“Despite getting the best financial deal of the day you suspect Newcastle will end up being the window’s biggest losers.” – Adrian Clarke.
In a nutshell, that’s what Liverpool’s record £35m signing of Andy Carroll from Newcastle United boils down to – they got silly money that they couldn’t refuse, but with no time to reinforce the squad, they now face 4 months without one of their best players and might as well be dragged into a relegation battle given the tight nature of the bottom half of the table.
Andy Carroll has said that he didn’t want to leave Newcastle, and that the board asked him to sign a transfer request and basically ‘backed him into a corner’. Adrian (see his twitter stream from the link above) argues that clubs force players out all the time, and objectively speaking if Newcastle had received the £35m bid at any other point in the transfer window (or indeed the next summer) it would have been madness not to sell – £35m could easily be spent on much-needed strengthening of the playing squad.
Andy Carroll: “[Managing director] Derek [Llambias] asked me to hand in a transfer request, so I was pushed into a corner and had no choice. I wasn’t wanted by them and they made it clear they wanted the money.
Then I flew down in (owner Mike Ashley’s) helicopter. I didn’t want to leave.
I’m gutted that I wasn’t wanted at my home team after everything I have done and the progress I have made.
I didn’t want to leave at all. Make sure they know I didn’t want to leave.”
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew has hit back at Carroll’s claims of being ‘forced out’, saying that in light of Liverpool’s offer he had asked for a new contract (after recently signing a long-term deal) and that once that request was turned down, asked to leave.
Alan Pardew: “I went to see Andy, and face to face we had a conversation about him wanting a new contract, even though he signed on in October, and (he said) if he didn’t get that contract, he wanted to go.”
So what really happened?
Firstly, I don’t think Carroll wanted to go. He (or his agent) knew about the Liverpool offer, knew the wages that were on offer, and probably decided to use that as leverage to get an improved contract. Problem was, the money on the table was too high to be dismissed out of hand, and the wages on offer were too high to match for a club that has been desperately trying to curtail expenses / wages in the last two years.
Secondly, did the Newcastle ownership think it was a good deal to cash in on Andy Carroll when the first offer came in? Probably. You’d consider it, even if you knew that the club needed to keep the player to re-establish themselves in the Premier League, and that keeping Carroll in the face of bigger clubs making silly bids would bring them some much-needed credibility after the Hughton decision.
“Sounds like Carroll and his agent had their bluff called by Ashley. One push too far, owner cracks, game changes and Carroll’s in a corner.” – Iain Macintosh
It seems like Carroll went ahead and asked for a raise, and if so, it was rightly rejected by the Newcastle board for being too soon after his previous contract signing. And it also seems likely that Newcastle were aware that a big-money, last-minute move for the player was due to come in, and they had at least entertained the idea of
Newcastle say Carroll asked for a raise, and asked to leave if he didn’t get it. Carroll says he didn’t want to go. You can’t have both, so while it’s likely that Carroll did push for an improved contract, it also seems like Newcastle were less inclined to keep him than he (or anyone else) thought, and when they saw the money and Carroll’s strategy on the last day, they pushed the deal through.
Carroll, for what it’s worth, gets a bumper wage hike, a nice signing-on bonus while his agent gets a good deal too. He’s going to play in a bigger club with bigger aspirations, although the move is probably an year too soon for him and it remains to be seen if Liverpool can properly manage him.
Newcastle will suffer, although if Pardew can keep the team in the Premier League and is given the 35m to spend on rebuilding the squad this summer, they might come out of it all right.
Regardless of what fans may feel about agents, Mike Ashley and Alan Pardew (or young footballers), this is what happens when there’s a lot of money involved. Loyalties are cast aside, and only the ugly truth remains. The thing with football is, we spend so much time pretending this isn’t true that we get surprised every time it happens.