Friday, April 27, 2007

Woodgategate: the saga ends

The story so far...

In January 2003 we paid £9m to Leeds Utd for the services of Jonathan Woodgate. Over the course of the next 17 months we saw him make a total of 36 appearances in black and white due to protracted injury problems, before Real Madrid came knocking and offered us £13.4m. Fat Fred duly bit their hand off while publicly suggesting the bid couldn't be refused.

Woodgate then endured two miserable seasons in the Spanish capital, taking months to make his first appearance for his new employers - and even then he contrived to score an own goal and then get himself sent off.

When the possibility of his returning to England was mooted last summer, we were quietly confident we'd be able to get him back - and how desperately we wanted it to happen; despite his myriad injury problems, Woodgate remains the best defender I've ever seen at St James' Park. So it was a hammer blow when he pitched up on Smogside, signing for his hometown club.

There remained a chink of light, though - the move was only a loan. Surely he'd soon come to realise the error of his ways and disregard those childhood loyalties?

But no. Despite having enjoyed an average season (to say the least), the Smoggies are today crowing about the fact that Woodgate has put pen to paper in a permanent deal worth £7m. And just when I was wondering whether it could get any more galling than knowing that he's been pretty much injury free and in imperious form all season...

I believe the word is "bollocks".


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