With Manchester United and City aiming to offload some of their players in the summer, Newcastle went sniffing for a bargain. Neighbours Sunderland might have snapped up a couple of defenders, but the Magpies brought in a Red Devil of their own in the form of Gabriel Obertan. However, would Alan Pardew have been better served to do his shopping in the blue half of Manchester? With an England international in the form of Shaun Wright-Phillips available, I would argue that he would have been.
For me, Newcastle’s game against QPR at Loftus Road on Monday showed the Toon Army what they could have had. While Obertan wasn’t particularly poor, he didn’t stamp his mark on the match in the way that SWP most certainly did. Ryan Taylor isn’t a natural left back, but Wright-Phillips ran him ragged and any Newcastle fan would have found it hard to begrudge him a goal. So why did Newcastle turn down an established Premier League player in favour of someone who can realistically only be described as a flop?
The answer comes in the form of Newcastle’s transfer policy. Obertan ticked all the boxes as far as the Newcastle hierarchy were concerned. He’s French, he’s 22 and he cost just £3 million. SWP on the other hand would have commanded much higher wages, probably cost a fair bit more in terms of a transfer fee, and at 29 has little re-sale value. However, I would argue that Newcastle have gone about their business the wrong way.
In principal I support Newcastle’s policy of scouring Europe for the best young players and picking them up on the cheap, rather than paying a premium on English players from the Premier League. However, you do need a core of players with experience of domestic English football in your squad and with Newcastle having lost Kevin Nolan and Joey Barton in the summer, that’s a lot of theirs gone. QPR on the other hand have brought in a load of Premier League players, with more than half having a lot of top flight experience in this country under their belt and it showed on Monday when they were clearly the better team.
Newcastle were very poor going forward on Monday and will need to drastically improve against Aston Villa this weekend. Someone like SWP would have been a great attacking threat, but instead we’ve got Obertan who has plenty to prove. Newcastle might have done their shopping in the Trafford Centre in the summer, but they’d have been better off buying a little gem from the Etihad Stadium.