Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Two hit the road as ASBO eyes exit

Today bought confirmation that Shefki Kuqi and Sol Campbell have both taken their sizeable frames away from St James' Park, the former moving on with Pardew's ringing endorsement that some of the region's lower league teams should take a look at him.

Without wanting to criticise the player, who reports suggest has been an amiable presence around the club, the fact that Pardew is touting him to teams in the lower leagues clearly illustrates something we all knew back when he signed - simply that Kuqi isn't really good enough for the Premier League (certainly not at this stage of his career).

On the subject of departures, the more important piece of news emerging today is that ASBO has failed to reach agreement with the club on a new contract, and with one year left on his current deal it means that the player could hold on for a year and leave for free next summer, or alternatively that the club might feel compelled to sell him now to recoup some money.

Of course, the same issue arose with Steven Taylor last year, with the central defender eventually signing a new contract last December. So, with agent Willie McKay on board, this could all just be a game of brinkmanship with the club.

What it does do is increase the pressure on the club to bring in some quality sooner rather than later, to demonstrate to ASBO, Enrique et al that this is a club with ambition and which plans on challenging higher up the league next season.

On the one hand, ASBO has been a real asset for us this year, with a string of excellent performances on the pitch. However, in the balance goes the previous years of his contract when he was either in jail, injured, suspended or out of form. As you'll no doubt have realised if you've followed this blog for any length of time, we aren't his number one fans, so don't expect to see us crying into our pints when he eventually leaves.

If he is to go, I'd rather he didn't simply leave when his contract expired, and like any contract negotiation, part of me is disgusted by the avarice displayed by players who readily demonstrate that they don't care about clubs or fans, but only about their bank balances. (However, I do accept that as a player you only have a brief career and generally speaking most people want to maximise their income when they're working.)

What it almost certainly means is a summer in which we read of ASBO being linked with every club under the sun until he either signs a new contract or someone makes a decent offer for him and we cash in.

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