Former Toon striker Micky Quinn has launched a scathing attack on the head honchos at Newcastle United and in the process has confirmed that Arsenal have a legitimate interest in Joey Barton, which I originally doubted.
In an interview with talkSPORT, Quinn said:
“I know through a third party that Arsenal have enquired about Joey Barton. What I’m gutted about as an ex-Newcastle player is that the spine of the team, the personality of the team is going to be gone.
“Why are they letting players like Joey Barton go if they have any ambition, but it’s only going to Arsenal’s gain. He’ll put a bit of steel into that Arsenal team, he goes forward, he was made captain, he’s grown up and he said himself that he’s making up for lost time for stupidity and injury, he wants to get to the top.
“I think Joey has settled down a lot now, we know he’s a bit of a hot-head, we know he’s paid on and off the pitch for his stupidity but he’s settled down.
“I’m past judging Mike Ashley and his decisions, they make no rhyme or reason. Joey Barton has got one year left on his contract and I thought with the likes of Kevin Nolan they could actually take Newcastle into the top eight of the Premier League and add to the likes of Cheik Tiote instead of selling their best players all the time.
“What they’re trying to do is bring in cheap foreign players a bit like Tiote, they’ve had one player that they bought for £3million and they’re trying to go down the same route. What doesn’t make sense to me is the players that they’re bringing in from all over Europe don’t know Newcastle, they don’t know how the city works, it is cold up there.
“If they get a lot of foreign players in they need to hit the ground running next season because we know the Premier League is unforgiving and there’s only one way they’re going to go – down.“
One of the questions Quinn asks is why we’re letting players like Joey Barton go. Well first let’s clarify that he’s gone nowhere at the time of writing, but the various suggestions I’ve seen as to why the club is letting players like Barton and Nolan go include:
- a general policy of getting rid of older players in favour of younger ones,
- to reduce the club’s wage bill,
- to deliberately break up a ‘clique’ that has existed in the club since Hughton’s time as manager,
- to (at least in Barton’s case) rid themselves of someone who’s been critical of Ashley lately.
Or any combination thereof.
There are arguments either way. Assuming Barton joins Nolan in the departure lounge, some would argue that’s only two players gone and we still have the likes of Jonas, Colo, Saylor etc. as ‘older hands’. Of course that’s assuming that none of these other ‘older hands’ leave too.
Others would argue that Nolan and Barton (in particular) have characterised the team spirit that got us promoted and established back in the Premier League, that they still have plenty to offer and that they should not have been sold.
I’m of the opinion that there’s a middle ground somewhere, although I’m not entirely sure where that is. I believe there needs to be a balance between youth and experience but I don’t know exactly what needs to be on either side of the scales to maintain that balance.
I guess the decisions of Ashley and co can only be judged in retrospect. If, next summer, we’re flying high then the head honchos at our club will have earned a pat on the back for good vision. If we’re fighting a relegation battle – or, worse yet, actually relegated – then they’ll get a battering.
It’s Ashley’s gamble.