has been very clearly demonstrated throughout and this current crop of players really know what it means to play in a black and white shirt.
The remnants of the old guard appear to have been dismantled, the revolution under Alan Pardew is truly under way and it bodes very well for the future.