Graham Carr – He’s not the messiah…

Posted on June 15th, 2012 | 45 Comments |

Graham Carr - Newcastle United..
Graham Carr: A harder road ahead?
You may have noticed that Newcastle United’s chief scout, Graham Carr, was very much in the news recently, and much of this was centered around him being given an eight year contract by the club’s managing director, Derek Llambias.

Usually, when a club renews an agreement with it’s chief scout, it hardly gets a great mention. However at the new Newcastle United rounds of interviews were arranged by the club’s press department, it “trended” on Twitter and was even covered in the national press. It was as if the club had renewed the contract of it’s manager. So what was behind this?

Graham Carr is now 67, with a long career in both coaching and scouting behind him, including scouting at other large, high profile clubs such as Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur. So why now, in the autumn of his career, is he attracting so much attention? what is it that has made him emerge like a Butterfly from a Chrysalis on Tyneside?

After an undistinguished career as a player with lower and non league teams, Carr had no success whatsoever as a manager. He still holds the dubious distinction of being the shortest serving manager in the whole of Blackpool’s history, lasting a mere sixteen league games before being sacked in November, 1990 as Blackpool languished at the bottom end of the the then fourth division. Eventually, after a later sacking by Dagenham and Redbridge as relegation from the Football Conference loomed for them in 1996, Carr finally threw in towel on his management career and started scouting, joining Coventry City in July 1997. In this field, he had far more success, eventually joining Tottenham under the then Director of Football, David Pleat, in 2000. It was here where he became a colleague of the man who would eventually bring him to Newcastle, Tottenham’s then reserve team coach, Chris Hughton. It is Hughton himself who may have a possible explanation for the Carr phenomenon at Newcastle. Speaking in an interview on how he brought Carr to the club in 2010, the Magpies’ ex manager said this:

“I had worked with Graham at Tottenham and knew all about how good he was. When the opportunity came to bring him to Newcastle he was always someone that I was interested in.

“I knew what he could do, I knew what his strengths were and when he was at Tottenham he already had a very good knowledge of the English and Irish market.

“In recent years he has developed that knowledge of the Continent and you would say there are not many out there who have a better knowledge on that.

“It was invaluable to have that sort of knowledge base alongside me when I was at the club and you have to say he has been a terrific appointment by Newcastle.”

Of course, he has also been an invaluable source of European knowledge to Hughton’s successor, Alan Pardew, too, but he is not unique. As an interesting aside, it seems that Hughton might once again be using the blueprint he instituted with Carr at Newcastle using his current chief scout at Birmingham and Norwich, Ewan Chester, another scout Hughton hired for his knowledge of European players. After his honeymoon talks with the Norwich board on his appointment as manager, Norwich City’s chairman, Alan Bowkett, announced that the Canaries will now be casting a much wider net for cheaper, better talent on the european mainland. Though Hughton himself stated that results “won’t be instant,” it will nonetheless be interesting to see how their project eventually compares with Hughton’s original blueprint on Tyneside, which has since led to Carr’s virtual canonisation at the cathedral of St James’ Park.

But enough digression. Getting back to the main point once again, rightly or wrongly, it is usually the manager who gets most of the credit if a club makes a series of astute signings and the scouting team stays in the background, as indeed was the case with Carr and his previous work at clubs such as Tottenham and Manchester City. However, it could be said that Carr became something of a political tool on Tyneside after Hughton was sacked by Managing Director, Derek Llambias. As was the case with Kevin Keegan, the eventual sacking of Hughton was generally an unpopular one on Tyneside. When Keegan was sacked, you might recall that when his relationship with Derek Llambias started to break down, and once again shortly after he left the club, stories were allegedly leaked to the media by “A source close to the Toon owner” and “Our top man at the Toon.” This source portrayed Keegan as a deluded madman who was demanding that players such as Ronaldinho, David Beckham, Frank Lampard and Thierry Henry be delivered to him on a silver platter.

With the similarly unpopular sacking of Hughton, there was also concerted attempt to belittle his role at the club, this time on two fronts. More malicious stories were circulated in the media, this time on how Hughton had lost control of the squad, with the dressing room being dominated by a cabal of senior players and so on. Another aspect of this attack was attempt to undermine Hughton’s role in the aquisition of players, and so Carr was thrust into the public spotlight as “The man who discovered Cheick Tiote” in local Mirror group titles such as the Chronicle, the Journal, the Sunday Sun and beyond. As I’ve mentioned before in these pages, it was actually Hughton who was the first person at Newcastle to see Tiote when he went to scout him for Kevin Keegan before Carr was working at the club.

Now please don’t get me wrong, this is not an article which seeks to undermine our excellent chief scout in a similar fashion. He is indeed one of the best scouts in the business, a great asset to Newcastle United who has been instrumental in the identification of some key signings for the club since his arrival. However, now hr is the focus of almost unprecendented attention for a scout at any club and the question must be asked, have we not got a little carried away with ourselves once again? After some significant early successes, have we now built up expectations which no scout can hope to fulfill? Current players at the club have now come to be regarded as infinitely disposable assets in some quarters. Even though we have had a very good season overall, some fans have become blase and jaded with some good players who were instrumental in that success such as Danny Simpson and one or two others have been targeted for abuse by fans and told they are not welcome at the club. After all, Graham Carr can always go out and get a better, cheaper replacement at the drop of a hat, can’t he?

In many markets, including the football market, values rise progressively as the quality increases. Then, when you get to the very top, to the the finest and rarest, things start to go a little crazy, prices (and salaries) rise exponetially. Whilst the knowledge of the continent Hughton was looking for in Carr has undoubtedly helped to subvert the market in Newcastle’s favour and payed dividends in a major way, you can bet that now it has been lauded as some kind of model for other profligate clubs, Carr’s job will get progressively harder from both sides. Other budget Premiership clubs will inevitably seek to emulate the method following Newcastle relative success in the marketplace, and the competition will be greater. From the other side, bigger clubs will inevitably attempt to lure away his most successful signings, and the club’s current policy on wages and bonuses will inevitably lead to the best players moving on to bigger and better deals elsewhere, just as it did with the previous generation of players such as Andy Carroll, Jose Enrique, Kevin Nolan and Joey Barton. Resources are finite and you can’t just keep replacing players with cheaper, better ones forever.

To finish on a positive note though, the club have undoubtedly done some canny trading overall so far (with some exceptions). This was also true to a degree before Carr’s arrival, with even some pre Carr purchases such as Danny Simpson and Mike Williamson now being worth several times what the club paid for them. This means that we should now expect be a top seven or eight side once again for the first time since our relegation. However, the next leap, if there is one, will undoubtedly be the biggest and the hardest by a long, long way, both for Carr and everyone else at NUFC.


NUFCBlog Author: workyticket workyticket has written 1092 articles on this blog.

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45 Responses

  1. Glad to see someone talking sense about our man Carr. Looking forward to seeing Debuchy play again today. I really hope he is toon bound. I was sorry to see Simpson not offered the deal he felt he deserves but Debuchy looks a step up in class.

  2. Carr is the most important man at the club at the moment. Doing the job on his own (brilliantly) that Ashley had originally given to the 3 Horsemen of the Apocolypse; Wise,Jiminez and Vetere.

    Agree with article, if he keeps coming up with players of the quality we’ve been in the last 18 months it’ll be nothing short of a miracle. The overriding policy is to sell them all at a huge profit, whether the money is then invested almost exclusively back into the team (similar to the hugely successful Lyon) or is stuffed into Ashley’s back pocket in lieu of what hes shelled out on keeping the club going is anyone’s guess.

  3. i live in Northampton, and i moved down here when Carr was the manager (late 80s)
    he did nowt in real terms – but is still revered because of the way his teams played. They love him down here and in fact he’s just had one of the bars at sixfields (NTFC) named after him.
    Nice bloke

  4. @4 robp , where is the proof that the overriding policy is to sell them all? Look at the players who have been given longer , bigger contracts, Tiote , Collo , even Shola!
    Carr is an important menber of the Management /back-room team , but to say he is the most important is to take away from the Team ethic.

  5. Aye,

    every cog in the machine is just as important/imperative as each other.

    Carr is not the messiah, he’s a very naughty boy!

  6. @ GFH

    It’s come from statements the club have made themselves but Fatman should be good at brokering a high price for whoever goes.

    Pards was on the BBC yesterday didn’t seem to be much comraderie between him & Alan Shearer! Thoughts?

  7. Good article but a little unbalanced, Carr is not the Messiah and neither was Hughton, on the same thought process we should not be demonising Llambias and Ashley, none are perfect or beyond criticism, but what can’t be denied is that we find ourselves in the most stable and optimistic position we have ever been for years, long may it continue, and for that, all must take some small part of the credit. HWTL.

  8. I wrote this story more than a week ago and got stick for it.
    Whats up with that ?

  9. Kev says:
    June 15, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    “Good article but a little unbalanced,”

    Sometimes in life things are a little unbalanced, Kev.

  10. workyticket says:

    “Sometimes in life things are a little unbalanced, Kev.”

    Amen :)

  11. Never take the view that people are criticising you personally WT. Its the article they dont agree with not you. Despite the hate mail and voodoo dolls you receive on a regular basis :lol:

    Shit have you seen the crap that gets aimed at me on .cock ? Generally from halfwits who cannot string more than two sentences together and that’s just Toonsy :lol:

  12. PS You’re right about Carr. He’s gonna find it harder to unearth talent when other clubs “tail him” and jump the gun on our prospective targets.

  13. AndyMac says:
    June 15, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    “Shit have you seen the crap that gets aimed at me on .cock ?”

    Andy, you haven’t seen the comments that get held in the back room here about you and Chuck. ;-)

    The spirit of Oscar Wilde lives on.

  14. FFS, there is no chance we’ll get DeBuchy. He’s going to top 10M, possibly more if he continues to perform as he did against England.

    Llambias requires no “demonisation”-simple description of his actions accomplishes the same effect.

  15. You shouldnt hold them back WT. People, no matter how stupid they may be, are entitled to their opinions arent you Witters ? :lol:

  16. tunyc says:

    “FFS, there is no chance we’ll get DeBuchy. He’s going to top 10M, possibly more if he continues to perform as he did against England”

    I agree tunyc, ever since he was allegedly reported to be interested in joining his old Lille team mate at SJP, his “profile” has been raised exponentially.

    Maybe he’s being used as a “false” target so the Gooners pay over the odds for him and we nick Corzo from South American football ?

  17. tattyheed says:
    June 15, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    “i live in Northampton, and i moved down here when Carr was the manager (late 80s)
    he did nowt in real terms – but is still revered because of the way his teams played.”

    tattyheed, Northampton was the zenith of his mangerial career. He led them to the Fourth Division title, but they were relegated the next season and he was sacked.

  18. Cabayeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! First international goal for him :D Not a great result for England if they win though.

  19. Oof Cabaye off the inside of the post! Another £5m in the bank from Man Utd. Haha.

  20. Excellent story!!!!!

    About time Chris got the credit for what he really did at Newcastle. He laid the foundations what where we are now and it’s long overdue. Brilliant gaffer

  21. Deciding whether to watch England or put lit matches under my fingernails. C’mon England, for once surprise me.

  22. Anonymous says:
    June 15, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    “Excellent story!!!!!

    About time Chris got the credit for what he really did at Newcastle.”

    Thanks Anonymous. I’ve been saying it for a long time, but I was just laughed at initially.

  23. “We’ve had the anthems and that just means one thing … a quick ad break, some deafening music, that ridiculous countdown and then we’ll be ready to go. Who are the people in Uefa who think additions like the countdown to kick off and the playing of Seven Nation Army for three minutes after each goal are a good idea? Seriously, who? I want names”

    Did Worky write this ? :)

  24. Sorry Andymac I had never heard them play it before. I hear it a lot at German matches but not England.

  25. tunyc says:
    June 15, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    “FFS, there is no chance we’ll get DeBuchy. He’s going to top 10M, possibly more if he continues to perform as he did against England.”

    tunyc, Ashley allegedly bid around £4 million and the bid was allegedly rejected according to the French media.

  26. Maybe a quick bid for Gebre Selassie would do the trick ? Or perhaps we should just bite the fecking bullet and give Simmo a decent wage ?

  27. AndyMac says:
    June 17, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    “Maybe a quick bid for Gebre Selassie would do the trick ?”

    It’s highly doubtful we would win a bidding war for any player when another club were chasing him as Ashley only tends to be interested in players who have have a fluorescent “50% off!” tag on them.

    When the mighty Wigan bid £2.5 million for Victor Moses, Ashley would only go to £1.5 million, even though Wigan were still getting a distress sale bargain at a million more. Pardew himself said that Ashley was worried that he wasn’t getting “value” at £8 million for a striker (Papiss Cisse) who was rated as being worth almost double that. He wants wholesale prices, so, for better or worse, he simply can’t compete with other clubs if they’re involved too.

  28. The point I made later WT

    “Maybe a quick bid for Gebre Selassie would do the trick ? Or perhaps we should just bite the fecking bullet and give Simmo a decent wage ?”

    The only players who come through this door are those on free transfers, or with low buy out clauses or where someone can persuade Fatman that he’s buying at less than market value !!! Probably because he got fecked over with Xisco and Smudger for £6m on £60k a week :)

  29. salesse didnt impress me much to be honest.

    his performances throughout have been 50/50.

    he might be a cut above obertan but thats about it.

    not someone i saw put much effort in. seems like a 60% man to me.

    60% men we can keep away. if you fill a team with 60% men you will get a team like wigan who only play for 5 games when the cack hits the cran.

  30. No success whatsoever as manager? Think you’ll find he won the fourth division with Northampton in 86/87 with 99 Points and his side scoring 103 goals. He also showed his scouting skills by unearthing the likes of Trevor Morely and Eddie Mcgoldrick from the non-league. I’d have thought an “exhasutive” article would have included this. FAIL

  31. Jack says:
    February 18, 2013 at 5:07 pm

    No success whatsoever as manager? Think you’ll find he won the fourth division with Northampton.

    Aye Jack, Alex Ferguson was reported to be green with envy. You forgot to mention that he was relegated and sacked the season after, that was THE zenith of his managerial career.