Relegation Trapdoor

Monday, May 25, 2009 7:20 | Filed in Newcastle United

Don’t you open that trap door, you’re a fool if you dare,
Stay away from that trap door, cos there’s Barnsley down there.

Well, I can’t say I’m surprised.

No Alarms and No Surprises (get me outta here)

With the exception of the brief aftermath of the Boro game, I’ve been thinking the team were good enough to go down for most of this season. After a 38-game batle, we’ve finally achieved what it would appear has been our target for much of the season. I am presuming that was the plan, as why else would you undermine your manager from the close season onwards, sell quality players for big money without re-investing it, and spend about four months of the season without a proper manager…

In one regard then, I’m a pessimist; I’ve been expecting us to go down for most of the latter half of the season (and some parts of the first half), and I acknowledged Aston Villa were favourites to win for a very good reason (we’re shit, they aren’t, plus they were at home). In another, I’m an optimist, as I believe relegation might be the better option for us.

Sure, there’s also a down side. For a start, we’ve got a ridiculous wage bill, we’re lumbered with crap players, there’s going to be a lot less money coming in next season, and we need an entirely new first team squad. Depending on Ashley’s pocket and/or anyone else waiting in the wings, we could end up in administration, and possibly even dropping into League One. Doing a Leeds, as it’s now called.

On the other hand, I’d argue that Leeds are now on the up. They are still in League One, admittedly, but they’ll be back in the Championship sooner rather than later, and from there possibly challenging back for the Premier League.

And if we hadn’t gone down, we’d have faced the same struggle next season: we’d have had the same group of over-priced, over-paid, over-ego’d and under-talented players, many of whom aren’t good enough for the top flight. We’ve had years of the team slowly getting worse, as attempts have been made to paper over the cracks, and buying shit, or overpriced, or over-waged players (and indeed shit, overpriced and over-waged players).

Michael Owen. What a fucking bargain he was, eh? Although having said that, he was a decent player before he picked up that injury on England duty. He’s never been the same since.

This way we’ll manage to offload at least most of them, and we’ll get the chance to start afresh. Even if we have to step backward first, into administration or League One (or both), at least we’ll be able to start moving forward again.

So: we just need to identify who of the playing staff are actually good enough and we want to hang on to; which of them we should cash in on; which ones we need to offload; which ones we’d be prepared to offload for the right price, and which additional eight to ten to twenty new players we need. Just because someone has signed a new contract this season, fr’instance, doesn’t even necessarily mean that they are good enough for the Championship, let alone the top flight.

Let’s see:

In my defence what is there to say

  • Harper — will be fine for the Championship
  • Krul / Forster — two good young goalkeepers. If neither are adequately challenging Harper for the number 1 spot by the end of next season, we need to ship ‘em out and get in a proper challenger.
  • Beye — probably on big money but just one year on contract. Would like to hang on to, if possible
  • Coloccini — not good enough to deserve that salary in the Championship
  • Taylor — hang on if we can
  • Bassong — hang on if we can
  • Cacapa — thank goodness he’s out of contract
  • Edgar — tempted to hang on to, as I think is good enough for the Championship
  • Ryan Taylor — not been impressed by, but is probably not on big money
  • Enrique — don’t mind either way. Quite decent, but not sure if that justifies his salary in the Champ.
  • Ben Tozer — 19 year old we signed from Swindon a year and a half ago. If they think he’s good enough for the Championship, great. If not, time to move him on…
  • Tamas Kadar — another 19 year old in the youth/reserve teams. As with Tozer, it’s step up or move on next season…

Stuck in the middle with you

  • Duff — by name, and frequently by nature. Massive salary. Ship him out
  • Alan Smith — tries hard, bless him, but it’s just not worked for him. Big salary. Ship him out
  • Butt — not good enough for the top flight any more, but only one year left on his deal, and might do a job in the Championship. Happy to keep; happy to sell.
  • Jonas — would scare the shit out of some Championship defences. And get kicked up a height regularly. Let him go if we get a decent offer.
  • Geremi — out. Even if we need to pay him to leave.
  • Kazenga Lua Lua — promising youth player. Expect him to play a bigger part next season.
  • Nolan — think he’d do a decent job in the Championship, but equally, prepared to let him go if we get a decent offer
  • Joey Barton — I’ve had enough of him, the fans have had enough of him, the interim manager had had enough of him, and by the sounds of things his team-mates have had quite enough too. Not wanted back.
  • Peter Lovenkrands — happy to hang on to him, if we can sort out a reasonable deal.
  • Nacho Gonzales — remember him? No, me neither. Another one of Wise’s. Fortunately, was only on loan, so goes back to Valencia
  • Haris Vuckic — will only just have turned 17 by the time next season starts, so next season might still be a bit early for him, but if he’s good enough, would expect to see him start to figure for the first team (whether subs etc) next season.

Eat my Goal!

  • Michael “what a fucking bargain” Owen — we need mercenaries who don’t really care about the club out.
  • Shola Ameobi — and get rid of people who are simply not good enough
  • Obafemi Martins — a half-decent player on extremely generous money. I’m presuming someone will come in for him, and I’m happy to lose him.
  • Mark Viduka — bizarrely, one I’d be happy to keep, if we could negotiate a Championship-priced pay-as-you-play deal.
  • Andy Carroll — not good enough for the top flight yet; a bit raw. Expect a bigger role for him next season.
  • Nile Ranger — has been doing well in reserves/youth team. Can he step up to the Championship? Let’s find out
  • Xisco — doesn’t seem to have been rated highly by anyone at all, despite doing quite well in the reserves. Maybe he’ll come good next season? Maybe not. Either way, I can’t see someone coming in with a big offer, so he’ll probably get the chance to find out…

Movin’ on up. Nothing can stop me

So by my reckoning then, we could probably do with a left back, a right back, a centre half, a defensive midfielder, an attacking midfielder, a left winger, a right winger, and two strikers. Other than that, the rest of the team should be fine. Well, that’s that sorted then…

But first things first: we need to establish who will be managing the team next season. And if Mike Ashley has learned anything from this season’s debacle, he ought to have learned that decisive action is needed here: if you hang on for two months and do buggerall, the team, the morale, and the club’s prospects all trend downhill. I say ought to have learned — we’ll just have to see…

Is Shearer the right man? Jury is still out on that one. If Ashley provides him with backing, he might convince him to stay. That would maybe allow Ashley to start with the fans onside. If he’s not prepared to back him, Shearer should not — must not — stand with an otherwise discredited administration, as next season he will rightly be judged on the results of what would then be his team.

Either way, a decision needs to be made, and next season’s manager needs to be in place quickly so planning can begin.

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2 Comments to Relegation Trapdoor

  1. JackP says:

    May 25th, 2009 at 4:11 pm

    “Duff vows to remain at Newcastle”. Bastard. Hasn’t he done enough?

  2. JackP says:

    May 25th, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    “Lovenkrands wants to play top-flight football”. He’s more than welcome, I just hadn’t imagined any top flight teams would actually have wanted him…

    Between the whole lot of them, there’s almost two players I’d like to hang onto…

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