On our final day of View from the Enemy, Ed Harrison from the NUFC Blog has shared stories about their hated owner and transfer woes.
Scott the Red: Were you happy with your team’s performance last season?
Ed Harrison: Yes, Newcastle did very well and but for a last minute equalizer in the last game against WBA, then Newcastle would have finished in 9th place, but 12th place was good, when the primary goal was just survival.
STR: Who were the most important players in helping you avoid that relegation battle?
EH: Joey Barton, Cheick Tiote, Jose Enrique and Kevin Nolan were probably the most influential players for Newcastle lat season, and it appears that the only one left come September will be Cheick Tiote. Kevin Nolan has left for West Ham, Jose Enrique is on his way to Liverpool and Joey Barton will leave for some other club too.
STR: What do you make of Nolan’s decision to go to the Championship?
EH: Kevin wanted a five year deal at Newcastle and they wouldn’t give it to him. The fact that Alan Pardew had said he would play Ben Arfa as the withdrawn striker, meant that Kevin Nolan may have been
struggling to be a starter next season. That’s even though he hit 30 goals in the last two season and have been great for Newcastle, but the new players are very skilful and Newcastle will play in a different style next season, and it should be good to watch. With the very impressive Yohan Cabaye signed, who is an excellent central midfielder, there were probably some doubts in Kevin’s mind about his place. But he also was apparently let down by the club, who had verbally agreed to give him a five year deal but reneged on it. Newcastle fans were shocked when Kevin left, and for a second division side too.
STR: Nolan aside, how has Newcastle done in the transfer market this summer?
EH: We’ve brought in five good players in Yohan Cabaye, Demba Ba, Sylvain Marveaux, 18 year-old Mehdi Abeid and Gabriel Obertan. But we are losing some top players too in Kevin Nolan, Jose Enrique and probably Joey Barton, so we may be exposed a little because we’ve lost our tried and tested top players in the Premier League. The fans are also upset that at the moment Newcastle have made over £4M in the transfer market this summer,, and yet we were told the £35M we got for Andy Carroll would be re-invested this summer – and that will not happen now.
STR: Without this investment, what are your aspirations for this season?
EH: If Newcastle can finish again in the top 10, and avoid any relegation issues, then most fans will be happy enough. Alan Pardew will field almost full strength teams in the two Cup competitions, and we’d love to win something for the first time in 42 years – obviously. And of course winning one of the two Cups would get us back into Europe too. So top half finish in the league, and there is an outside chance we may do well in one of the Cup competitions.
STR: How do you rate your Pardew’s ability to take the club forward?
EH: It’s not clear whether Alan Pardew is the right man to move the club forward, although personally I’ve been impressed with the way he’s handled some tough situations already at Newcastle. But it’s not clear whether he will be given the funds to build a good team at Newcastle by the owner, which he obviously wants to do. Unfortunately, Mike Ashley is making Scrooge look like a guy who gives his money away, so in short Ashley is frugal to the extreme, although to be fair he has also put Newcastle on a much firmer footing over the last two years. What’s unclear to fans is what ambitions Mike Ashley has for Newcastle, we just don’t know since he never talks to the fans at all.
STR: Where do you think you will finish this season?
EH: 8th position would be 3 places better than last season and that would be going in the right direction. How successful Newcastle are next season will largely depend on how our new players adapt to the Premier League, and whether they turn out to be good signings. Chief Scout Graham Carr has made some excellent deals for Newcastle over the last 18 months, and it will also depend on how some of our top youngsters like Shane Ferguson and Haris Vuckic come through.
STR: Which player do you think will most important in helping you achieve this?
EH: Yohan Cabaye was bought from French Champions Lille, and he has looked terrific in pre-season, and currently starts for the full French side. He looks a great passer of the ball and works his socks off for the side, so how he plays next season with central midfield partner Cheick Tiote will be very important to the Magpies.
STR: Which two current United players would you most want at your club?
EH: We already got one of them – Gabriel Obertan. But seriously we’d take Wayne Rooney and Phil Jones. Wayne because he’s one of the best players in England, and is getting back to his very best again, and he works like a Trojan. Phil Jones because we need some steel in defense, which could again be a weakness next season, and Phil is a young player, which Newcastle are after these days, and of course he can still improve a lot. Nani would also be great at Newcastle.
STR: Who will finish in the top 4? Who will go down?
EH: Manchester United, Chelsea, Man City and Liverpool will be the top four. Swansea, QPR and Wigan will go down.
STR: What are your feelings about Mike Ashley?
Mike is an enigma and we know very little about him because he never ever talks to the fans. On the one hand he has put Newcastle on a good solid financial footing and did well to loan Newcastle around £35M to help pay the wage bill in the Championship, which got us promoted quite easily, given the PL squad we were able to keep. Mike has given around £145M in interest free loans to the club. But he is very thrifty to say the least, and it looks like Newcastle will have to do with free agent signings and bringing top youngsters through the club under his reign, so gone are the days when Newcastle paid out big transfer fees for players. And there are signs that players like Jose Enrique and Joey Barton are not impressed with the ambitions of the owner, and we are losing some of out top players because of this, and that’s worrying. It’s disappointing that Mike Ashley has not reinvested the £35M Andy Carroll money, but he’s not a popular guy on Tyneside, and the Newcastle fans are frustrated with the way the club is being run so frugally. Newcastle seem to have become a selling club, and we are told every week by Alan Pardew that we no longer can compete with the big clubs – which we once were of course. There wouldn’t be many teardrops shed right now on Tyneside, if Mike Ashley sold Newcastle.
STR: I can sympathise, believe me!