Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Ins, outs, downs, (call) ups

In: John Carver, named as Alan Pardew's right-hand man for the rest of the season. It's a homecoming for the man who worked under King Kev, Kenny Dalglish and Ruud Gullit before becoming assistant to Sir Bobby Robson. Since leaving the club when Graeme Soumess took charge in September 2004, he's toured the country, pitching up at Leeds, Luton, Plymouth and most recently Sheffield United (as assistant to ex-Toon midfielder and now Wales boss Gary Speed), and even had a managerial spell of just over a year across the pond with MLS outfit Toronto. The arrangement is only temporary at present, but Pardew has hailed Carver's "excellent track record as a coach" and also suggested that the returning Geordie's prior knowledge of life at St James' Park will come in useful.

Out: Wayne Routledge, who looks to be on his way back to QPR, just a year after they sold him to us. It's a loan deal that will, apparently, become permanent if the Londoners maintain their current position and follow us up to the Premier League. The winger was arguably our most effective signing of last January's transfer window, adding a fresh dimension to the squad and contributing assists and goals just when we needed a boost to maintain our trajectory towards promotion. I, at least, had hopes that after disappointing top-flight spells with Spurs, Villa, Fulham and Crystal Palace, Routledge would at last shine in the Premier League - but it hasn't really happened, not least because ASBO and his superior set-piece delivery has kept him largely sidelined. The decision to let him go suggests that a replacement may be forthcoming (Sebastian Larsson perhaps?), but also narrows our options somewhat - without Routledge we have very few players who can terrorise defenders with sheer pace.

Down: Alan Smith, who hobbled away from the Stadium of Shite on Sunday with an ankle injury - his Achilles heel, so to speak. It's tempting to venture that the enforced absence of the slow, clumsy bludger might actually be beneficial to the side, with the more creative duo of Danny Guthrie and Dan Gosling waiting in the wings. But the fact that Spurs, one of the most dangerous offensive sides in the league, are our visitors on Saturday means that lining up with a defensive midfielder is definitely desirable - Cheik Tiote's idiotic ban looking all the more potentially damaging.

(Call) up: Big Lad, who at the age of 29 looks set to make his international bow for Nigeria, the country of his birth, against Guatemala next month. The former England U21 man enthused (in his best Geordie accent): "I didn't think twice about finally returning home". In turning out for the Super Eagles he'll be following in the footsteps of two recent players remembered with varying degrees of affection on Tyneside: Obafemi Martins and Celestine Babayaro.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wasn't Geremi Cameroonian?

9:11 am  
Anonymous Nathan said...

Geremi is from Cameroon

9:18 am  
Anonymous Jebou said...

I thought Geremi was Cameroonian.

9:39 am  
Blogger Ben said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1:15 pm  
Blogger Ben said...

Indeed he was. Obviously shuddering at the thought of Celestine Babayaro's "performances" also had me inadvertently recalling Geremi's exploits in black and white.

Post now corrected.

1:16 pm  

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