Cast your minds back to the 2005/2006 season. Now Newcastle manager Alan Pardew is in charge of West Ham, and Arsenal have just beaten Real Madrid in the Champions League last sixteen. The headline read, “Arsenal are flying the flag for Britain.”
Cue Pardew to launch an astonishing attack upon Arsenal’s transfer policy, citing a lack of British players and accusing them of threatening “the soul of British football – the English player.”
“I saw a headline saying Arsenal are flying the flag for Britain. I kind of wondered where that British involvement actually was when I looked at their team. It’s important that top clubs don’t lose sight of the fact that it’s the English Premier League and English players should be involved.”
“We have a young team at West Ham and we are proud we have so many Englishmen. I think that’s important, I really do.”
Alan Pardew speaking to the BBC in March 2006.
Fast forward to the present day. Newcastle have just unveilved Yoan Gouffran as their latest signing from Bordeaux, and with Massadio Haidara and Moussa Sissoko also on their way to the Magpies they will soon have TEN Frenchmen on their books. Not to mention the other French speaking players already in the squad (Tiote and Cisse).
Newcastle’s starting eleven on Saturday for the defeat against Reading had one Englishman, Mike Williamson. (Not counting Shola Ameobi as he is now capped by Nigeria.) With the signings of Haidara and Yanga-Mbwia, Williamson will most likely find his place at threat, leading to the high possibility of an all-foreign starting team for Newcastle. This contrast so sharply to Pardew’s previous comments, and raises several interesting points.
Is Pardew being given any measure of control over whom the club bring in? Is he happy to leave behind his previous ethics in favour of players from abroad? Obviously nobody will know the true workings of Newcastle United’s transfer policy, but it does not reflect well on the manager given his previous quotes.
There are also more significant things to worry about, with Gerard Houllier this week predicting the huge number of French speaking players would cause havoc in the dressing room. “You can’t stop the French speaking French. The dressing room will be unbalanced. There will be problems.”
This is not to mention a tweet from Sammy Ameobi saying “Need to brush up on my French because this is getting ridiculous.” While this does seem all in good humour, it raises interesting and potentially damaging questions for Newcastle.
Where is the young English talent coming through the Newcastle academy?
As Jamie Redknapp said this week, it simply isn’t there. He recalled playing against Lee Clark and Steve Watson in his youth, highlighted the likes of Gascoigne and Waddle, not to mention the fact that Alan Shearer and Michael Carrick actually began at Wallsend Boys Club before moving away.
If Pardew and his men keep on bringing in these foreign players, there is less and less hope of English talent coming through the ranks at Newcastle, a sorry state of affairs.
Perhaps somebody should remind the London born manager of his previous comments, and now it looks as though he is the one threatening the soul of British football. A look at the current Arsenal team, the same club he so vehemently criticised, shows they now have Carl Jenkinson, Kieran Gibbs, Jack Wilshire, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott and then Aaron Ramsey from Wales all in their latest match-day squad. How the times have changed.
What do you make of Newcastle’s transfer policy? Would you like to see more British players on show at St James’ Park? Let us know your views and thoughts, either on Twitter or via the comments section below.
By Harry Aitkenhead