Saturday, January 10, 2009

Loose lips and wagging tongues

If the papers are to be believed, there have been a few loose lips around St James's Park lately.

First of all, there are the quotes attributed to the Zog that appeared in L'Equipe: "I'm at a turning point in my career. My agents are talking with Tottenham and Villa and, from what they've told me, Arsenal could also be in the frame. I have a preference for the Gunners but they are three great clubs. I've spoken to my bosses at the club. They know what my aims are and what I want to continue to progress. As soon as a big club knocks on the door with a good offer, I don't think they'll prevent me leaving."

JFK's response was suitably indignant, suggesting he'd like to meet the Zog to get things straight in no uncertain terms and his agent to give him the blue hairdryer treatment: "We are looking into it. If it is true, then the agent is being disrespectful. He's never had the decency to explain anything to any member of this football club. It's laughable, to be honest. It's absolute nonsense. Charles is under contract until 2012, and I told him on day one that he was a very important player."

It's a sad sign of the times when he can consider the likes of Spurs and Villa - naturally our rivals and equals - to be "big clubs" when we're not. It's more bemusing that he expects to "continue to progress" more from sitting on the bench at the Emirates than he would in our first team. At Villa he'd have to displace Ashley Young (unlikely) and even 'Arry Redknapp, in the market for a left-sided midfielder, seems to have caught the continental squad rotation bug. I think he's right, though, that we wouldn't keep an unhappy player - just a shame if it comes to that.

Then there was the case of Obafemi Martins, whose agent was reported to have been rather scathing about the quality of treatment his client was receiving on Tyneside: "The Newcastle medical staff are woeful - Oba has been having this problem on and off and they failed to spot it. It was only when he went to Italy that the correct diagnosis was made, and he will have the operation this week. Look at the entire team. Viduka is injured, Alan Smith is injured, Nicky Butt is injured, and so many players. Even when Shearer was playing, how many times did he end up on the treatment table?"

Oba has since distanced himself from the comments, insisting: "I wish to make it perfectly clear that I have never criticised the medical team at Newcastle United, who all do an excellent job for the club". Not a good week for the Nigerian, though - not only was it been confirmed that he will need to undergo surgery for his hernia injury after all, he was also hit with a £950 fine and 6 points on his licence for a speeding offence.

Better news for Shola Ameobi, who recovered from the embarrassment of mistaking his own untidiness for the work of a burglar by signing a contract extension until 2012. Quite a turnaround for Big Lad, given that not so long ago he looked to be on his way out of the club for certain. Like most fans I've got serious doubts about whether he's even Premier League quality, let alone about whether his three goals in the autumn have merited this extension, but at the moment I suppose beggars can't be choosers and we just have to hope he can have his rarer-than-hen's-teeth blinders rather more often.


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