Lee Charnley and co. have announced the release of 6 Newcastle United players including our last gasp hero Jona Gutierrez, but how will the squad be affected?
The players to go are Remi Streete, Facundo Ferreyra, Adam Campbell, Jack Alnwick, Ryan Taylor and Jonas Gutierrez himself. Meanwhile, Sammy Ameobi has been offered a new deal.
A few years ago Streets and Campbell in particular were slated as future Toon stars, but their development has ground to a halt when they should by now be making an impact on the 1st team squad. With a club so focused on the ‘buy ’em young, develops them and flog ’em’ model – the question has to be asked what’s gone on here then? It’s easy to point the finger at Pardew and Beardsley, but on the flipside the likes of Paul Dummett, Sammy Ameobi, Masadio Haidara, Rolando Aarons and even Mahdi Abeid to an extent have made the breakthrough to contributors to our first team. So then you have to ask is it just a lack of talent, motivation, luck or all of the above that played their part in the demise of these two? Streete has spent a lot of time out injured during his loan at Rangers whilst Campbell has had several loan moves down the years and never seemed to have really pushed on. It could be argued these two were never really 1st team squad players and as such it is neither here, nor there that they have been released. It is noted though that West Brom have offered Campbell a deal, which would see him remain in the Premier League – so what has Tony Pulls seen that our coaches have not?
Facundo Ferreyra was a punt on a possible regular goal scorer. He had a decent record in Argentina and despite not starting many games for Shakthar Donetsk, he still managed 6 goals from 5 starts in his debut season in Ukraine. Then the Russian conflict happened and he refused to return to his club to train due to the safety concerns he and colleagues rightly had. It seems Newcastle decided to take advantage of this and give the guy a go at the PL, ppicking him up for a relatively modest 6 million quid if his loan were to be a success. Our coaches must have had this guy chalked down as a 1st teamer, but for whatever reason it never came off and he spend all season injured or playing for the reserves. End result? We have a space in the squad for a striker and the lad won’t be missed, as we never got a look at him. Hopefully they will chose a bit more carefully when looking at our next striker, as we could really have done with an extra effective front man this season just gone.
In terms of Jack Alnwick, he stepped into the breach this season for his big breakthrough following injuries to 1st choice keepers Tim Krul and Rob Elliott, however in his 6 games in the Premier League this season he conceaded 14 goals. Unfortunately for him, he had possibly the worst defense in the League in front of him, but still the numbers did not look pretty for a lad who brazenly claimed to be the next Joe Hart! With Karl Darlow coming in this summer, we can consider Jack’s position replaced and even upgraded, so all good on that front, no?
Next up is Ryan Taylor. He has possessed stunning free kick ability and treated us fans to some memorable strikes, particularly against the Mackems in 2011. That said, he has suffered some nasty injuries over the last couple of years and during the limited appearances he has made this season he has looked a shadow of his former self. He has even pulled out of tackles, leading to at least one goal conceded by us – which had been unheard of for Taylor. As a result letting him go is the right thing to do and it frees up a space and wages at right back for a new signing. I hope his injuries are behind him and he can see out his last couple of years as a pro footballer at a decent level.
Finally, Jonas Gutierrez. What an up and down time he has had over the years. He was with us during our relegation several moons ago and he knows the pain of relegation. What stood out about him against Man Utd just after he joined was his abundance of energy. He was immense that day. He was always reliable if not spectacular after that, but as he got older many of us commented that his legs had gone and not too many were disappointed when he was shipped off to Norwich on loan. Little did we know his legs were not the problem, but he was seriously ill with testicular cancer. He has made it clear that the club did not support him through this difficult time and he clearly resents our club owner for how he was treated. However, he never stopped believing and was given plenty of support by the Toon Army. The end result is a film script. He fights the illness and beats it, returns to us, gets himself fitter than most of our squad, pulls the black and white shirt back on despite how he had allegedly been treated by the board and saved us from the doomed drop. What an absolute legend. I believe he was worth a year’s contract based on that performance alone, but can understand why the hierarchy may want to move his wages on and bring in the next generation of talent.
All in all, this cull does not seem like a bad thing – so long as suitable, quality replacements come in for Jonas and Ryan – whose character and work ethic will be a big miss in the dressing room.