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Events over the past 24 hours at Newcastle United haven’t surprised me one bit. In fact it’s become normal for there to be some big controversial decision made every few months on Barrack Road.
Sure, I’m disappointed that once again we have (all but) lost another one of our better players. That means Carroll, Nolan and now Joey Barton have gone in the space of 6 short months. No matter which way you look at that fact it is a worrying development. Yes we can replace those players but that misses the point entirely.
In those three we have lost our three most influential players over the past two seasons. Bringing in new players is all well and good but no matter who they are, the fact is, a new signing remains a gamble. But then Mike Ashley seems to enjoy spinning the roulette wheel doesn’t he?
In Carroll, Nolan and Barton we had players that we could rely on and who delivered the goods on a regular basis. (And in Nolan a player who was great for dressing room morale.) They are some big boots to fill. Three players that, most Newcastle fans would agree, delivered more than the sum of their parts.
That is so basic it is deeply concerning that our owner and his cronies don’t appear to get that. You can’t just expect to tear apart a squad that appeared to have a great spirit and expect things to carry on as normal.
The Joey Barton situation is a curious one. Clearly by the man’s ramblings on Twitter he was not happy about events going on behind the scenes. However as someone who is paid handsomely by a club that, in fairness, stuck by him in his hour of need, he should have kept his cards closer to his chest.
I’m not saying Barton is wrong in what he says though. As fans we obviously don’t know half of what is going on and personally I would have given him the extra year he wanted. He loves playing for the club and, again, that isn’t something money can always buy.
What I think staggers me most by the Barton story is that this time Ashley hasn’t even done what’s he’s done to make any money. He’s prepared to let him go on a free. Wages aside that isn’t the usual actions of Ashley if there is a few pounds to be made.
We probably don’t know the full facts from either side and probably never will. Ashley clearly sees Barton as someone he doesn’t want around. His mouth is too slack (honest?) for Ashley’s liking. Ashley is a dictator of an owner. Anyone who dissents is shown the door. No questions asked, just get out! He is ruthless in that respect. And all we get is a two line statement.
Barton is now dividing opinion between supporters. Ashley has once again split the support right down the middle with his actions today.
The only thing I know for certain however, is that whatever happens on the pitch, is something all fans either pro Barton or anti Barton will have to endure together.
Season 2011/12 just got a bit harder.