Transfer Window: 5 Silver Linings Now That Andy Carroll Has Left Tyneside
If you follow football (soccer), chances are you also follow the transfer window. And at 11pm GMT, the window came to a close. Like a good student, most of the managers and agents tend to leave everything to the last minute (I won't say I can't relate). But suffice to say, there is generally madness on Deadline Day.
Whether, like Cheslea fans, you sat up to watch the flurry of trades to see who you'd get or, like Arsenal fans, you sat back with microwave popcorn, ramen, and a bottle of soda to enjoy the madness unfolding while knowing it wouldn't affect your club, chances are you at least kept a casual eye on proceedings.
But as a Newcastle fan, I can't help but feel that we were the big losers last night. We lost our potential marquee player, the guy who all our plans revolved around, for £35million. Having clearly decided that forwards are overrated, we also offloaded Xisco back to Deportivo La Coruna for £5.7m.
It was 6:20AM and I was running on two hours of sleep. To make my night worse, Stephen Ireland was said to have failed his physical, falling that deal through. Our forwards now stand at Shola Ameobi, Peter Lovenkrands, Leon Best, Nile Ranger (who, if we're honest, Alan Pardew doesn't use nearly enough), and one ability to identify with Cleveland Cavaliers fans.
But unlike Cleveland, we're not about to go on a 20 game losing streak (excluding that there are, in fact, less than 20 games left in the season). Here's a list of why, complete with pictures of happy Newcastle United people to place a more optimistic spin on yesterday's events.
He Was Well Overpriced
Owner Mike Ashley is happy to have picked up such a high price for his prize asset
This is the first thing that should come to mind. To put things into perspective, his move cost more than Carlos Tevez moving to Manchester City (perennial over-spenders as it is). He cost more than David Villa moving to Barcelona, and he cost more than Dimitar Berbatov moving to Manchester United.
Even the most die-hard Newcastle fans must concede that Carroll is not in the same league as the above players. Tevez is doing most of the dirty work for third-placed City; Villa was a star even among the star-studded Spanish national team last year; and Berbatov has scored eight more goals than Carroll while sharing the glory with a guy called Wayne Rooney. You may have heard of him. The general consensus is that Carroll's value is, in fact, closer to £15m.
The reason that he's been purchased for such an obscene price is twofold. First, Newcastle had been rejecting bids since December saying that he's not for sale, which almost certainly bumped up the price. Second, a lot of the cost will be seen by Liverpool as an investment. Currently he isn't England's best striker. Yet. He's only 22 and, if he does everything right, he will be a force to be reckoned with.
But herein lies the problem. That leads us to...
He Carries A Lot Of Liabilities
Kevin Nolan's happy to no longer be part of Carroll's bail conditions.
To become the world-class footballer many are tipping him to be, Carroll first has to sort out that infamous personal life of his.
After a domestic violence incident, he was granted bail on the condition that he live with captain Kevin Nolan at least until January. On his current thigh injury, The Mirror recently reported here that he, in fact, got his injury in a bar accident having downed a copious amount of alcohol. This level of drinking is supposed to be fairly common for him, and he's had numerous assault charges to boot.
While he's certainly not beyond redemption, he does need to get his life sorted out before he brings his team into disrepute or does something more serious.
He Was Useful, Not Essential
Peter Lovenkrands celebrates the prospect of more game time.
When Carroll got injured, a wave of trepidation washed over Tyneside. How would the Magpies cope without their starlet?
The answer was that they'd do a lot better than most fans predicted. Against hated rivals Sunderland, for example, it was proven that they can exert dominance over opponents and keep a solid amount of attacking power in his absence. Leon Best's hat-trick against West Ham showed he knows how to find the net like a bad tennis player, while Shola Ameobi and Peter Lovenkrands have managed to put in enough good performances to show that, while Carroll will be missed, he isn't essential.
The main problem lies with Carroll being Newcastle's main strategic asset. Because of him, set pieces were easy to execute by combining Joey Barton's dead ball skills and Carroll's height. Long balls were fairly commonplace, a lot of our strategy involved somehow "getting it to Andy" and it worked. Now that he's gone, the other forwards will be getting game time and new strategies will have to be formed.
Finally, one of our main strengths lies with a strong midfield. Kevin Nolan, Jonas Gutierrez, and Barton are all capable of scoring goals, or at least setting up others. Now that Carroll's gone, Newcastle's attack has been blunted, but not rendered useless.
The Squad Can Be Improved
These fans are clearly excited about a revamped squad.
Really, this one flows on from the first point. £35m is a lot of money by any standards, but add to the mix Xisco's £5.7m sale and Alan Pardew suddenly has a lot of buying power at his disposal.
As a result, while dominance up front has suddenly become an issue, there is a newfound opportunity to tweak the squad for the 2011-12 season. A while ago, talks were in place for talented young striker Youssef el-Arabi. While these seem to have either stalled or just not existed in the first place, they demonstrate my point that there are other quality players out there, and if Pardew looks in the right places and gets the funds freed up, Tyneside might have some new players to get excited about.
The transfer market options need not stop at young strikers. A new midfielder would be welcomed to add depth, options, and competition to the squad. Or some quality backs could be added to bolster the Magpies' defensive line. With options open to tweak the squad, Newcastle can look at consolidating their spot in the Premier League, or even begin to target European football.
Sadly, the main problem is fears that Mike Ashley will simply pocket the £40m and use it to fund his gambling hobby. With luck, Pardew can convince him to loosen his pockets in the name of squad development.
The Move Creates Certainty
The rest of the squad celebrates finally getting some closure.
It doesn't take a PHD in Sports Psychology to understand the impact players' mindsets can make on a game. As a long-suffering New Zealander, I long for the day our national rugby team can finally win a world cup, shedding the "choker" tag we seem to have earned. If things are going wrong for the players, that will hinder the quality of their performances.
For some time, rumours have been circulating about the future of the club, which created uncertainty. Suddenly everyone had a reason to be concerned about their future. But now that Deadline Day (D-Day, incidentally) has passed, everyone knows precisely what's happening on the transfer market. This means that focus can now be switched back to winning each game at a time, as opposed to how the Stephen Ireland deal will go, and how formations will be affected as a result.
By the way, the Stephen Ireland deal did end up working out in the end. So while our best player has left, all is certainly not lost.