A boring June on Tyneside, you've got to be joking!

By Lee Ryder on Jun 5, 11 12:09 PM

And so we've reached one of those periods in the life of a football fan which feels like walking through the desert without even a mirage in sight.

Yes, the light at the end of the tunnel during a non-World Cup or non-Euros summer seems some distance away at the start of June.

But still plenty to keep us entertained at St James' Park without a ball being kicked.

Agent brinkmanship and clubs unwilling to cough up thousands of pounds in wages for a month's pay in June to a player sitting on the beach hardly helps the anxieties of fans up and down the country.

That's not to say there won't be new faces coming to Tyneside in June, far from it.

But with offers already on the table for European talent, the issue is straight-forward - or at least from the point of view of the agents who will pull the strings this summer on football's big deals.

So why the delay in the transfer window at this time of year?

Newcastle United already have the prospect of deals in place but of course no modern football transfer window would be complete without the role of agents.

A player may feel keen and ready to become a black and white, only for an agent to utter the "wait" word to see if better offers come in.

This widespread occurence could well work in Newcastle's favour with a knock on effect expected later this summer.

For example Player A has an offer from Newcastle United but has been told to "sit tight" by his agent with more money a possibility at say Tottenham Hotspur if their move for Player X falls through and he decides to go to Manchester City because he can get even more money there.

United also can't offer European football in either the Champions League and the Europa League.

What they can offer is the chance to be part of a big club, play in front of 50,000 every other week and be a real hero.

Yet in the modern football world, does any of that cut any ice with the mega-rich footballers of this generation?

When United signed Alan Shearer in 1996 it was a dream come true for a Geordie boy.

He didn't need convincing.

The clutch of quality players we signed in our early Premier League years tapped into a dream presented to them by Kevin Keegan because really - while the money was still good - they didn't know any better.

These the wage of a footballer is astronomical - and the greed of agents looking to make a killing makes them the real players in the world of the sport.

People are quick to point the finger at journalists for a variety of different reasons but agents get a pretty easy ride in comparison as they use the media in order to get what they want from football clubs.

Look at the equation, the journalist is the only one trying to find the truth from the football club and the agent in order to relay it to the fans - but is the journalist always going to be told the whole truth?

However, this is all simply part of the process during a summer of twists and turns.

Also throw into the mix, where Newcastle United are today and why a top player would want to sign for them, a team that finished 12th in the Premier League last season and played in the Championship not so long ago.

A Kevin Gameiro or Gervinho may need more much more persuasion than others but what are words compared to pound signs these days?

Would even Kevin Keegan stand a chance with a player that has probably not even heard of him?

You certainly do not envy the task of Alan Pardew in some ways.

Gameiro has already been quoted talking "Europe" while Gervinho is also reported to have the Champions League on his wishlist, and was linked with £15million move to Arsenal this morning.

No doubt there will be twists and turns in the coming weeks and Pardew has a A,B, C, D and E list to get through first.

Then there are the contracts...

Isn't it just typical in the wacky world of Newcastle United that in Joey Barton, we help reform a player, get him playing excellent football and then be left in a situation of limbo?

Taking away the right and wrong aspect of things just for a moment.

Let's look at the facts, Barton had two chances to sign a lucrative contract back in January and walked away from the table.

It's thought that he was annoyed - and who wasn't - by the sale of Andy Carroll to Liverpool.

So in looking out for number 9, instead of number 1 he is now in an awkward position.

And if he is running out at West Ham in the Championship or looking at empty seats at Bolton, it would be a travesty to most Toon fans seeing a player of such quality disappear down Barrack Road to Nowhereville.

Whatever happened between Willy MacKay and the club in the time between January and May is anybody's guess, we certainly won't be hearing about it in a hurry as Barton himself said back in December after Chris Hughton's exit: "Do you ever know the truth?"

But the facts now are that Newcastle now have an unhappy player on their hands who somebody can sign for a bargain fee this summer unless the situation is resolved.

Jose Enrique, meanwhile, mulls over a sizeable offer from the Magpies which would ensure the Toon get him to play here in his peak years.

Should he accept, it would give Geordie fans a major boost and one thing is for sure in the next four weeks we will see how much he wants to stay here with the players expected back on Tyneside on July 4.

Phil Thompson's slackjaw comments that his move to Liverpool was a "done deal" could still come back to haunt us but suddenly with the Kop side not in Europe, the move isn't as attractive as it once once.

There are also murmurings regarding Kevin Nolan's future.

With two years left on his current deal he must take a place further down the pecking order.

As ever, there is never a dull moment at St James' Park.


Chris Gray said:

Reading the various blogs linked to the local papers (this one included) might make you think that Newcastle had had a bad season and face a horrendous future. All we hear from supporters - who, if their comments are anything to go by, are a pretty brainless lot – is that Ashley is the devil incarnate and is to blame for everything. I am no Ashley apologist, but this will just not do – not least because it only serves to undermine and damage the club we all supposedly love.

Look at the facts, you blind, knee-jerking idiots (sorry, nothing personal intended).

Newcastle United have just finished in a better premiership position than when Ashley took over. Fact. True, we’ve been down and come up again but I’m with those who claim that was a good thing (although it didn’t feel like it at the time).

The finances at Newcastle are immeasurably better than they were then. Football clubs have to get their financial house in order first – then they might have a chance of moving forward on a firm footing. Fact.

Ashley now has his own man in the job – like him or loathe him, Pardew is Ashley’s choice and there is a chance he will get funds to spend. The predecessors were either inherited (Allardyce), short-term (Kinnear and, initially, Hughton) or foisted on him (Keegan, Shearer). For the first time, he has his own man in post. Fact.

Some (not all) of Wise’s young recruits are now coming through. We Newcastle supporters have never been prepared to be patient – we want it all now – but it will be worth waiting for the likes of Vuckic, Kadar etc (I exclude Ranger, although I expect he’ll do very well wherever he goes). Fact (more or less).

Gone are the days when we become the laughing-stock of everyone else by paying crazy money (transfer fees and wages) for dreadful players. The successful clubs in the future will be those who are sensible, prudent and build gradually. (OK, freak situations like Man City might threaten that – but we still await their real success, and will it last?) Fact (in my opinion).

And – I’m not sure quite how the Ashley-haters deal with this one – Mike Ashley has pumped over £100 million of his own money into the club. It may be a loan, but without it no-one seems quite sure where we’d have been. Fact.

And finally, whether we like it or not, Mr Ashley has bought us. It’s a free country, governed largely by property and ownership and money – and Ashley owns the whole thing from Jose Enrique down to the light switch in the gents toilet. Fact.

Now for the controversial bit. I was born in Elswick and Albert Bennett, Gordon Marshall and Dave Elliott were playing in the first game I ever saw. I was at Hillsborough, Wembley etc and was even one of the 7,000 at the Norwich game at the end of the pre-Keegan relegation season. I am black and white, North East through and through. But … the trouble with us is that we don’t live in the real world. Our culture up here is one of dependency – it’s someone else’s fault. I know it’s not pc to say it, but we are the antithesis of entrepreneurial flair. Ask anyone who tries to stir up business activity in this region. They won’t say it publicly but they’ll admit it in private. We know nothing, or so it seems, of economic reality. Football clubs cannot just throw away huge contracts – it makes absolute sense to do what we’ve done with Barton and – allegedly – Nolan. Footballers get far too much money and the game can’t afford them. Ashley isn’t being greedy by seeing that – he’s being a good businessman. That’s what Newcastle United have needed since the days of Stan Seymour, Lord Westwood, Gordon McKeag. Arsenal have been unlucky not to have won a trophy in the last few years but they’ve won plenty over the years under Wenger. Arsenal are the soundest club in the country – the only club in the top four who are virtually certain to be still there in ten years time. Wenger and his board will not spend unless they absolutely have to – they have spent a lot less than Newcastle since Wenger took over but have developed from within and bought young, hungry players at prices often well below £1m. (Vieira, for example, at £350k). When from time to time they’ve bought big, the player has almost always been a great success.

That’s the model to follow. All you Ashley-bashers really haven’t a clue.

toonagain said:

more worrying it seems like they've huffed Nolan aswell. so Barton and Nolan can go... well theres your team spirit... thats AC, JB, JE, KN and Ranger all out and who have we brought in? Some manager this man Padwho..? I fear the worst I really do...

You're right Lee its not boring but its very dull! any word on who the 'D & E' players are, as thats where we'll realistically be shopping.

Mal said:

'The predecessors were either inherited (Allardyce), short-term (Kinnear and, initially, Hughton) or foisted on him (Keegan, Shearer). For the first time, he has his own man in post. Fact.'

I wasn't aware Chris that keegan was foisted on him. From what I recall Keegan was Ashley's choice and it was Ashley's dealings with Keegan which led to the bad relationship between Ashley and the supporters. If Ashley started actually communicating with supporters and acknowledged his past mistakes I think things would improve vastly. I think the vast majority of supporters have no wish to go back to the days of trophy signings on massive wages but we rarely hear MA's side of the story. I doubt very much that no offer has been made to Barton (as his agent states) but we never get told anything.

Having said that I agree with much of what you have written and you make some very good points.

toonagain said:

Chris you epitomise everything that is wrong with the club and has been for yrs. Your attitude is exactly why we haven't won anything since before you started to support the club.

Its a typical northern mentality of 'we're ok if we just give it a go, even if we don't win anything or get anywhere I'll keep supporting you...' Wrong wrong wrong worng!!!

You're happy to come second or third because you have been conditioned to think that way, its a working class mentaility, most of us have it but it doesn't mean we have to live that way, we can strive for more and become winners but we must not let the dictators keep us down. Shouting and ranting a little bit on here is the best most of us can do. However If i find 500m I'll do a bit more and buy the club and give it back to the Geordies.

Good luck Chris mate but can I tell you something you may not like -you've been pigeon holed as a typical supporter, the type Mike the Millionaire is counting on...

Chris Gray said:


You are absolutely right in many ways – if Ashley would only communicate, his popularity, or at least acceptance, would increase dramatically. As for Keegan, my point was that Ashley and his group were, I think, largely driven by fans in choosing Keegan – a romantic, doomed choice if ever there was one. It’s often said “never go back” – to go back twice was once too much even for the great KK (untouchable in my view, along with Macdonald and Beardsley. And Tommy Gibb, obviously). Pardew is different in that he seems to be purely Ashley’s choice – clearly he wasn’t the fans’! That was my point although I might be wrong.

If Ashley would only say something! Pardew would talk for England, most of it rubbish. Hughton would spurt absolute garbage at times. But who cares, we liked him and we will probably end up liking Pardew as well. I suspect that the problem is that Ashley has got such a ridiculous, Eastenders kind of cockney accent, far worse than Hughton, Pardew and Wise all rolled up together (what a thought) and that he daren’t even open his mouth in this part of the world. Could be true, but we’ll never know.

toonjoy said:

Chris Gray, you come with some valid points there, and i'm sure you are passionate fan like any other beloved toon fan. (no more-no less)

However, the only gripe i have with you is this "business model" idea that MA has for the club. He IS a businessman, and that's all he is. It's all good if our club was just another of his companies, but this is a footaball club and to be successful you have to invest in top players. We the fans want success on the PITCH and when that happens you will see a chain reaction of success off the pitch as well. Just imagine the old days when we qualified for the champions league and how much revenue we would get from it if we started that trend again.

We NEED some form of silverware for godsake, how long has it been now? We don't wake up in the morning and think how much money has the club made? we want to wake up to the news of top quality signings that will improve our squad.

toonagain said:

I'd also like to add; under Keegan after about 9-10 we were starting to look really good again, there was passion and style on the pitch again. Keegan has got that something special that others don't have. If he had stayed we would of been top 6-7 easy by now.

...and on MA investing his own money into the club; yes and? He bought the club its his, it might all be under differnet names but its his. His 100m is relevant to what supports pay for a season ticket, shirts, pies and beers over the yr. All this is old ground however and we need him to move the club forward. to do this we need to retain our best players and let go those who aren't up to the same standard and replace them with better (including the manager)- at present that isn't happening!! Pardwho isn't helping he is simply a yes man for MA.

The players like anyone need to be paid the going rate. Yes its crazy money but if its the going rate and the money is there then thats what they should be paid. Until the FA say otherwise.

Chris Gray said:

Toonjoy - quite agree with your comments, but the problems come when you buy “top players” you can’t afford. Look at Arsenal – Vieira (£350k), Petit (£2m) were not big buys, they were the RIGHT buys. And when they bought big they always got it right (Henry, Overmars, Bergkamp etc). Those last three cost less in total than Michael Owen. Henry cost less than Marcelinho. You could get one and three quarter Overmarses for one Albert Luque. One Viana would get you twelve Vieiras. And so on. Whether you’re a football club or not, you can only buy what you can afford. Arsenal (who I keep quoting, I know) bought good players they could afford. Those players then took them to greater heights. We have over the years spent millions of wasted pounds we couldn’t afford on players who couldn’t, or wouldn’t, play. That waste of money has dragged us further down. We mustn’t do it again. Instead, we have to invest sensibly and un-dramatically, live within our means and grow gradually.
J Curran - £82 million barely covered the huge hole left by a pursuit of the above buying policy over many years under Freddie Shepherd, who meant well but failed to apply business principles to the running of a football club. And it also continues to fund the exorbitant wages paid to Barton, Coloccini and the like – good players but those wages are plain daft.
Remember, Ashley’s put in £100million on top of that, sold Carroll for £35million and we’re still in the red. Until we change our approach, nothing will ever change – except that we’ll go backwards. I’m no Ashley fan, BUT you cannot argue with any logic that overall we haven’t moved forwards since he’s been here. It might have been a bumpy ride, but it was always going to be given the legacy he took on. Higher in the Premiership table, no more mercenaries, far sounder finances and half a chance of getting somewhere. I have lived like everyone else trophy-less for 40-odd years and I can wait a bit longer (unless I die first which, if we did win a trophy, I might very well do – but it would be a nice way to go). Patience is a virtue, but not one that many NUFC fans have.
This is a good blog, chaps, keep it up. You’re all wrong apart from me, but keep the comments coming.

Chris Gray said:

Bathroom Fitter – glad someone agrees with me. I sometimes wonder what the unquestioning Ashley-haters are hoping to achieve, and what planet they’re on. A clear case of Life on Mars, I’d say. As those of your profession might say, along with Terry-Thomas – “what a shower!”

Seriously, they all have a view and we all share the same passion. We just express it in different ways.

I hope Mr Ryder has enjoyed this blog as much as I have.

By the way, if anyone doesn’t know who Terry-Thomas was, he played midfield for Newcastle in the 1980s. Or was that Andy Thomas? Great right foot, anyway.

David Hart said:


Well said. Totally agree with you. Like you I am no apologist for Mike Ashley. He has made mistakes but they have recognised them and are trying to build the club up from within and to put us on a sound financial footing. Please give him a break and recognise this. We all want a successful Club but we also want our Club to have a long term future.

Spider said:

Dear me Chris, what are you on?

As for Keegan, my point was that Ashley and his group were, I think, largely driven by fans in choosing Keegan

The whole Keegan appointment was a total surprise if I remember correctly and I definitely don't recall anyone shouting for him to be appointed.

And although I agree with you on some points about Ashley the simple fact is that the man and his associates can not be trusted and this in my opinion is where a lot of the hatred from the fans comes from.

I'll leave you with this:

5.2 The Club admitted to the Tribunal that it repeatedly and intentionally misled the press, public and the fans of Newcastle United.


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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