Why Shearer is right, and wrong about Ashley’s lack of investment

Posted on December 18th, 2012 | 42 Comments |

Alan Shearer.
"Spend, spend spend" says Shearer.
Writing in his column for the Sun, Alan Shearer has laid the blame squarely at the door of Mike Ashley for the Newcastle United’s current lack of form.

“Newcastle missed a huge opportunity in the summer” he began, continuing:

“Having punched above their weight last season and almost made it into the top four [sic], this was the time to spend. The club was up and running again after so many years mired in uncertainty. There was once again a feel-good factor and even Mike Ashley was enjoying it. But he needed to put his hand in his pocket and strengthen with two or three quality players. The best time to buy is when you are in a position of strength.”

Which is fair enough, especially the last sentence which is very true. “Momentum” is vital in football, something which the ex Toon hitman acknowledged himself when he continued later in the piece:

“Sadly the momentum built up by Alan Pardew last season has been lost and Saturday (Newcastle’s 1-3 defeat to Man City) was a stark example of that.”

We have certainly lost momentum. However, to be fair to Pardew and the squad we already have, losing the way we did to what was one of the best performances from the League champions so far this season certainly wasn’t the starkest example by any means. The team did try to play in a better way, and we actually didn’t look too shabby in parts. Perhaps there’s even been the odd sign of “green shoots of recovery” in some bits of recent games. We Toon fans often suffer from delusions though!

We’ll have to start winnning now however, even if the club is planning to make a major investment in the squad. If Ashley makes a belated decision to improve the squad in the January transfer window, all the clubs will know of his desperation if we’re hovering above, or even in the bottom three in January. Of course, desperation will leave selling clubs in a much stronger bargaining position, making his parsimonious penny pinching of the Summer, which reached ridiculous levels in the pursuit of players such as Mathieu Debuchy, Douglas and several others look like even more of an inept strategy. Besides that, you can be sure that any potential targets will find a club looking at a potential relegation battle and possible demotion to the second tier FAR less appealing than a club which, in the Summer, had just finished fifth in the Premiership and was looking forward to a season of European football.

However, although Shearer is completely correct that the club needed to strengthen to push on, to look to improve, or even just hold on their position amongst the European places, blaming a lack of more purchases in the Summer window for our current position of 15th (and falling) would surely be taking things too far? Just tell that to Alan Pardew’s predecessor, Chris Hughton, who is currently seventh in the Premiership with a squad assembled for a fraction of the price of Newcastle’s. You can bet that he would love to have players such as Hatem Ben Arfa, Demba Ba, Yohan Cabaye, Fabricio Coloccini, Papiss Cisse, Vurnon Anita and more in his squad.

Looking at the German football market site, “Transfermarkt,” they value Newcastle United’s current first team squad at a total of £140 million, the seventh highest in the Premiership. Meanwhile, Hughton’s at Norwich is valued at a mere £53 million, slightly more of the third of total value of the Newcastle squad, and the second lowest in the Premiership. I don’t wish to labour the point, or claim that Transfermarkt’s estimates of each individual player are accurate in every detail in a field which can be subjective and unpredictable (Andy Carroll has never been valued at anywhere near £35 million on there!). However, dear reader, I think you get the point as to the relative strength of squads such as ours next to those of several sides who are easily outperforming us in the Premiership. Swansea (£65 million), West Bromwich Albion (£70 million), Fulham (£72 million), West Ham (£80.5 million) and Stoke City (£81.5 million), all of whom are outperforming Newcastle United. Whatever the accuracy of those estimates, all of those teams have weaker squads in general than Newcastle United, and it shouldn’t be the case that Newcastle need a squad which is twice as good as anyone else’s to merely achieve mediocrity.

Of course, there is always the “Europe” card too, which has been played several times this season by our Silver Supremo (along with injuries and other things). When this explaination didn’t swim initially due to the club’s top “purple” players being largely protected, with several bairns and fringe players stepping into the fray, Pardew further explained that it was the break with routine involved in preparing for Thursday evening games which was the real problem. However, Roy Hodgson took a lesser Fulham squad all the way to a meeting with the mighty Atletico Madrid in the 2010 final of that competition while finishing comfortably in mid table that season (12th). In the world of revised expectations, I’ll bet that there’s at least a few fans out there who wouldn’t turn their nose up at another 12th placed finish right now?

Newcastle United’s long balls.
Newcastle United v Manchester City – 15/12/12.
Team TP LB LB %
Newcastle United 406 53 13.1%
Manchester City 357 26 07.3%
Fulham F.C. v Newcastle United – 10/12/12.
Fulham 401 59 14.7%
Newcastle United 475 68 14.3%
Newcastle United v Wigan Athletic – 03/12/12.
Newcastle United 471 51 10.8%
Wigan Athletic 459 51 11.1%
Stoke City v Newcastle United – 28/11/12.
Stoke City 366 54 14.8%
Newcastle Utd 344 64 18.6%
Southampton v Newcastle United – 25/11/12.
Southampton 339 44 13.0%
Newcastle Utd 332 78 23.5%
Newcastle United v Swansea City – 17/11/2012.
Newcastle Utd 439 69 15.7%
Swansea City 406 39 09.6%
TP – Total Passes.
LB – Long Balls (over 25 yards).
LB % – Long Ball %.
All stats by OPTA.

Finally there is the “Elephant in the room” (for Pardew anyway). That is the one dimensional “route one” tactics which have been employed for so many games of this season, with Newcastle beating the likes of Reading, Stoke and West Ham to be the biggest “long ball” side in the Premiership so far this season. Whilst there is no exact scale to determime how many long balls (defined by Premiership stats gurus OPTA as passes over 25 yards) constitute “too many”, but no team have ever managed any sustained success of the kind Newcastle United should be having in recent years with this method. Rather, it has been the way of the plucky underdog trying to even up the odds, not the style of a major club who can draw 50,000 through it’s turnstyles every other week.

Long ball high priests, Stoke, did manage a to make last season’s Europa League thanks to reaching the FA Cup final, but they only finished 13th in the League that season, and 14th in their Europa League season. Another direct side, Alex McLeish’s Birmingham City, also managed the same feat in the same season after winning the League Cup, though they were relegated the season they won their League Cup. The first example, if not the second, shows that like Fulham before them, form in the League need not be hugely affected, even with a limited squad, and certainly nothing like the same amount as Newcastle United’s has been this season so far.

A Toon goal machine of a more modern vintage than Shearer, Demba Ba, has very recently broken ranks and spoke of Pardew’s long balls problem in an interview for French TV programme L’Equipe du Dimanche. he told them:

“I’m not happy when the team does not create anything. Fans come to see beautiful games with beautiful actions and not long balls from the goalkeeper to the striker.”

In fairness to Pardew though, there have been signs of a different approach resulting in some better football. This is something which Ba himself mentioned later in his interview. Speaking on our next game against Queens Park Rangers he said:

“Next Saturday against QPR, if we make mistakes the fans will become more demanding. If we play like we did against City, we should win. Don’t forget it was the champions we played last Saturday.”

Pardew maintained that it was against Stoke where things started to improve, though I would say it was more in the game against Wigan when our style of play really started to change for the better. As you can see in the table above, the Stoke game was just more long balls. However, it was hard to gauge much that was significant from that Wigan game as we played nearly all of it against only 10 players thanks to a very obliging referee. So unfortunately, looking for any “green shoots of recovery” that could give us back the momentum we still only have a few defeats to go on so far really. Because of this, our next game against Queens Park Rangers will be a crucial point in the season. That the result will be the most important thing for now goes without saying, but the style of our performance will also be very important too.

We need to get back the momentum Shearer speaks of. Reinforcing the squad will be very important in that, but “spend, spend, spend” Shearer seems to think that money is the answer to everything, mentioning nothing about Pardew’s tactics. He takes the lazy and incorrect option of blaming the players instead:

“Last year when Newcastle had the ball there were options all around. Now, because they are struggling, options are limited. Players are hiding. It is easy to play well when everything is going for you. The real test comes in times of trouble.”

They are the same players Alan, that was the whole point of your article in the first place. They were the ones who made last season such a success, and they’ve had some of the same breaks they had last season too. The one for Tim Krul in our Europa game against Atromitos and the goal that wasn’t for Everton are the first two which spring to mind but there are a few more.

It’s Ba who is far more on the money in his quotes above. It’s the tactics and we’ve been rumbled, like many sides before us who have had initial success after promotion. Thankfully though, there have been some small signs that things are changing.

Let’s hope it continues.


NUFCBlog Author: workyticket workyticket has written 1093 articles on this blog.

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42 Responses

  1. Whilst I definitely think that we needed investment during the summer (increased schedule, inevitable injury issues), there are some very valid points raised in this article.

    The long-ball issue, was always going to be a concern (Pardew has previous), but, there have been definite signs of improvement. Also for concern, is our reliance upon HBA for any signs of creativity.

    There are way too many players, that appear to be way too ‘comfortable’ with mediocrity at the moment (Cisse, Santon, Tiote, Jonas), but the question remains, do we have sufficient strength, to drop these players? All this said though, there are many teams, that would struggle, without the likes of Raylor, Stevie T, Cabaye & HBA. The game against QPR is massive for us, win, and we can go into the Arsenal & Man Utd games with a bit of confidence, lose, and the games after those, look even more daunting (Everton, Norwich & Villa in particular).

  2. The last couple of games have shown a marked improvement in performances. We were very unlucky at Fulham and created something like 16 goal attemps, two cleared off the line and one hit the post. Another hit the post but was ruled offside. Against City we have most possetion and created quite a lot chances. Our passing in midfield has also been better with Anita doing extremely well and very rarely giving the ball away. Probably Tiote is the most guilty of taking too long on the ball and giving a few stray passes, so far, luckely this has not cost us a goal yet. But general gameplay seems to be getting better and better. If we can get the points against QPR I wouldnt be surprised if we string a few decent results together and start to climb the table again.

  3. I think SillySod makes a great deal of sense. Hopefully, we have bottomed out. (Thanks Worky for the article.)

  4. i think most people you will ask about newcastle utd, will cite the lack of investment in the summer, and the extra european games on top of a demanding prem calendar, and cup games to boot.

    personally i think that people are starting to look at the stark reality, of the situation we find ourselves in.
    when you take out all the things that are being said atm, it will always return to the fact, that alan pardew is a poor manager, and is in no way the answer, to supposedly take us to the next level.
    i have known this from day one, along with a lot of other people.
    a lot of fans got swept along with the fervour of finishing 5th, but it was really just papering over the cracks.
    all that happened was one of ashley’s gambles came off for him, and he got away with it.
    all you have to do is look at pardew’s record, to see what was around the corner.
    all alan pardew is as a manager, is he’s a good stop gap, that you have for a short period.
    if he gets the gig for longer, he normally fails, when he has to put his own stamp, on a club.

    you could give alan pardew a hundred mill to assemble a side, and i reckon he still couldn’t do it, he just hasn’t got the ability, he would mess it up, without a doubt.
    added to the fact, you could have lionel messi playing here, and pardew wouldn’t use him properly.

    alan pardew is like an open book, as what we are seeing now, is him going into the meltdown phase, where he starts ranting and raving, and coming out with bizarre statements to the press, which will inevitably end with him getting the sack.

  5. joe hawkins says:
    December 18, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    “you could have lionel messi playing here, and pardew wouldn’t use him properly.”

    He had Messi’s mates, Tevez and Mascherano, and he didn’t know what to do with them. He played Harewood instead of Tevez, or played him out of position. He played Hayden Mullins instead of Mascherano too.

    At Corinthians Tevez scored 25 goals in 35 games, but when he moved to Pardew’s West Ham, he went 13 games without scoring.

    Pardew’s incompetence has been truly chilling at times when he’s been managing at the highest level, but Llambias thinks he’s a great manager anyway.

  6. Not liking the chronicle story about our aim being to sign 1 player and not lose any. I’m sure a few weeks ago we were talking about aiming to sign at least 2….

    Similair thing happened pre season. There was talk of signing 2-3 more players at 1 point but then as the transfer window drew closer it was reduced to 1 or 2 and then we didn’t end up signing any (this was after we’d signed Anita I believe) The reasoning was that we didn’t want to reduce the 1st team chances of our promising young players but that isn’t working out too well.

    Think we need 2 defenders and if Ba leaves we obviously need a replacement for him too.

  7. Paulos says:
    December 19, 2012 at 12:50 am

    “Similair thing happened pre season. There was talk of signing 2-3 more players at 1 point but then as the transfer window drew closer it was reduced to 1 or 2 and then we didn’t end up signing any (this was after we’d signed Anita I believe) The reasoning was that we didn’t want to reduce the 1st team chances of our promising young players but that isn’t working out too well.”

    Season ticket deadline Paulos. When was that in the timeline of this talk about signing players?

  8. There appears to be a very strong rumour that we are close to signing Loic Remy, trouble is tnat even if we do he will probably only replace Ba who may have his taxi to Arsenal already booked.

    Anyone planning to spend Friday on Mt. Bugarach?

  9. all this talk of ba’s impending departure, and 7 mil contract clauses.
    the fact will always remain on him, whenever a potential club wants him, most are scared off, when they see his road map knee.
    you also have to factor into the equation, the bloke cannot pass a medical.
    anyone requiring his services, has to look to take a risk on him, and be prepared to take a loss, if his knee goes.
    i could only really see a man city or a psg, willing to do it.

    so the “silver supremo” has cancelled the xmas party, is that because they couldn’t pass the parcel between them?
    he has also admitted he and the board, should have signed one more player, try 3 or 4 more alan!
    seriously deluded are messrs ashley, llambias, and pardew, more damning indictments, that this unholy trinity, should be nowhere near football club ownership, and management.

  10. joe hawkins says:
    December 19, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    “the fact will always remain on him, whenever a potential club wants him, most are scared off, when they see his road map knee.
    you also have to factor into the equation, the bloke cannot pass a medical.
    anyone requiring his services, has to look to take a risk on him, and be prepared to take a loss, if his knee goes.”

    Joe, Ba may have a suspect knee which has caused him problems with medicals in the past, but Loic Remy has a potential heart defect which delayed his move to Marseilles too.

  11. And how much is the club supposedly bidding for this Remy chap anyway? £15 million? That’s the kind of amount Marseilles will be looking to get for a Franch International striker, even if he is having a goal drought ATM. And how much will Ashley save by getting rid of Ba?

    I can’t see Ashley paying £15 million if he needed reassurances from the SS that Cisse was “value” at £8 million, especially with Remy’s goal drought problem as well. We’ll need someone who’s all ready to go and score like Ba is if he’s off, not another Torres who form needs to be rescued. There’ll be no point in putting in one of those joke half price bids like last time either, especially as Ashley will be a distressed buyer.

    This whole Remy thing just doesn’t add up to me.

  12. worky, if that’s the case, we shouldn’t be going anywhere near him.
    nothing against remi, but i would hate to see a repeat of what happened to fabrice muamba.
    then again the unholy trinity will be sniffing around, if they can somehow push through a cut price deal, because of the complications.
    there will be something rotten in denmark, that’s for sure.
    loic remi want’s to see what happened to joe kinnear, ashley nearly finished the poor b***ard off, inside of 3 months, and ashley must have known of his heart problems.

  13. Joe, to be fair, Marseille’s medical advisors did say that they thought he’d be ok nonetheless and Marseilles proceeded to sign him after his medical. But he is valued at over £15 million currently as a French International striker, and of course, NUFC may run into the same problems if they try to sell him and get a return on what would be an unprecedented investment by Ashley.

    It’s just that this little detail, along with the others I mentioned above just make this story sound like bollocks to me.

  14. I certainly don’t get why we would (media rumors) want to do a deal, of getting rid of possibly the best goalscoring center forward in any league.
    To bring in a replacement, who is sitting on the bench, for the most part at Marseille, not only for a reported ten million, but to also include a player (Obertan/Marveaux)
    The reason being , he wants more money.
    Errmm ! yes he’s worth it and it would be a lot cheaper to pay him an increase in wages than to spend the equivelent of around fourteen million on a questionable Remy plus give them a player.
    If this is the deal, then i’m flabbergasted.
    And can only concur with the last sentance written by
    Joe Hawkins @ 11#.

  15. I don’t hate Ba, players come and go in the circle of football life.

    Especially as they might get the chance to a better paying more sucessful club, I wouldn’t blame them.

    We have been a useful showcase for him and I would bet thats how most of the good imports look at us with the odd exception.

    Kanu went to Arsenal with heart problems and did ok, I wouldn’t have thought there would be any problems as long as they were known about and could be monitered.

    I believe Muambas was not a known problem till it happened.

  16. Typo

    Especially as they might get the chance to go to a better paying more sucessful club, I wouldn’t blame them.

  17. Alan Shearer was one of the greats, when it came to scoring goals and won the adulation of the so called Geordie Nation.
    However he’s proven to be a bit boring as a punster, plus his managerial debut was what can only be described as pathetic.
    I still cringe when thinking about watching those last eight games.
    As for his knowledge of the business side, that was apparent, following relegation, when he apparently priced himself out of the job, plus asked for money for players.
    As dumb as the duo of Ashley and Llambias are, they obviously felt like i did watching Shearer and a renewed offer was never on the table, plus they were astute enough to recognised, a windfall with the Carrpll deal.
    We have been lucky to an extent in the market, but are far from being a top four yet.
    I just cant account for the fact we did’nt strengthen our defense, during the summer, i mean everyone was aware our schedule, would increase and with a thin squad, plus the normal run of injuries at this club.
    I cant say i believe Pardew or even Llambias is to blame, i lay the blame entirely on Ashley and believe he is, through his parsimony, combined with ignorance, totally to blame.
    On saying that, i also believe this club will never achieve any success until we install a GM who knows about football, plus a manager with the same knowledge.

  18. Interesting to see, there’s are already mention of the departure of Pardew on the News Now page for Newcastle Utd.
    Which i’m sure most fans both in the stands and on this blog, have both interest, plus their particular favorite or even more than one choice, for the job.
    Was wondering could we have some sort of poll, as to who we would like to see take over the reins, who knows may quicken the proceedure of Pardews inevitable deperture.

  19. I can’t find anything to disagree with in that column. He’s a bit melodramatic but I get his point about this City match. Last season we expected to be in it. This year, we’re making excuses for a 3-1 loss: “nobody could have lived with them.” He wasn’t as harsh as he could have been: of the scant four players brought in, two have yet to appear in the league. His overall point is, to me, unassailable. Last offseason, we could have pushed on-next offseason, we’ll be picking up the pieces after a relegation scrap or preparing for the 2nd division.

    Yes, a large part of the blame for our form falls on AP but a.) can’t say I’m surprised Shearer doesn’t call him out and b.) he’s just one of Ashley’s creatures anyway and another example of his lack of ambition for the club.

    So if you ask me, Shearer’s right and I’m guessing if you were his mate and talking to him at the pub he’d admit we need a new manager too.

    The Remy thing could only be our front office thinking they’ll get him at a knock-down price because he’s not scoring ATM. Doubt it, personally.

    Dare say Hughes would be an improvement. Don’t rate Sparky as a tactician at all but he could probably motivate.

    Now HBA’s out for a few weeks. Not good.

  20. tunyc says:
    December 19, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    “chuck @ 23: Roberto di Matteo or Gus Poyet”

    Two of Dennis Wise’s best mates. They could sack Carr and bring Wise back to win the fans over :-)

    tunyc says:
    December 19, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    “I can’t find anything to disagree with in that column. He’s a bit melodramatic but I get his point about this City match. Last season we expected to be in it.”

    tunyc, we were beaten by exactly the same margin (2 goals) in our last home game against the Citizens, and we were also beaten by a 2 goal margin at their place in the game before that, so we’ve been very consistent there.

    “Yes, a large part of the blame for our form falls on AP but a.) can’t say I’m surprised Shearer doesn’t call him out”

    But are you unsurprised that he called the players out?

  21. Chuck says:
    December 19, 2012 at 5:30 pm

    “Was wondering could we have some sort of poll, as to who we would like to see take over the reins, who knows may quicken the proceedure of Pardews inevitable deperture.”

    Chuck, as much as I’ve carped on about Pardew since he was appointed, and wailed over what a catastrophic decision it would be in the long term sacking St.Christopher, doing that whilst Pardew is still in the dugout just doesn’t seen right to me, however popular it might be.

  22. I mentioned Kenny Jackett the other day but got no responses, he is doing a good job on limited resources at Millwall and I doubt if he would be an Ashley lick *rse.

  23. Grumpy Old-Toon says:
    December 19, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    “I mentioned Kenny Jackett the other day but got no responses”

    Grumpy, inspired by you comment, I did make a mental note to ask my Millwall mate about him next time I see him. He’s hardly pulled up any trees in the lower leagues yet though, and if he wasn’t an “Ashley lick *rse” as you so charmingly put it, he probably wouldn’t last very long anyway.

  24. I say screw him, he’s nothing but a con-man, that goes for both his boss and the other idiot Llambias.

    Yeah i know you have a certain ethical code as Blogmeister and understand your personal unwillingness.

    However thats why i initiated it myself and take full responsibility for my statements on the matter.

    It’s basically just something i would like to get a reading on, nothing worse than some of the stuff being said about.
    In the words of Joe Hawkins “this unholy triumvirate” or something.

  25. Worky, Aye I did consider whether MA would want someone who didn’t err, toe the line. ;)

    On the other hand he shouldn’t be as expensive as some other possibles.

  26. It would be quite funny if Ashley told Llambias he had to get in touch with Hughton to offer him his old job back after his bright idea to sack him, and what he said about him subsequently in the Llambiasgate tapes. It would be even funnier if he then told Pardew he wanted to bring Wayne “not good enough for Noocarssel” back now he’s having it off with Swansea.

  27. I would think by this stage, it should be apparent to all.
    That unless there’s an entire sea change made by Ashley.
    Nothing will change, just more of the same.
    An unhappy group of fans, awaiting the time when an owner who believes he has invented a system of operating a football club playing in the most demanding league in the world, on a shoestring.
    Plus the fact of only hiring yes men, which reinforces his belief and only prolongs the agony.
    Perhaps he should look at those clubs currently making money, profit that is.
    I believe you will find they are also among the biggest spenders.
    Not that i’m saying like Shearer, money solves all problems.
    We can look at Comoli and Dalglish, who blew it big time at Liverpool.
    But fair play to the Fenway Group, who were smart enough (thats their business professional sports) to cut their losses and dump those responsible.
    They replaced the GM and Manager and are i believe on
    the road to becoming a successful side, without paying the enormous fees of the Comoli/Dalglish era.
    I dont know where the concensus for not strengthening the side this summer came from, but it has proved to be not so clever, with our now fighting a relegation battle and no relief in sight.
    Pardew does’nt have a clue and is being criticised by his playes for playing hoofball (Ba)
    If right steps are not taken and the sooner the better, this club could very well miss out on the rewards of the largest revenues ever, for membership in the PL.
    Who would be affected ?
    Obvious question, think most NUFC fans enjoyed that championship seaso, at least we won a lotta games.
    But it cost an arm and a leg, ah well, aint my money.

  28. Chuck says:
    December 19, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    “Perhaps he should look at those clubs currently making money, profit that is.
    I believe you will find they are also among the biggest spenders.”

    But Chuck, Newcastle United made the biggest profit last time they did a comparative study. Thanks to player trading it made a profit of £32.6 million. I think that’s what it was anyway.

  29. worky-I am a bit surprised he named players. I think his not calling out AP is due to his ambition to enter that college of pro managers you’ve mentioned lately. AP is, for better or worse, a member and probably has connects.

    As for Wise’s mates: I’m not that bothered. Di Matteo would be a workable stopgap who I imagine would consider coming here. He worked under Abramovich. He knows nutty owners. Poyet I actually like and I don’t care with whom he’s associated.

  30. Watched the above video and yes , does sound like Poyet, (good player) who by the way has not exactly set the leagues on fire with any brilliant management skills.
    Then watched a bunch of who appeared to be, a bunch of Slavic Poseurs in some what appeared to be panel show , where the audience asked (the poseurs questions.
    Just wondering, where and what the f**ck that was about ?
    It was called “Velanda Su Ruta” any idea ?

  31. Meant to make a quick comment re: NUFC’s profit in the last available fiscal year, which is now a long rant. The accounts for the year ending June 2011 show an net profit (after tax) of 32.6m, with a change in cash flows of 19.9m. Profits are greater than cash flows for 2011 because expenses purchasing players and paying agent and signing on fees are spread throughout the length of a player’s contract (amortization), while player sales are recognized immediately. The accounts show that we got 31m in player sales and paid out 25.57m.

    Since June 2011, we have made major purchases in Santon, Cisse, and Anita, with some other minor in and outgoings. For simplicity, let’s pretend that the other players balance each other out. Together, those players represent a cash outflow of 25m. We also have SUBSTANTIALLY increased the wage bill. Ba, Cabaye(purchased in June 2011 and their wages would not have made much of a difference for the fiscal year ending June ’11), Cisse, Anita, and Santon are all among our second tier of wage earners I am sure (lower than Colo, higher than say Willo, Perch or Simpson). Let’s say they all make 50k a week. That’s 12.5m a year in wages for the five – 5 of our best players, that Ashley has bought in the last 18 months.

    I can’t remember what we made on the Virgin deal, but because ticket prices are frozen and the new TV deal hasn’t kicked in, we a net 25m outflow in transfers (probably more, Amalfatino, Bigi) and an extra 12.5m in wages (18 months for Ba and Cabaye, 14 for Santon, 11 for Cisse, 4 for Anita, averages 12 months of wages paid). Basically a cash outflow of about 35-40m over the last 18 months.

    Finally, there’s a lot written about Ashley’s 140m loan to the club. The loan is interest free and was made about 5 years ago. Ashley could have invested elsewhere and earned, say, 7%. With compounding, Ashley could have earned 56.35m over those 5 years with his 140m. That is his opportunity cost of leaving 140m of his wealth in the club, while not extracting money from interest or dividends (unlike Hall, Shepherd, etc.).

    Basically, return the blame to Mike Ashley! Also blame Pards. Let’s play attractive, passing football, even though we lack the MFs to pass it around. Cabaye and Tiote were absolutely CRUCIAL last term to us controlling midfield, and Guthrie played an important role as well when one of the others was unavailable. We actually have missed Guthrie a lot, so shame on Ashley for not investing in a replacement. What’s that? We bought Anita and signed Amalfatino on Carr’s recommendation? It’s taken time for Anita to settle and Amalfitano may have been a rare Carr mistake. Cabaye has been hopelessly off form, and Jonas has simply lost the steam to help out in the center of the park. Pards has opted for hoofball because we can’t pass the ball around – I have watched every minute, and we have often failed when we’ve tried, at least until the last few matches when Anita has finally been brought up to speed. Hoofball worked better under Hughton and early Pards, as Carroll and Bestie were MILES better at holding the ball up than are Cisse and Ba.

    While I again wrote WAY too much, I don’t think we can blame Ashley or Pards as much as people keep saying. The most important players from last term have been either missing or hopelessly off form – and remember, we really didn’t pass it that well last season either, except for the end of the year when HBA, Cabaye, Tiote, Cisse, and Colo were all on TOP form and available for selection. Add an improved Santon and a settled Anita to the mix with one more quality defender, and this team will finish comfortably mid table in the second half of the season. Rant over.