The worst deal we’ve handed to anyone over the past 18 months was the three-year contract Steve Bruce signed on the 17th July 2019, however there’s been a few since then that have left me scratching my head.
Matt Ritchie is a workhorse, Jonjo Shelvey a pass master on his day and Andy Carroll was once one of the most exciting young strikers we’d seen on Tyneside, but that doesn’t mean all three were worthy of new deals in 2020.
Carroll was handed a one-year extension last summer – despite failing to score or stay fit during his first season back – and that was followed by pay-rises and new three-year deals for Shelvey and Ritchie.
At the time, Bruce clearly deemed the latter duo to be key senior players at the club, yet both have gone backwards since, are stuck on big wages and don’t get in our best starting 11 for many Toon fans.
In Ritchie’s defence, he is versatile, a real leader and still has something to offer, but he’s no longer someone I’d like to see starting week in, week out in the Premier League – and he couldn’t even get in the side at left wing-back ahead of Paul Dummett (who is most definitely NOT a wing-back).
There’s been talk of him wanting a move back down South for some time, his quality on the ball is fading – whether it be sloppy passes or poor deliveries from set pieces – and he doesn’t seem dynamic enough to play as a winger or mobile enough to live with most modern-day wide men at wing-back. All that, combined with the fact he’ll now be costing the club BIG money per-week, just shouldn’t equate to a new deal, no matter how much of a good servant he’s been.
Then to Shelvey – a player who looks a million dollars on his day but ultimately doesn’t do enough to protect our defence, cover for his midfield partner or dominate games in a two-man midfield.
He’s handy in a side who play three in midfield and have plenty of the ball, but not so much in a side that spends 65% of the game chasing it!
He’s also said to be one of our highest earners on around £80,000-per-week, but is he one of our star players? Not for me. He’s either too slow to keep up or struggling to stay fit either side of the odd impressive performance we see from him once in a blue moon.
He can look one of the Premier League’s best passers when he fancies it, but in reality his career is stalling and the club are in desperate need of a new Yohan Cabaye and driving midfielder to transform what has become a tired and one-dimensional engine room.
Then to Andy Carroll. I’m delighted that he scored his first goal in a black and white shirt for over a decade in our defeat to Leicester, but our decision to hand him an extension last summer was surely down to his cheap wages when he doesn’t start, influence in the dressing room and the unrealistic hope he’d stay fit and find the sort of form that he’s failed to rediscover for far too long.
Carroll was actually much better against Arsenal over the weekend, lasting the game well and being arguably our best player in both boxes, yet he did fluff our two big chances, firing wide from six yards with the first.
OK, he was only given an extra year, but I’ve read he earns £70,000 when he starts. When he’s only managed one goal in 18 months, is he really worth that wage and a space in our 25-man squad? I’m not sure.
We’ve made some very good decisions with contract of late, with Federico Fernandez fully deserving of the new deal he landed last year – despite entering his 30’s – and Ciaran Clark also looking set to land a well deserved extension, however I can’t help but feel we needed to refresh our squad – not stick by an old guard who haven’t actually done enough in recent years.