This striker cost us an intial £5.7m during the 2008-2009 campaign, a signing effectively made by Dennis Wise in his controversial role as Director of Football. It was a 5 year contract on a whopping £50k per week. Astonishing.
The transfer went against the wishes of our manager Kevin Keegan and was arguably the catalyst for our ‘Messiah’ walking away from the club and our ultimate humiliation that season – relegation. At that time, owner Mike Ashley was still new to the club and clearly he put too much faith in Wise, giving him far too much power.
I don’t know what sort of scouting the wee Londoner did on this one, but the Spaniard did not exactly have a glowing history. He was billed as one of the hottest young prospects in Spanish football when he signed for us, but when you look a little closer it becomes hard to see why.
He began his career at Deportivo de La Coruña, signing pro terms at the age of just 17. In their reserve side he was proving somewhat prolific, netting 39 times in just 53 appearances, however, we must remember that this is only the reserves we are talking about and not the real thing. In 2 years between 2004 and 2006 he would then go on to represent their senior side 19 times, managing just 3 goals. He then went on loan in the 3rd Division with Vecindario, where he scored 13 times in 27 appearances. That was the 2006-2007 season.
When he returned for the 2007-2008 season, he was a better player for it and managed to scored 9 times in 25 appearances. Not bad at all for a young lad, but it meant that at that point he had only spent one season playing in the top flight as a regular. For a relatively untested foreigner then, it is difficult to see why our football club were so confident that he would prove a success in the toughest league in the world.
Remember, this was not a gamble they were taking, it was a big transfer fee with huge wages. They must have been sure this was good business. Which is even more difficult to understand when you consider that we already had Michael Owen, Mark Viduka, Obafemi Martins, Peter Lovenkrands, Shola Ameobi and the young but promising Andy Carroll on the books. Clearly then, this was a well thought out, essential signing.
Xisco did actually score on his debut for us during a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Hull City, but he then faded out of contention quickly and pretty much never returned. Some fans to this day say he was never given a fair crack of the whip, but the reality is that a succession of managers have consistently overlooked him. That can only be because he demostrated insufficient levels of ability on the training ground day in, day out.
Maybe it was a cultural thing, maybe this league is just not suited to his style, maybe he is just a good technical player only suited to the Spanish game. Well, he has been on loan back in Spain for 3 years now. So he should be banging them in, right? After all, he was one of Spanish football’s hottest young properties and is still only 25 years old. Lets have a look then at how well he has done back in his homeland.
2009-2010: He spent this time on loan at Racing Santander in the Spanish top flight. He played 30 times and scored 6 goals. No assists to his name, but he managed 6 bookings.
2010-2011: During this season, he returned to his boyhood club Deportivo de La Coruña. The fans there loved him and welcomed his return. The manager spoke of getting him back permanently. He went on to play 9 times, scoring twice and getting 1 assist. In his defence, he spent the 1st half of the season at Newcastle in the reserves, so maybe this was a sign of his career beginning to pick up then? Despite his efforts, his team was relegated to the 2nd division.
2011-2012: This season then is where he would drag his side back into the big time. He was still a hero to his loving fans and big money had been spent on him by a glamorous foreign side. Well, they currently stand top of the league and are certainly set to be promoted. But how much of that is thanks to their hero, Xisco?
Get this, he cannot get into the team. That’s right, the 5.7 million pound man on 50 grand a week is a reserve player for a 2nd division side. He has made 3 appearances this season, coming off the bench on each occasion with a total yield of 1 goal. He has amassed a staggering 117 minutes of 1st team football this term. So it would now seem that even his boyhood club no longer have faith in him. After all, he cannot blame it on injury, he has only had one lay off this season and that was only for 3 weeks back in october.
If he cannot even cut it in the Spanish 2nd division then our chances of flogging him on the cheap this summer are non existent and we will be lucky to even offload him on loan. We know he had ability at one point, as you dont score 9 goals in the top flight by accident. However, I can only conclude that the big move to us and the big wages sucked any ambition that he once had right out of him.
He clearly has no drive to succeed in the game and must not work hard enough. What a waste of space when you consider how many people would literally crawl across hot coals to be in his position! This is why extensive scouting is so important and Xisco is a great example of everything Graham Carr and Alan Pardew are ensuring we avoid. Scouting is not just about playing ability, it’s about mentality. Our current crop of players will bust a gut to fulfil their potential and that can only bode well for the future of this club.
Xisco is probably the last remaining remnant of our gluttonous, overpaid, under performing past. The sooner he is gone on a permananet basis the better – as we can then look forward to a complete unit pulling in the same direction, without that niggle in the back of our player’s minds knowing some greedy sod is earning more than they are whilst contributing nothing to the cause.