Monday, September 03, 2007

The final flurry

Strange, isn't it, how football clubs - multi-million pound businesses - leave everything to the very last available minute? No fewer than five different transfers involving Newcastle were completed on Friday.

Most notable was the departure of Nobby Solano who, in his desire to move closer to his estranged wife and kids in London, has signed for West Ham, Alan Curbishley's latest acquisition in an apparent bid to reconstruct the Toon side of two years ago. The decision to let Nobby leave is one I find difficult to understand, particularly given the injuries to Stephen Carr and Peter Ramage. Solano proved himself an adaptable and reliable right-back last season, also providing additional creativity and craft on that flank. Since returning from Villa on deadline day 2005 he never quite hit the heights of his first spell on Tyneside, but remained a hugely popular player with the fans. Hopefully we'll get the chance to show our appreciation and say goodbye properly when the Hammers are our visitors in a fortnight's time.

Solano's loss has been partially compensated for by the arrival of Habib Beye from Marseille. The 29-year-old can play at right-back, and may well find that position is his before long. But with David Rozehnal and Cacapa looking capable of forming a strong partnership, it would be a shame if there was no place in the side for Steven Taylor.

Also pitching up on Tyneside on Friday, after weeks of speculation, was Bolton's Senegalese player Abdoulaye Faye, who can play at centre-back or add defensive steel to the midfield. With Geremi performing so well, it's Nicky Butt who's likely to find his place most under threat.

Meanwhile Paul Huntington was a surprise departee, leaving St James's for Dennis Wise's lovable and hard-done-to Leeds Utd. As Huntington's a promising England U19 defender who coped relatively well with being thrust into emergency first team action last season, it seems curious that Fat Sam has sanctioned a permanent rather than just a loan move. Presumably, though, the influx of defenders convinced him at least one of the youngsters was surplus to requirements - but a couple more injuries and we may be regretting that decision too.

If Solano's departure is likely to be mourned by many, few will shed any tears over the news that Albert Luque has signed for Ajax. A brilliant player when we bought him, Luque proved to be a spectacularly expensive failure whose attitude and application were always questionable and whose talent seemed to evaporate overnight. Just watch him turn it on for the Dutch side now, though...

(Wigan match report to follow.)


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