Our Director of F*** All, Joe Kinnear has not been well received at Newcastle United, ever since his second coming at the club where he announced himself as wiser than any Newcastle United supporter way back in June 2013. Thankfully, in the intervening period he has refrained from making public announcements, and his dialogue with the fans now comes in the way of programme notes that he certainly has no part in writing, or even dictating. Supposedly, Kinnear was in Germany looking into securing the loan signing of Luuk De Jong, but we have our doubts whether he even managed to get the Tom-Tom switched on. Anyway, childish insults aside, it would appear that Kinnear’s credibility is about to take another knock, as fans were assured that no top players were to be sold in January affording us the ‘strength in depth’ that has been preventing any incomings this transfer window.
Despite these assertions, it was agreed last night that Cabaye will indeed be on his way to PSG for a fee ‘significantly higher’ than the £14 million that they first bid for him. Pardew had repeatedly emphasised how vulnerable non-Champion League clubs are when it comes to keeping their best players (as he always does, funny how Everton’s manager Martinez never showed that vulnerability, in fact they have just signed Baines up to a new contract) and he came out yesterday saying that he was “not confident” in keeping Cabaye, no wonder as he most likely knew at that point that he was faced with a future without his star man.
Of course, the real problem is not Pardew whimpering about how vulnerable we are – after all he has had his fingers burnt by Ashley before when he claimed Carroll was not for sale only for Ashley to flog him when top dollar came in and has done again by selling Cabaye from under his feet – so naturally Pardew will cover his own backside. The real problem is not how useless and ineffective Kinnear is at his job – we all knew he was a borderline alcoholic with tendencies that one would suspect of a dementia patient – so naturally the blame cannot lie with him either. The real issue, and I will repeat this until I get through to the apologists, is Mike Ashley.
The issue is not about Cabaye leaving. The issue that should be on the tip of everyone’s tongues is why he is leaving. I mentioned the situation regarding Leighton Baines at Everton, easily regarded as Everton’s top man, just as Cabaye was easily regarded as ours. Similar situations in that respect. The speculation surrounding Baines and a possible move to Manchester United to follow his old boss also mirrors the speculation surrounding Cabaye’s possible step up to a bigger club in a European arena as Arsenal were chasing his signature in the summer. Similar situations in that respect as well. Both clubs are (or should be) top 7 clubs, knocking on the door of the big boys, but never quite getting there. However, the manner in which both clubs are run is quite different indeed. While Martinez strives to gatecrash the top clubs and strive for European football, Pardew has already shown his disdain for European competition. While Martinez does not wax lyrical about his top players to try to evoke media pressure and speculation about their futures, Pardew has essentially been pimping Cabaye out to anyone who would have him in his comments to the media. And crucially, while Kenwright has amply demonstrated his ambitions for a club like Everton (regarded as smaller than us not long ago) by offering his key player a brand new contract, Ashley has equally demonstrated his lack of ambition for our club by viewing our star players purely as commodities – every one of which with a price-tag on their head, with Cabaye being the latest of which whose price has been matched.
There are fans out there who will look at a £25 million pound transfer and rationalise it, and see it as good business. These people will say things like “he isn’t as good as Mata, so to get £25 million quid is a good deal” or “well we only bought him for £4.5 million, so that is a healthy profit” but they are missing the point entirely. Pardew has admitted that our team is built around Cabaye, so the logical inference is that without Cabaye we have no focal point, and are a lesser team without him – obviously. Without Cabaye, we could also see a dip in morale in our squad, especially those who harbour ambition. Needless to say, selling your star player without an adequate replacement can hardly be seen as the most ambitious step can it? Cabaye is also seen as a leader, a spark who can ignite our attacking play. Without Cabaye we lack that creative outlet that we so desperately need.
We are at a cross-roads concerning the direction of our football club. The decision to sell Cabaye gives a clear indication which road we will be going down. Down one route lies a concerted effort to crack the top 6/7 on a year-in year-out basis which would require bringing in an adequate replacement immediately. On top of this we would also need to bolster the squad we already have to demonstrate proper ambition moving forward. Down another route lies perpetual mid-table mediocrity which would be keenly shown by failing to bring in someone of equal ability or better than Cabaye.
Personally, I did not think that we would sell Cabaye in this transfer window. As far as I am concerned Cabaye is of a class of player whom Newcastle United should have labelled as “Not for Sale” – he was our star man, he was our Leighton Baines. The contrast in how Newcastle and Everton have treated their star men in this transfer window is a miniature reflection of the contrast of direction of both clubs.
I have my own opinion on what road Ashley will take this club down. What is yours?