John W Henry could easily have been talking about the Newcastle boardroom when he asked “What are they smoking?”
Does the £35m price tag placed on Moussa Sissoko make sense?
It does in one way: the club agree with Rafa Benitez and don’t want to sell the player. £35m is double the money we hoped to recoup last year. Even with three good games for France this summer, scouts will have noted his inconsistency last season when he didn’t show up often enough.
Don’t get me wrong, I would sell him in a heartbeat at that price if another met that price but if it was set to deter buyers, I’d rather Ashley or Charnley made an emphatic statement which said, “You got us into this mess, you stay and get us out of it.
Trouble is that in this day and age, players hold all the power. If he wants to go, Sissoko could find another club without too much trouble, I think. It’s easy for an agent to persuade a manager that Moussa is a fine player and the problem was that it all fell to him last year; ‘no support, you see and only when Benitez arrived did the club turn the corner but it was too late by then’ – it’s an easy statement to make and a tough one to disprove.
My problem is the same as yours: I tell myself that players don’t have the same commitment to the cause as you or I but that is swamped by the heart which says they want to bleed black and white. No matter what else: if the lad wants to go, let’s get shot of him. We need players who will fight for promotion, not turn up when it’s to their benefit.