Sunday, August 28, 2011

Auf Wiedersehen ASBO

One of the things I was asked to predict as part of a pre-season predictions competition at work was who Colin Wanker would fall out with first. At the time I thought the Little Waster was a very reasonable bet - now, though, there's a far more likely candidate in the Loftus Road dressing room...

ASBO's departure for QPR could hardly be described as amicable. In comments which will hardly have endeared him to the Hoops faithful, he declared bluntly that he would rather have stayed on Tyneside before taking an immodest swipe at the "decision makers" at his former club: "It is disappointing times and it's sad when Newcastle's best players are leaving to go elsewhere". (There was also a Fat Fred-esque reference to the "Geordie nation" in there.) Derek Llambiarse, for his part, retorted publicly with a backhanded compliment: "we wish to thank Joey for his on-field contributions to the team". Meanwhile, Alan Pardew once again found himself the stooge in the middle, left to reflect miserably on the number of times he's enthused about ASBO's positive attributes and insisted he'd be staying on Tyneside.

Let's look first at the positives surrounding the sale.

* ASBO may have been impressive in our first season back in the Premier League, but that followed three years of poor form punctuated with injuries, suspension and incarceration at Her Majesty's Pleasure. Who's to say he'd have been able to reprise last season's performances or stayed clear of the treatment room, the stands and the jail cell?

* He's often a liability on the pitch. Occasionally he's more sinned against than sinning, admittedly - last August's match at Wolves being a case in point - but generally you feared for him being a ticking time-bomb. Anyone who disagrees need only be reminded of the defeat to Liverpool in May 2009, which saw ASBO pick up a stupid red card and subsequent suspension, dealing our chances of Premier League survival a significant blow. No wonder Wor Al was furious.

* He's a troublemaker off the pitch. While he might have claimed to speak for the fans and the players, and to have had the club's best interests at heart, there's no doubt that he's an incorrigible egotist. Similarly, while you might criticise Jabba's intolerance and suppression of dissent (he appears determined to impose what psychologists call groupthink), ASBO must have known that by sounding off against Jabba on Twitter he would be causing damage to the club and was effectively engineering and accelerating a move away from St James' Park. Honesty, or at least honesty in the public realm, isn't always the best policy. And all this is quite apart from his propensity for violence.

* With Yohan Cabaye having quickly settled into the side and makeshift left-back Ryan Taylor rattling in the free-kicks (albeit only until a permanent replacement for Jose Enrique is sourced), ASBO's dead-ball prowess is unlikely to be missed too much.

* The vacancy on the right flank will give Pardew the opportunity to put out a more attacking side. Gabriel Obertan might be the prime candidate for the position at the moment, thought there's also the option of switching Spidermag to that side to create a space for Sylvain Marveaux. Either alternative would give us additional pace and width.

I trust you're sensing that there's a BUT following all this. And there is - much as it pains me to say it, having been far from ASBO's biggest fan and indeed someone who, prior to last season, would have happily have seen him booted out of the club without a second thought.

* Cabaye and Mr T are certainly useful assets but we're bound to suffer from the reduced level of tenacity, drive and bite in midfield, especially away from home.

* Despite his regular run-ins with the hierarchy, ASBO did have a way of galvanising and spurring on the players - even if it did at times mean he looked like Begbie.

* While Rocky and Enrique (two former team-mates ASBO was alluding to in his reference to our "best players") were destined for greater things and we were compensated with fees we couldn't reasonably reject, ASBO has, like Kevin Nolan, been bombed out for non-footballing reasons and his departure weakens the squad. Worse still, unlike Nolan, we didn't get any money for him (not that we should really need it, with the money we've already banked from player sales...) And worst of all, we've spent all summer fruitlessly seeking a striker and left-back and now, with just four days left before the transfer window shuts, we've got a midfielder to find too. Hands up who's confident we'll manage to bring in sufficient bodies, let alone those of the calibre we need? No, Alan, I wasn't asking you...

So, after today's game our next league fixture will be away at QPR on a Monday night for the pleasure of Sky's viewing public. Wonder if they'll be able to think up a suitably spicy angle for that one...

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Anonymous qprmad said...

Barton has gone so get over it.Get a life.See ya on the 12th xx

7:06 pm  

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