Monday, January 10, 2011

Swede talking

Today brought the first confirmation that Swedish international midfielder Sebastian Larsson could well be in line to follow Hatem Ben Arfa into the St James' Park dressing room on a permanent basis this January. Birmingham boss Alex McLeish admitted: "We gave his advisor permission to speak to Newcastle". Our interest in the former Arsenal man has been long-standing, prompted perhaps by his goal and outstanding performance in the demolition job the then-Championship Blues served up on Tyneside in January 2007.

With his contract up at the end of the season, Larsson's available on the cheap - but would he really represent a significant improvement on what we already have? I'm not convinced. If we're in the market for a wide midfielder, wouldn't we be better pursuing David Bentley, the man Birmingham seem to have earmarked to take Larsson's place?

In other news, we've lodged an appeal against Cheik Tiote's red card on Saturday - as I said in the match report, I don't hold out much hope of it being successful. Meanwhile, young defender Matthew Grieve, out on loan at Stockport, suffered a similarly traumatic Saturday as our first team, his debut coming as the Hatters were humiliated 5-1 on their own turf by Gillingham, a side who not so long ago couldn't win away but who now can't seem to break the habit.

Hopefully the same fate won't also befall Tamas Kadar, who's joined up with Lee Clark, Terry McDermott, Stevie Watson et al at Huddersfield, the club against whom he made his full Newcastle debut in 2009. The loan deal means that we're even shorter of cover for Jose Enrique, Saturday's display having underlined once again that James Perch is certainly no left back. Presumably Alan Pardew's taken the decision safe in the knowledge that the hole in our squad is about to be plugged. Only too aware of the way things usually pan out for us, though, I'd have been rather happier if we'd been more cautious and ensured we got in the player in first...

2011 may only be a few days old but has already claimed a long list of managerial casualties, and our former player Kevin Dillon is one of the latest to go (together with his ex-Mackem assistant Gary Owers). Dillon has left Aldershot by mutual consent, and .com have pointed out that he now joins Phil Parkinson, recently relieved of his duties at Charlton, among the ranks of out-of-work managers who've previously been number twos to Alan Pardew - who, coincidentally, just happens to be scouting around for a new assistant...

One man who won't be filling the vacancy is Steve Clarke, our former assistant and one-time caretaker manager having today taken up a position at Liverpool in support of someone else formerly of this parish, Kenny Dalglish.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember watching that FA Cup replay in disbelief when we lost 5-1 to Birmingham. At the time Larsson was being touted as a future star, especially since he was an Arsenal player on loan. But since that time it doesn't seem like he's progressed very much. He's not a goalscoring threat and his dead balls are rarely highlight material.

I think there's a reason Wenger let him go. He's just not good enough

12:13 pm  
Blogger Ben said...

Funnily enough he actually impressed me with his dead balls last night - see the post above.

As for Wenger, he's certainly got an eye for spotting young talent, but I suspect Larsson's departure from Arsenal was less a reflection of his own qualities as it was of the extremely high standards of the Gunners' first team. Someone who's sitting on the Arsenal bench week in week out is quite likely to be someone who could do an excellent job at a middling Premier League team.

5:42 pm  

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