A fan written piece by Archie Brand
Anyone who has been married for a while will be accustomed to getting grief off the other half for what they refer to as “wasteful spending”.
So what is “wasteful” when it comes to spending?
That’s definitely up for discussion but I can tell you that in our house it generally leads to a vibrant dialogue on the difference between the meanings of the words “need” and “want”.
Maybe I didn’t need the 60 inch TV to watch the matches on, but I sure as hell wanted it.
I could argue that maybe the wife doesn’t need 23 pairs of shoes, but life really is too short to be trying to fight those battles.
What got me thinking about this was reading an article about Jack Colback being wanted by Forest but they probably won’t be able to afford his wages, so it looks like we’re stuck with him on our books, which of course also applies to Mitro with Fulham.
Don’t come back at me about how we should keep Mitro, he’s class and all that radical stuff, that’s not the point I’m trying to make here.
I’d say it’s a fairly conservative estimate to say that we forked out 4 million in wages for Colback and Mitro last season, for what, 6 games between them? Yes I appreciate Forest and Fulham would have covered some of that, but the magic word here is “some”. Not “all”. How much – half?
That got me curious about how much we paid players last year to basically sit on their arses and do nothing.
First of all, the main squad get paid around 12 million quid in wages during the summer. Yes I realise there may have been a little inconvenience in training, trips to Ireland and all that stuff, but when you take your car to the garage the value you get from parting with that obscene amount is for the actual repair, not the few days the mechanic spent learning to wield a spanner.
The scariest examples of “wasteful spending” here would probably be Mbema, Gamez and Saivet who collected a cool 4 million between them to be included in the squad but not actually play.
Then there’s Shelvey – obviously worth it when he turns up, but more than half a million for not playing 8 games; Then there’s Slimani – 800,000 for being injured and sent off.
Looking through the list, Merino, Aarons, Manquillo, Lejeune, Haidara, Dummett, Clark, Darlow and Elliot all pocketed more than half a million quid each, for the games they didn’t play.
My estimate is that, including loans, injuries, sitting on the bench and just not being picked, the club spent knocking on 30 million pounds for players not to turn out for us.
Is it just me, or does that sound a lot?
As a club there has only been one table that we have consistently been top of, and that’s the injury table. Come New Year we have regularly had a dozen players out of action and almost traditionally, January has been a pretty depressing time for Newcastle fans. It’s been the time in the past when the youngsters get a run out with a sprinkling of the lesser injured old-timers also being risked, and a time when the results don’t go so well.
Rafa came in and immediately started to build up our strength of depth. Early in the season we saw a lot of player rotation which I’m sure annoyed a few of us, but the argument was always that Rafa picked his teams to cater for our opponents’ strengths and weaknesses, with the added bonus that fewer games for the players during a rigourous schedule meant less risk of injury.
And reduce injuries it certainly did. For the first time in a dozen managers we found ourselves having a happier New Year with Rafa spoilt for choice when it came to team selection during the crazy winter schedule.
Unfortunately, while we may have had a full squad to choose from, the fact that we were dipping our toes into the relegation zone suggested that many of that squad were just not up to the task.
Rafa’s not daft. In the New Year he pushed to strengthen the team, with 2 of his 3 loan signings making a huge difference to our game, but most impressively, he’d also realized that his policy of player rotation in general, was in fact, a luxury he couldn’t afford at St James’ Park. He just didn’t have the depth of talent required. The New Year saw the establishment of a regular first team core, with minor tinkering, rather than the wholesale rotation we’d become used to, and infuriated at.
Who’d have thought that the tactics you can use when you’ve got the kind of resources that are available at Chelsea, Liverpool and Real Madrid, wouldn’t work under Ashley’s reign?
Rafa sacrificed possibly his main core principle to keep us up.
He’s worked wonders on the budget he’s been given (or maybe that should be “not been given”), and over the couple of years he’s been here, he’s probably broken even on the transfer market while significantly raising the level of skill within the team. It just makes you wonder what he could achieve if he was allowed to step up from the 5 to 10 million quid League One bracket to something a bit more realistic for a Premier League team?
And yes, “a dozen managers” is a legitimately recognized period of time when talking about Newcastle United
It equates to about 4 years.
By Archie Brand