Milner hullabaloo is laced with a bitter taste for Newcastle

By Lee Ryder on May 21, 10 09:48 AM

So James Milner could end up joining Chelsea or Man City for a whopping £30million.

All of it feels like Milner has come back to bite Newcastle on the backside - and that's before he even kicks a ball against us next season (don't forget he played out of his skin in the game that sent us down).

When Milner quit Newcastle United in 2008 his fee of £12million was deemed as good business at the time even though there is a major hullabaloo erupting over sell on fees or lack of them as teams tussle for his signature.

True, Milner had allegedly been sold Kevin Keegan's back on a failed promise that Sebastian Schweinsteiger would be his replacement.

But £12million for a player that blew hot and cold wasn't bad money to a Tyneside public at the time who didn't know the extent of the problems behind the scenes at St James' Park.

Indeed as a bitter power control ended with nobody getting what they wanted as KK walked out and Mike Ashley felt the full force of a seething Toon Army, Milner's departure as one of straws that broke the camel's back was a mere afterthought.

In truth, United had actually done well to get £12million out of Villa - after intitially snubbing £8million- for a player that had sometimes flattered to deceive and had been scrutinised for his lack of goals and more importantly for a winger, his final product and assist ratio.

Maybe it shouldn't be a surprise that since leaving Milner has came on leaps and bounds at Villa.

For a start he left with a massive point to prove after being shoddily treat by previous regimes at United.

And as a long serving member of the England Under-21 side it was always inevitable that he was going to play for England at senior level at some stage given the up and down nature of the Three Lions.

So perhaps forcing the issue of a sell on clause should have been a no brainer?

Martin O'Neill has played a blinder in getting the best out of Milner and there's no denying he now looks the part.

But remember how life had been for Milner - who has scored seven and created 12 in 36 games this term - before the last two seasons.

Check his stats out here

It was Graeme Souness in 2005 that claimed that "We'll never win anything with a team of James Milners."

At the time his statement was probably stupid and harsh but you could kind of see where he was coming from.

Milner had some fantastic games for Newcastle and netted some wonderful goals for the Magpies - but consistency was his Achilles heel.

And by the end of his stint on Tyneside it was no wonder he wanted 'out' after he'd been treat for long periods like a second class citizen.

Soon after Souness had began dismantling the team that Sir Bobby Robson had hoped would keep Newcastle in Champions League contention, Milner was farmed out to Aston Villa in a deal that allowed Nobby Solano to return to United.

A decent stint at Villa Park looked to have signalled the end of his short stint at St James' as the Villians aimed to secure a permanent deal.

However, after United had chopped Souey and replaced him with Glenn Roeder suddenly his situation changed - but not for long.

After being reassured about his future, Newcastle sent Milner back to Villa for talks with a move for Mark Viduka about to be clinched, that fell through for Roeder and as a knock-on effect, so did Milner's move to Villa Park where he discovered it had collapsed when in the Villa car park.

Milner ended up staying at Newcastle for another two seasons but never seemed settled and looked like he was longing for a fresh start.

For me this became completely obvious when covering the Mags in the Mallorca Tournament when the usually approachable Milner refused to do an interview because he was "too hot" and introvertly walked from the ONO Stadium's changing rooms alone, leaving behind his team-mates who were full of banter in the Baleric heat!

At that point it looked like th end of the road and shortly after walking out of the Ricoh Arena in the Carling Cup clutching the man of the match champagne after a 3-2 win, Milner was finally a Villa player again in a £12million move.

As he marched off into the distance at the Ricoh Arena mixed zone, you could see he was a man with a point to prove.

Well, he's proved it all right and what a fee it could end up being too!


Geordie Lee said:

I look at the Milner situation from a different angle. It is a damning indictment on the coaching staff and management at NUFC that he only began to realise his true potential when he left. £12m was good business, let's just hope we also included a selling on clause because Man City will pay stupid money to get their men this summer!

Dave Robson said:

Lee any news on the new kits design or release date.

David said:


Good article.

I can see your point about Milner - but its hardly surprising he was inconsistent given the fact he was only 22 when he left.

Furthermore to quote Souness (let us not forget this is the man who gave Ali Dia a premier league appearance) does not add much substance to the argument.

Milner deserves a lot of credit he has pushed on and really developed further. Its a sad detriment to Newcastle as a club that we could not have harnassed his potential. Hopefully messrs Carroll / Taylor dont have the same fate.

Matt said:

You could always guarantee a good shift from Milner and he obviously had talent. Whether he was blowing hot or cold he always made a contribution. Under a manager like Keegan (with a proven record of getting the best out of players) chances are he would have blossomed at Newcastle like he has at Villa. He was also exactly the kind of player that would have dug in during our relegation battle and might just have earned us the extra point needed to keep NUFC in the top flight. As it was we sold him and N’Zogbia for £17m and went down. Now it looks like these two players will be sold a year later for a combined fee in the region of £30m. Add this lost profit to the cost of relegation and Ashley’s transfer policy in 08/09 could well have cost the club the thick end of £60m. Conjecture I know, but there’s a lesson to be learnt and we still don’t know if Ashley has learnt it.

M. Sebastian T. said:

The blog is certain proof that it is now fully blown twaddle season. Talk of anybody paying daft money for Milner is 99% certain to be complete rubbish.

Actually, what caught my eye most in Lee's notes is the suggestion that NUFC were ever in the position to think they could compete for players liked Sebastian Schweinsteiger! There is of course also the silly Kieran Richardson story in the press. Yes it is certainly is silly speculation time.

In truth Magpie fans will have to get use to the simple facts:
1. They will do very well not to end next season in the state Pompey have been in during the last year.
2. NUFC are in the category of clubs like Wolves and WBA for players and everything else.
3. Avoiding relegation will be the only goal for the coming season, and if they do that for the following season too.
4. The premier League bow is three competitions; top 7, next 7 and the bottom 6, with those I list below being the most likely bottom tier).

The best thing is that next season around 25 point might be enough for survival. The competition for survival will be who does best when Newcastle play the likes of Blackpool, WBA, Wolves, Stoke and Bolton. Getting around 5 home wins and a few draws is what to expect at SJP next season, with 9 or 10 defeats.

Of course there might be a new owner, but if so it will likely be somebody else who really does not have the cash.

Magdansarf said:

I often read these blogs and feel like leaving a message though have never bothered before but felt i had to today.
Good business at £12million, selling Milner for me was the main reason we went down which cost the club a hell of a lot more, if Milner had stayed we would definitely got the 1 or 2 goals/results we needed to stay up. Keegan said he wasn't for sale then he was sold and Keegan didn't get the money to spend so he understandably spat his dummy another key episode in the fall of NUFC. The reason Milner was sold and Kev got nought in my view was Ashley had no interest in the club, he wanted to use the money to finance running the club so he could sell up and trouser maximum profit

kieran said:

M. Sebastian T, usually i'd just ignore your posts and let restless native put you in your place, but seeing as hes not here i guess i'll have to do it.

You laugh at Lee's suggestion that we were ever in a position to buy world class players, but Keegan and Robson were often successful in persuading fantastic footballers to SJP - the likes of which would never dream of setting foot in your stadium of s#ite. While we were watching the likes of Ginola, Robert and Asprilla, who did you get? Nobody is the answer. The "simple facts" you speak of are the only twaddle i see here.

1. I don't see any possibility in us ending up in the same state as portsmouth because we have the tightest chairman in the premier league.
2. Our fantastic stadium, facilities, fans and history put us above those teams you listed. I'd say we're in the same catagory as sunderland although I'd put us above you for the same reasons.
3. True, but this is realistically the same for all clubs apart from the top 5. Gone are the days when any team could win the league unfortunately.
4. I'd say the league is now split in two groups. The top 5 who have a realistic chance of winning the league and then the rest who will be fighting for survival along with everyone else. Those with any aspiration to break up that top 5 will have to spend like Man City to have any realistic chance.

Although you may have been able to delude yourself last season, you will now have to come to terms with this "simple fact" - you are not, and never will be (even if we're relegated again), the biggest club in the North-East.

RAFMAG said:

M Sebastian you really have not got a clue. We have kept our core of players which proved way to strong for the Championship. I quiet agree that we wont be pushing for a top 6 this reason or possibly even next, but unlike some clubs I could mention we have a squad of players who are willing to wear the B&W shirt with pride and play for the team. We saw the want aways jump ship last season..ow and if we dont have the player then why are top premiership clubs sniffing around our young players. We have had enough trouble sturring and snipping from with the club over the past few season so how about if you can say something positive dont say anything at all!! Come on the Lads.


Lee Ryder

Lee Ryder - Proudly born and bred on Tyneside, the Chronicle's chief sports writer has followed the fortunes of the club over the last three decades as a Toon fan and football writer.

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