Newcastle: Cabaye Sale's The Last Straw As Ashley Sucks Life Out Of Our Club
It's been another one of those weeks on Tyneside. The sort of infuriating, agonising and depressing weeks that has now become commonplace under Mike Ashley's stewardship.
This week Newcastle once again cashed in their chips on one of their star players and banked a fortune. Like James Milner, Shay Given, Andy Carroll and Demba Ba before him, Yohan Cabaye was flogged off for huge profits as Mr Ashley cemented Newcastle’s position as the Premier League’s number one selling club.
If anyone was under any doubt regarding the current regime’s ambition for Newcastle United, let's be crystal clear here - there is NONE. Newcastle United have no interest in winning trophies, Newcastle United have no interest in competing for European places at the top of the league, Newcastle United have no interest in keeping their best players and building a team around them.
Newcastle's only interest is securing a place in the top ten of the Premier League and skimming all the financial rewards that come with this finish.
The club have openly admitted to having no interest in the cup competitions; they are deemed an unnecessary distraction from the primary objective of securing a top ten place. By the same token, Newcastle are also wary of doing too well and ending up in the Europa League again. The competition bears little financial reward, and as we all saw last season, it can do heavy damage to the league campaign.
This season Newcastle are pretty much having the perfect season as far as the owner is concerned. The club are currently sitting comfortably in eighth place, no danger of relegation, no Europa League, out of both pesky cup competitions nice and early, and now have £20m banked for Cabaye. Hell, in his eyes the team are so comfortable he probably doesn’t even need to spend any of the money on replacing him.
Under Ashley, Newcastle United has become a glorified version of one of the owner’s tacky shops. Rather than supplying the masses with Reebok Classics and trackie bottoms however, we supply Champions League teams with quality players. "In the market for a new centre forward Mr Chelsea? How about a lovely Demba Ba?" "In need of a classy midfield playmaker Monsieur Saint-Germain?? I've got just the thing!"
Europe is scoured for the best unearthed gems that the continent has to offer. They are then acquired for the cheapest possible fee (ideally with only 6/12 months left on their contracts) and are then allowed to flourish in the Premier League. It’s at this point where the lines get a little blurred. Many seem to foolishly think that the objective here is to create a competitive team at Newcastle – it is not. It's to create a half-decent side and then sell on the best players on for huge profits.
There seems to be a general acceptance amongst a few fans that the sale of Cabaye can be tolerated as long as the club get a good price, and that an acceptable replacement be signed with the money. As I’ve not been living in the caves of Tora Bora for the last seven years like others seemingly have, I’m a little more cynical.
There’s has been talk of Lyon midfielder Clement Grenier being signed as Cabaye’s replacement, but given the fact that I have no faith in JFK and Co. to actually seal the deal and get him “over the line”, I’ll believe it when I see it.
Newcastle are notorious for failing with late bids, so much so in fact, that I myself am highly dubious as to whether they actually make genuine attempts at signings (Ruiz/N’Zogbia/Carroll), or just create smokescreens designed to make to club look more active than they actually are as the window closes. Whatever happens between now and the close of the window, I do expect a sub-standard, cheaper replacement to be signed at some point (probably not until the summer). I’m pretty sure that he will cost about a fifth of the money received for Cabaye; the rest of the money will get tucked away nicely in Mike's back pocket.
What I am 100% certain about, is that if in a couple of years’ time this replacement actually turns out to be any good, he will then be sold for huge profits and the whole process will start again.
Once again we as fans won’t like it, there’ll be uproar on Twitter, we’ll b**** and we’ll moan, we’ll sing anti-Ashley songs, we might even hold a demonstration outside St. James’... But nothing will change.
Being a Newcastle fan under the current regime is something akin to being stuck in an endless labyrinth of tedium. I have gotten to the point with Ashley’s Newcastle now where I am really wondering what the point is anymore. Year after year we go nowhere, we achieve nothing – but significantly, that’s the club’s target. And that is what’s so f***ing galling.
We’re stuck in a self-created hamster wheel of mediocrity and I have now reached a point where I am sick to the back teeth of it. There are times when I really feel chucking my season ticket into the Tyne and start going to watch Gateshead instead. It’s a feeling that is becoming more and more common these days.
Of course I talk a good game but this probably won’t happen. I’ll do what I always do, what most of us always do, get the hump for a few days, have a moan, then filter back through the turnstiles in time for the next match. The really annoying thing is, Mike knows this is what we will do, his business is based around our faithfulness and it is this devotion that continues to line his pockets.
All this now brings us nicely to today’s derby. Many Newcastle fans might not like to hear it, but I give full credit to Sunderland. Whilst they may be having a poor league campaign, they have shown exactly what can be achieved in a cup competition if you actually make a fist of it. Their approach has been the exact opposite to that of Newcastle.
Sunderland are one win away from winning a trophy, and whilst it will be agony to potentially watch them win it – they’ll deserve all the plaudits they get if they actually do it. As an extremely jealous Geordie, I only wish that one day I can say the same about my team.
Derbies are notoriously hard to call, but I do believe that Newcastle, even without Remy and Cabaye, should still have enough quality to beat the old enemy. It’s been an incredibly frustrating week on Tyneside, but if this frustration is vented in the correct way, by creating a rocking and intimidating atmosphere, then a first derby victory since 2011 is there for the taking.
If on the other hand, this frustration is vented the wrong way and Newcastle get off to a bad start on Saturday, then the atmosphere in the stadium could very quickly turn toxic. If that happens then trouble could well be on the cards for Pardew’s men, especially when you take into account Sunderland’s newly acquired high confidence.
Confidence they have acquired thanks to their excellent cup run – now isn’t it a good job that we don’t have that distraction?