Should Newcastle United treat others as they would like to be treated themselves?

Posted on August 11th, 2012 | 52 Comments |

The Golden Rule.
Should Newcastle United follow the Golden Rule?
That is the maxim which has been known as “The Golden Rule” for several centuries, but how would Newcastle United feel if they were treated the way they have been treating some other clubs recently?

Make no mistake, there have been reams of complete fiction embroidered around our recent attempts to sign players in an attempt to titillate the excited Newcastle United fan. That empty mantra about Newcastle United not being “held to ransom” over players any longer has been repeated constantly, as if other clubs have been somehow unreasonable for refusing to sell their finest players for sums far below their true worth. The longest and most notable saga in this particular transfer window has been that of Lille right back, Mathieu Debuchy, and this is the case I will concentrate on mostly here, as this piece would be far too long if I looked at all of them in the same detail.

Just to get things straight, Newcastle United’s two bids for Debuchy were equivalent to around £3.9 million and £4.75 million respectively (€5 and 6 million). Hacks such as Lee Ryder from the Evening Chronic were incorrect in quoting them as £5 million and £6 million. As to whether this was deliberate, or just lazy and incompetant “journalism” I cannot say with complete certainty. Neither of these bids had a hope in hell of being accepted by a strong Champions League club for a French international player who has three years left on his current contract, and has been estimated as being worth as much as £10 million in the current market. Lille’s Chairman, Michel Seydoux, made it clear himself that we could have had Debuchy for an very reasonable £6.3 million (“Our price is €8 million, because he is a quality player” said Seydoux). However, that may not have been the point as even after Seydoux’s clarification, Derek Llambias persisted with the same strategy of making another derisory bid which he must have known would not be accepted, perhaps in the possible hope that Debuchy might go even further in his attempts to force the club into letting him go at a much reduced fee. In the event of course, it led to Lille withdrawing the player in complete exasperation with Newcastle.

Of course there have been several other players and clubs who have been subjected to a similar routine by Newcastle, such as Vurnon Anita of Ajax, Luuk de Jong (who was snapped up by Borussia Mönchengladbach for a more realistic sum), Douglas of FC Twente, and somewhat laughably after Derek Llambias’s assertion that he was worth “**** all,” Andy Carroll. Any team who received ridiculous bids such as the ones submitted by United would be right to give them short shrift and just move on. But despite being rebuffed, a concerted effort to unsettle the players (and also their advisors in the hope of commission), hoping that they would wreak so much havoc within their clubs that they will eventually relent and sell under extreme pressure. On Debuchy again, his ex Lille team mate, Cabaye, allowed himself to be drawn into the affair too. Speaking to Tyneside newspaper, the Journal, he revealed:

“I told my friend (Mathieu) Debuchy he should come here. He said he would love to come to England and Newcastle. He would like to come here.”

And in a later interview:

“Mathieu has made a very difficult to decision to leave Lille but he has made the decision. Now I hope Newcastle push for Mathieu and I want them to do the deal, I spoke with him two days ago and he told me he wants to come. I hope Derek [Llambias] and Mike Ashley will do the business now.”

As you can see above, they didn’t “do the business,” making Cabaye look rather naive in his vain hope that the gruesome twosome would actually do the right thing.

It is interesting (well, it is to me anyway) in this context that the sum bid for Debuchy (£4.75 million), is more or less exactly the same as the one paid for Cabaye, with both being around half of the players’ estimated values at the time. This is despite the fact that there is no £5 million release clause in Debuchy’s contract and it still has three years to run. Using good scouting to identify targets who would be good investments who appreciate in value, or even finding a rare player with a previously undiscovered release clause of such low value in relation to the player’s real worth is one thing, but it would be hard to beleive that Ashley and Llambias could build a whole player aquisition strategy around the expectation that Newcastle United could make ALL of their big signings at 50% off. Ashley knows better than anyone that the seemingly endless 50% discounts in his own stores are a complete deception, with the tags even being attached to the clothing in the far eastern sweatshops where they are made in some cases. This is not the grubby “bargain basement” of the rag trade though, and to say it was unrealistic in the long term, especially if the club are aiming for both domestic and European success in the long term would be an understatement. I write this despite Cabaye and the other example, Papiss Cisse (but more on him later).

Meanwhile, it goes without saying that Alan Pardew has also been keeping his mouth busy getting in on the action. In an attempt to unsettle Andy Carroll, he told the big lad that he has no future at Liverpool, and told Liverpool that they must accept a significant loss on him. Most recently, despite being warned off Anita, Douglas and Debuchy by Ajax, Twente and Lille respectively, Pardew has still claimed that he is “getting the right noises” from his targets about a move as if their current clubs are a complete irrelevance to be brushed aside, which is probably a little like Pardew himself (and his predecessors) when it comes to Newcastle United’s transfer negotiations.

But, getting to the message encapsulated in the title of this piece, how would Newcastle United, or we fans for that matter, like it? What would we say if the boot was on the other foot and it was players like Cisse, Ben Arfa or Cabaye were being targeted and unsettled in such an aggressive fashion for a relative pittance? What would we say if Brendan Rogers were to start saying that Demba Ba’s career at Newcastle was finished and that he was “getting the right noises” from him about a move to Anfield? I’m sure that we wouldn’t be very pleased to say the least.

Returning to the mantra of the moment, we are not being “held to ransom” over players, and the only alternative isn’t buying has beens for exhorbitant fees and paying them ridiculous wages. That is a completely false choice, a fallacy which has been cynically designed to deceive the feeble minded with little or no capacity for pure logic and critical thinking. On the contrary, it is far more arguable that it has been Newcastle United who have been attempting to hold other clubs to ransom rather than vice-versa. To borrow a banker’s description Mike Ashley in his methods with Sports Direct, “He likes to park his tanks on people’s lawns” – He is no different when it comes football, but football is a different game.

Besides being somewhat hypocritical, it’s also worth asking if this is the wisest way to behave in the long run? To take one example, the Netherlands in general, and Ajax in particular, have been without a shadow of a doubt one of the greatest pools of export talent in the history of football, from the days of Cruyff, Neeskens and Johnny Rep in the early seventies right through to the present day with players such as Robin van Persie. It isn’t only native players either. The likes of Romario and Ronaldo the first were not signed for Barcelona from Brazil, they were signed from Dutch club, PSV Eindhoven. Of course, we ourselves have the Dutch League to thank for having Tim Krul (from Den Haag) and Cheick Tiote (from Twente) in our current squad. Like Lille with Cabaye, and now the Debuchy siege, we showed our gratitude to Twente by trying to unsettle Douglas and de Jong in the hope that they would try to force a move for another ludicrously low fee which was completely out of line with their true values. We alienate clubs such as Ajax, PSV and Twente, not to mention the French Lille out our peril, and it now seems as if our reputation is starting to precede us.

Of course, it did work once though, with the above mentioned Papiss Cisse. The club refused to pay a realistic sum in last Summer and the prospective deal for him broke down. But the club kept it secret and took a risk on no-one else becoming involved, and waited for his previous club, Freiburg, to capitulate in the later January transfer window when the club were facing relegation to the second tier of the German Bundesliga (which didn’t happen after all). From a starting point of around £14 million, we eventually signed him for a mere £7.5 million potentially rising to £9 million. Llambias himself bragged to fans about how they pulled it off saying:

“January came and nobody knew Cisse was happening, which is how we like it – those are our most successful deals, without the interference, in terms of upping the price or someone coming in at the last minute.”

Though he did have an undeniable impact he had when he eventually did arrive on Tyneside, it’s impossible to say how much difference he could have made if he had joined us at the beginning of the season, especially with Chelsea denying Tottenham a fourth place go at the Champions League qualifiers with their win in the final.

But as I’ve written, this cannot be maintained for every signing, at least if the club is aiming to continue it’s current momentum and genuinely compete for other trophies, rather than just become a feeder club for bigger and more ambitious clubs. This is especially so now that the club’s card has been marked and we now have a European campaign to think about.


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

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52 Responses

  1. I don’t agree for some part. Every transfer case will be different. If our player want to move and it’s better for their career and our club, I don’t think we will against them.

    We didn’t try to unsettle any player but it’s their own decision to decide their future. I don’t mind if Barca or RealMadrid come and said Ba doesn’t have future here, if he want to leave for better career but not Liverpool, isn’t it?

    I think we did the great homework to find player who don’t just ability but desire to come here too. However it’s the chairman level to make the deal. If the both side can agree, who care about the rumor and any mind game before that ?

  2. I’m not sure whether this article is in praise of Newcastle or yet another article criticizing Newcastle and its management.

    The proof is in the pudding as they say and the players (possibly with the odd exception) that have been bought in the last two seasons have been excellent. I’m not too bothered about how Newcastle go about its business. Its the performances of the players and the results that matter.

    Whilst it’s early days, Bigi and Amalfitano do look very promising and praise must go to the scouting and negotiating team.

    Also, it would be nice to have Debuchy onboard but not at any price. I don’t want us to go back to the Shepherd days of being taken for mugs and paying way over the odds (with borrowed money) for some very poor players.

    Carry Newcastle you are doing a good job, I for one are appreciative.

  3. Kamar says:

    “I’m not sure whether this article is in praise of Newcastle or yet another article criticizing Newcastle and its management”

    Is the Pope a Catholic Kamar ? It’s an article by WT so it goes without saying !!!!

  4. “Also, it would be nice to have Debuchy onboard but not at any price. I don’t want us to go back to the Shepherd days of being taken for mugs and paying way over the odds (with borrowed money) for some very poor players”

    Strangely enough I find that somewhat contradictory. While I agree that we shouldn’t buy players on vastly inflated wages or transfer fees, if you stick to our alleged transfer policy then Debuchy is too old and therefore not worth the investment ?

    As I’ve said before the squad we had last season was thin, in terms of quality, and we werent in Europe then. Now three forwards and two midfielders (OK they werent world beaters but they beefed up what was there) have gone so now the squad is even thinner. Yet Pardwho has gone on record stating that no player will play every game this season which means we need to replace those leaving with quality and not just numbers.

    Dunno what’s happened with Pieters or Yanga-Mbiwa or even Samuel Inkoom but they’re all young and capable of playing in alternative positions so assuming we wont bring in five new quality players what we’ll have to settle for is adaptability in the squad. So at least bring in Anita for starters.

  5. ‘..Is the Pope a Catholic Kamar ? It’s an article by WT so it goes without saying !!!!..’

    LOL !

  6. A load of sentimental bollocks. Like it or not this is the way the world works. We just joined in rather then being taken for fools. Nobody is going to treat us how we would like to be treated, get over it. And if MD is such a bargain how come he is still at Lille?

  7. Kamar claims the prize for being the first to ape the false dichotomy that Worky called out in the article itself. IT’S A FALSE DICHOTOMY! FFS, it’s completely unreasonable to imply, as that “being taken for mugs/paying way over the odds” assertion does, that either clubs sell players for whatever WE want or its a rip off. It’s a very facile way of thinking. Give it a shot next time you’re in the market for, say, anything.


    That said, much of what you read about transfers, anywhere, is hokum. No matter how much you filter your sources, one gets exposed to rumors that are blatantly false and conversely there are major moves that no one knows about until they happen. I also don’t worry overmuch about alienating clubs. I imagine that Llambias probably does have a representative or two who aren’t as abrasive or churlish as himself. Also, this is big business and everyone involved are big boys who can handle having their ego bruised occasionally, especially if the checks keep clearing. There are no heros and no villains as this is real life. We’ve been a bit loud and over the top about reminding Dutch clubs that, ultimately, they will have to sell their world-class players to leagues with clubs that pay higher wages. Today in 2013, that is a fact. Lille, I admit, is another story…frankly I’ve been worried about PSG coming in and blowing up that deal considering Maxwell is on the wrong side of 30.

  8. Is nobody aware that we’re playing Cardiff today?

    It’s not listed on sky or bbc or anywhere else for that matter.

    Am I missing something?

  9. Len @ 7 – and that’s the crux of this negotiating style. It can be crude, but we will continue to remind Lille that they’re not getting any better offers. We have unsettled the player, which I wouldn’t like either but does happen as it seems to have with Carroll.

  10. Sorry to anyone who was expecting a match banter post for the Cardiff game. I’m not feeling too good and even if I was, I’d be uptown meeting Pele anyway.

    If anyone finds a link for the game or would like to put the teams up or anything like that please feel free.

  11. Team vs Cardiff

    Newcastle United (4-4-1-1): Tim Krul; Danny Simpson, Fabricio Coloccini (c), Steven Taylor, Davide Santon; Ryan Taylor, Cheick Tiote, Sylvain Marveaux, Jonas Gutierrez; Gabriel Obertan; Shola Ameobi

    Subs: Steve Harper, Mike Williamson, James Perch, Dan Gosling, Romain Amalfitano, Haris Vuckic, Adam Campbell

  12. I’ve always liked that Peter Whittingham and thought he would’ve been in the Premiership years ago. He made an excellent pass for the goal apparently.

  13. Get well soon worky

    Cant beleive were 3 nil down!

    Shola nearly scored and were getting better though says the live coverage on the club site

  14. Len Smith says:
    August 11, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    “And if MD is such a bargain how come he is still at Lille?”

    And if Neymar is such a good player, why is he still at Santos, Len? :-)

    Why don’t they teach logic at schools come to think of it? Do they prefer it if people are irrational and are incapable of realising when they’re fooling themselves with fallacies?

  15. CARDIFF CITY 4 – 1 Newcastle United (Etien Velikonja 76′)
    9,682 in attendance 776 away support included in that.

    Lets hope Pardwho’s learned his lesson about Shola and Obertan :(

  16. AndyMac says:
    August 11, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    “Lets hope Pardwho’s learned his lesson about Shola and Obertan”

    Leave the big gadgie alone, Andy. He’s underestimated and actually scores more goals than people think he does. It’s not his fault, or Obertan’s for that matter that we’ve let four in. Have a look at the back, and the Grey Gaffer himself.

  17. It said that cardiff had a nailed on penalty turned down as well so we could have been 5-1 down.

    Sort it out lads!

  18. Gosling hit the post and Romain had two decent efforts saved by Lewis but there Slovakian, Kiss, was apparently outstanding ????

  19. We can take the positives out of this I suppose, like the Chairman says, Newcastle pulled off a pretty big coup in signing Papiss Cisse, riding their luck that no one else would become involved, how did they do that? They kept it quiet by not going public. I would like to see Debuchy at Newcastle and certainly wouldn’t mind us forking out £6m on him but I don’t blame the management for having a go at getting him on the cheap. Lets just hop that they have something up their sleeve that we all don’t know about.

  20. AndyMac says:
    August 11, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    “No forward threat = greater pressure on defence”

    Can;t see this game but from the little I’ve seen of Ameobi in these pre season things, he hasn’t been the problem when he’s been on and he has scored and made goals.

    Never mind about the forwards, what about the midfield you Shola hater? :-)

  21. First choice goalkeeper and defence. Tiote, Jonas in midfield, so seven of the eleven who will start next week I think.

    Throughout pre-season it still seems the same as last season. If it ain’t right tactically from the first minute, it ain’t right for the whole ninety.

    Friendly or not, bad result, given this was our last game. Could maybe understand it a little if it was our first and we were rusty.

    One week to go. Llambias better start pulling his finger out, forget and start improving this squad before September.

  22. Andy, Krul kept the score down according to Ryder. If you can believe anything he says…

  23. Jimbob says:
    August 11, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    “according to Ryder. If you can believe anything he says…”

    Nope. Like Llambias, if he told me that the sky was blue I’d have to check it first, Jimbob.

  24. “Lovely stuff again from Campbell, who produces a lovely turn and then a sublime pass for Vuckic who becomes the second player to be thwarted by the onrushing Lewis in the space of five minutes. So in less than ten minutes on the pitch, Campbell could have set up two goals and won a penalty – not a bad introduction to life in the first-team and he can hold his head high. That’s the last incident of the afternoon as the whistle blows, and it finishes 4-1 to Cardiff”

    Players who cause trouble for defences help teams put pressure on opposition. Judging from the commentary neither Shola nor Obertan were a “threat” yet Campbell was ?

  25. Maybe I’m just behind the news cycle but the plot seems to have thickened with Ashley’s bid for a share of Rangers. It apparently involves an agreement between the clubs to send up to 9 NUFC players to RFC on loan. This certainly doesn’t do any damage to the argument that Ashley is imitating the Pozzo/Udinese model…

    For this season, any who go will leave this month as RFC is banned from making new signings for a year from then. I wouldn’t be surprised to see any of Abeid, Vuckic, Good, Bigirimana or Tavernier go. Question is, can we really send those players if we don’t expand the squad? Hmmmm…

  26. Don’t think it was their fault Andy, but in the context of being a top six club they are both crap. Well, if you regard us as a top six side, we need better squad players to call upon.

    Those better players we need though, we won’t get, not unless they cost £3.50 and a packet of crisps.

    “If he’s worth £4 million, they offer £2 million, it gets rejected”. Remember who said that?

    I am all for not getting ripped off, or paying over the odds, but in Debuchy’s case, if we paid nearly £10 million, it would still be a good deal, and improve our team. Nobody’s asking them to spend £17 million on a Micheal Owen are they?

    If only Derek could have sold those stadium naming rights, that would “bring in another player”… So he says.

  27. Rangers: Newcastle’s Mike Ashley ready to buy Ibrox share

    “Rangers will be able to borrow as many as nine Newcastle players in a deal that will see Magpies owner Mike Ashley buy a share in the Ibrox club.

    The Scottish FA is set ratify the move on the condition Ashley owns no more than 10% of Rangers and has no personal role in running the club…”

  28. tunyc says:
    August 11, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    “For this season, any who go will leave this month as RFC is banned from making new signings for a year from then. I wouldn’t be surprised to see any of Abeid, Vuckic, Good, Bigirimana or Tavernier go. Question is, can we really send those players if we don’t expand the squad? Hmmmm…”

    Really cannot let any of them go on loan. Seriously.

    But I bet we do.

  29. Jimbob says:
    August 11, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    “If only Derek could have sold those stadium naming rights, that would “bring in another player”… So he says.”

    Branson’s giving him £10 million per annum for the shirts now (It was only £2.50 with Northern Rock), so he has his £10 million, Jimbob. Shirt deals are actually far more lucrative than stadium naming rights deals anyway.

  30. TBH, Jimbob-I don’t think Good, Bigi or Tav will really help us in the league anyway. So all they’ll miss are a few games in the cups. I don’t think that makes any difference-they’re not going to cover the fact that we don’t have depth, just as Simpson and Perch at the center of defense couldn’t last season.

    As it is though, I can see Vuckic getting burn at FW and Abeid covering for Tiote when he’s suspended or in the African Cup. Maybe Tavernier too but I think Ferguson will get those minutes.

  31. “Why weren’t big guns such as Ba, Benny and Cisse getting some fine tuning in for the proper games coming up?”

    I’m guessing that Pardwho wanted to see if his “2nd choice” formation/forward line would work well enough to help out in the Europa ties.

    However until Pardwho realises that Obertan is a waste of a position then we’ll continue to suffer from his unimaginative indolence. For Obertan in 2012 read Duff in 2006/7 and both equally injury prone.

  32. Workey
    Wondered how come most of your article sounded so familiar, then realised i had written it all before on this blog.
    (Though less of a war and peace effort i might add.)
    But you have it (f not actually in a nutshell) exactly whats going on in the transfer market.
    And yes KAMAR in reply to your question, Llambias and the other gadgie, are there just to relay Ashley’s questions and answers, in regards to the deal.
    They are no more than mouthpieces, with no authority to make a deal, believe it.
    If most who read this blog , think there is a new system in place,(spending money) think again, leopards dont change their spots it’s the same old cheap-ass Ashley, now trying to buy top players for nowt.
    Look the guy is a success in business, one cant argue with facts.
    But his history is one of buying once famous sports brands, now reduced possibly through bad management, to
    lackluster business’s barely surviving, Lonsdale, Slazinger, etc. and attempting to revive them by retaiing their brands through his bargain basement outlets (sports direct)
    His present interest in Rangers is purely in persuit of acquiring the contracts to possibly have the manufactoring rights and retailing lock for Sports Direct, of a club with a massive fan base, who buy a lotta shirts.
    Look at the mans preditory history and ask yourself the question, would you buy a used car from this guy ?
    And does anyone beieve this guy has the best interest’s of NUFC at heart, or does he even have a heart ?

  33. Rangers’ debt was almost as high as Newcastle United’s when it went tits up. It was over £130 million.

    Aye, of course Chuck, I’m just a plagiarist who copies all your wonderful comments to recycle them into blogs. I have absolutely no capacity for independent thought.

  34. Debuchy’s latest baby sulk to Canal+

    “I don’t want to talk about my future. I heard what the chairman said. The transfer window is open until Sept. 4 [in France]. I still want to go. We will see.”