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Bobby McMahon

Bobby McMahon

You can see me on Soccer Central most Mondays and Thursdays on Rogers Sportsnet in Canada. I write a regular column for and and frequently guest on various podcasts and radio shows.


Newcastle The Biggest Loser – Really?

Written by on February 4, 2011 | 39 Comments »
Posted in Newcastle United

I was more than a bit taken a back when I visited another website on Tuesday morning. As with many soccer sites much of the focus was on the transfer dealings of the day before and in particular the Torres to Chelsea; Carroll to Liverpool deals.

The attention given to the two strikers wasn’t what I found odd, it was two polls that asked readers to vote on the Biggest Winners and then the Biggest Losers – not the TV show but rather which Premier League club came out on the short end of the dealings.

A scan of the first poll (the Biggest Winner) showed no sign of Newcastle – strange. Down to the “loser” poll and there was Newcastle.

I made a mental note to check back later in the week. Earlier today I did just that and to my astonishment I discovered that Newcastle had walked away with the Biggest Loser title – as of this morning near 45% of the votes had gone to Newcastle.

A quick review of the facts;

  • Before the midweek games Newcastle, a newly promoted side, were sitting 9th in the Premier League, had eight teams and 7 points between themselves and a relegation spot.
  • Newcastle’s last four games had been played without Andy Carroll who was out through a thigh injury and Newcastle had won 2 and drawn 2.
  • In the previous 8 matches with Carroll in the side Newcastle had won only 1, drawn 2 and lost 5.
  • Newcastle, has averaged 1.16 points per game with him in the line up this season and 2 points per game without him
  • Carroll is 22 years old and has appeared in 41 Premier League games while starting in 24 of them.
  • Carroll has scored 11 goals this season and only once has he scored more than a single goal in a Premier League match.
  • According to the official Premier League website he has also chipped in with 6 assists. Not an inconsequential number but it still leaves him trailing behind other forwards/midfielders like Wayne Rooney, Andrei Arshavin, Didier Drogba and Peter Crouch.
  • Carroll has one cap for England no European Club competition experience

These are, in my best Rafa Benitez tone, “the facts.” It may not be a “fact” but it has been widely reported and accepted that Liverpool paid around $55M to Newcastle to sign Andy Carroll.

The point is not that Liverpool paid well over the odds – a subject debated long and hard earlier this week. The issue is that 45% of fans, who I can only assume believe themselves to be well informed, think that Newcastle have been screwed over by accepting $55M for a player with the resume listed above.

If a club with $55M in their jeans cannot strengthen their side then what hope is there for other clubs. How often have we heard this week that clubs spending “that” kind of money are insane? If the poll result is any indication the insanity has spread like wildfire.

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39 responses to “Newcastle The Biggest Loser – Really?”

  1. Theo van Arshavregas says:

    I think NUFC have made out like bandits. They should be able to avoid the drop and come summer that £35M will go a long way to strengthen their team while keeping some change from that loot to boot. Not so sure about the wisdom of the poll takers. Maybe they are just video game players?

  2. J says:


    The reason I’m 45% sure that Newcastle were the biggest losers is ’cause I’m not seeing any of that $55 million coming my way. I paid for a ticket thinking I was going to see Mr. Carroll (WC 2014 Striker Don’t-You-Know!) and now I’m looking at Nile Ranger and a not-too-distant memory of getting the drop. No player in return.

    Yes, Mr. Henry spent a lot of money, but the Reds got two recognizable players. He’s a baseball man, so he’s used to taking an expensive flyer, now and then.

    Oh, and you’ll have to pardon me for the lack of security I find in $55 million in the hands of magpie management.

    – Mr. Fan

  3. Bobby C says:

    I think you’re massively missing the point here. Most of the outrage from the fans in Newcastle lies with Ashley, and their distrust of this man. Pardew has claimed that they will spend every penny in the transfer market. Fans are hugely skeptical of that idea.

    Moreover, while Carroll is still raw, he has the potential to be one of the top strikers in the EPL. But with newcastle as a limping, mid-table team, they’ll have a hard time attracting top talent. So it’s not as though they just can go out and spend 20 million on Hulk or Suarez with big reputation.

    Finally, I think they’ll get held ransom the same way Liverpool did (may be not as much) with the Torres money (I know the price was also partly due to it being transfer deadline day). Other clubs will demand a higher premium for their players because they know newcastle can afford to pay 20 million for someone like Ashley Young (who with 12 months left on the contract is worth at most 12 million). Right after the window closed Ian Holloway moaned about how Liverpool didn’t want to spend the Torres money on Charlie Adam.

  4. Fab4 says:

    Bobby – An off-topic but time-sensitive question: what do you think will be the most widely watched sporting event in the world on Sunday?

    Considering the Super Bowl starts in the middle of the night in Asia and Europe, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was Chelsea-Liverpool.

  5. Gus Keri says:


    Just for curiousity, I went and checked those results and here what I found

    The last 2 wins without Carroll were agianst West Ham and Wegan (relagarion sides)
    One of the 2 draws was against Sunderland which they beat 5-1 when Carroll was playing.
    You forgot to mention that they lost to “Stevenage” in the FA cup without him also.

    Earlier in the season, when Carroll was playing, they recorded few huge wins agaisnt Arsenal and Liverpool, Everton, Chelsea and the 6-0 agianst Aston Villa.

    I guess, Bobby, that numbers alone don’t tell the whole story.


    i am pulling for LFC this weekend might be more a revenge play instead of using my brain.would love to see Suarez get a brace and Reina a clean sheet.i think Torres did LFC and the fan base wrong.i am sure TVa will come up with some kind of snarky post.just remember he has to pull for a frenchman.

  7. Gus Keri says:


    I feel it’s going to be a classic game. I hope I will be able to control my nerves.

  8. Theo van Arshavregas says:

    Torres didn’t do LFC wrong. Torres did all he could for LFC and he came there with the intention of playing CL footy. LFC let Torres down by not being able to field a CL calibre team. If he stays, he may never play in UCL ever again. The lad is 26 and is in his prime. And there is only so much Europa League footy a guy with his skill set can take. I don’t blame him one bit and deep in every Fool fan’s heart they know it to be true too.

    Up the Arse! Go you Gunners!

    Sorry Gus … couldn’t resist. It’s gFyr fault. Incitement.


    Forest won at pride park for the first time ever so anything is possible.CFC back 4 can be had and Cech has been a little off.King Kenny sprinkle some magic dust on the boys boots .you will be fine and just remember YOU WILL NOT WALK ALONE!

  10. GO FOREST YOU REDS says:

    was it snarky or the frenchman that incited this response?

  11. Gus Keri says:


    I don’t want to start another thread about Torres. I already said a lot about it.

    But to clarify, I agree with all what you said.
    I will add that last year, after the WC, Liverpool fans accepted the fact that Torres was leaving and we didn’t blame him.
    He had a chance to leave then and it would’ve been ok.
    The objection was for the timing. I don’t want to repeat what I wrote before.

    By the way, I like the Frenchman. I think he transformed the team from one of the most “boring” team in the English league to the most “excting” one to watch.

  12. Gus Keri says:


    If you think I have some kind of complex against France and the Franch soccer, think again.

  13. FAb4 – It will not be Chelsea v Liverpool. The game will do well to hit anything close to 40m. Don’t believe the Premier League hype of billions watching – it is not true.

  14. GO FOREST YOU REDS says:

    i was just having some fun with TVa i did not mean to imply anything.he is a great manager.hope you understand i was just joking.

  15. Gus Keri says:


    I know that you were joking.
    {By the way, sometime prejudice starts as joking.}

  16. Gus Keri says:


    I don’t know how you feel about Findley joining Nottingham Forest.
    I have to admit though, I haven’t been watching your team. Do you guys need him?

  17. E says:

    “Not an inconsequential number but it still leaves him trailing behind other forwards/midfielders like Wayne Rooney, Andrei Arshavin, Didier Drogba and Peter Crouch.”

    Er, Bobby, you realize these four players play for teams in the top 5 of the table, right? Players don’t score goals or create chances in a vacuum, they require teammates to do it. Andy Carroll played for Newcastle. Connect the dots.

  18. Astronomer says:

    You asked us not to believe the EPL hype about billions watching.

    How about the hype that comes out from the mouths of the gasbags of the NFL? They also claim (or claimed until a couple of years back) a global viewership of nearly one billion for the super bowl.

    YEAH, RIGHT! As if people people in other parts of the world give a rat’s ass about the super bowl. Most people elsewhere don’t even understand the rules of the game. So why would they watch it?

    I personally would not be surprised one bit if the big EPL showdown on Sunday has a slightly bigger global audience than American throwball’s big showcase event (the vast majority of whom will be Americans).

  19. Gus

    You would also have seen in checking the results that Newcastle lost games against teams you might have expected them to beat when Carroll played. You don’t get extra points for beating better teams – in fact beating the likes of Wigan and West Ham is far more important if your concern is relegation.

  20. Astronomer – You are correct. The NFL do the same thing as do other events like the Olympics. I once read that the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games opening ceremonies claimed a world audience of 1B. Crazy and no relation to reality.

    The Super Bowl only generates numbers in North America. It will up in the 100m range (depending on what you consider a viewer to be) with a few million in the rest of the world.

    Remember that in the UK only a couple of million will watch the game on Sky while in the US it might be 300-400,000 on Fox Soccer. In Canada the game is on Setanta – subscription base around 60,000. The Far East viewership is continually exaggerated.

  21. Gus Keri says:


    I saw that. This is a strange season so far. All kind of awkward results.

    Therefore, using numbers alone is not reliable to make a conclusion especially if the number is small. It’s distant to change very fast.

    Loook at Newcastle now without Carroll. 6 games: 2 wins, 2 draws, 2 losses. (1.33 points per game; 1.6 if you discount the FA cup result). not impressive.

  22. GO FOREST YOU REDS says:

    your nesting doll is starting today and like i said no Song.good luck hope you can keep the pressure on MAN UTD.

  23. Gus Keri says:

    2-0 in 3 minutes?

  24. Ursusarctos – But wasn’t a large part of the rationale for Liverpool paying what they did for Carroll that it was a late deal and so they had to stump up?

    Newcastle would have had even less time and by making a deal would they not have just compounded the effect?

    The point you make about risk are well taken but surely there is another layer. Newcastle knew that Carroll was injured and likely to miss a month so the risk of playing without him for more a third of the remaining season had already been factored in.

    Were Newcastle fans overly vocal in calling for a signing to cover for Carroll’s injury?

    The other part of the financial puzzle is the size of the parachute payments. Even if Newcastle go down the size of the parachute payment and the Carroll transfer fee still means they would be ahead of the game financially

    So Newcastle are betting that with a 7 point lead (as of midweek) and a game in hand (and a good schedule) that they can stay up.

    If they go down they are probably ahead financially by 20m pounds; they stay up they have incremental Premier League money of around 15m pounds + 35M pounds to spend without time pressure.

    I cannot see how that would make them the Biggest Losers.

  25. And before someone jumps in with the Arsenal result. Losing big to Arsenal no more means Newcastle are going down than beating Aston Villa 6-0 meant they are guaranteed to stay up. As Davie Provan pointed out Newcastle could have fielded Keegan, Shearer and Carroll and it would not have stopped the goals Newcastle conceded.

    Perhaps a clue as to where they should spend some of the money?
    (Written at 0-4)

  26. Gus Keri says:


    What a come back

  27. Gus Keri says:

    The two penalties are very soft, I thought. The second one is foul by the Newcastle player.

    But what a strike Tiote

  28. Gus Keri says:

    My goodness!

    38 goals in 7 matches?

  29. GO FOREST YOU REDS says:

    WOW what a morning.TVa i don’t know what to say that is a bad about Forest in second with games in hand next game is huge away to it wrong to go into a match hoping for a draw?nice shot by Nani.

  30. Dundee off the bottom of the Scottish First Division even after a 25 points deduction. Well over a third of the season to – now if we can only come out Administration.

  31. GO FOREST YOU REDS says:

    does English Football have anything like the NFL a Hall Of Fame?

  32. There was the Football Museum in Preston but it is being relocated to Manchester and will re open later this year. The English Football Hall of Fame is housed within the Football Museum.

  33. GO FOREST YOU REDS says:

    thank you for the info.i am sure you would know this answer.which 2 current players and 2 current managers are already in the HOF?

  34. John Bladen says:

    The best time to sell a player who has “great potential” is when that potential is as yet unrealized, and the buyers are desperate.

    Carroll may turn out to be the next big thing. I can’t completely discount the possibility. However, you can look at the $$$ as ‘a bird in hand’ as well. The fact that they didn’t immediately run out and spend all of it on whomever was available doesn’t necessarily mean it will stay in Ashley’s pocket (or offset his bar tab). Even SAF isn’t buying this winter. And he has the money to do so, if there is value out there.

    The transfer market is supposed to be about finding bargains (or at very least, good value for the money spent), not using money to wallpaper over structural mistakes…

  35. GFYR – I would guess SAF and Dalglish. Players Beckham and Ryan Giggs?

  36. GO FOREST YOU REDS says:

    i misspoke their are 3 players and 3 managers so i apologize for making a hash of my question the other manager Wenger and the player is Paul Scholes.i guess that is why you leave this to the professionals not some rank amateur.

  37. Ursusarctos – The relegation risk is further mitigated by the increase in parachute payments. Years 1 and 2 are the same amounts and another 50% in year 3 and year 4.

  38. John Bladen says:


    Man U has money available. The day that SAF is told he can’t buy a player he badly wants is the day he addresses the board for the final time.

    Part of the problem with the present transfer market is that fans demand a club that receives a massive fee immediately spend it on someone (often anyone…) Sometimes the best thing to do with money is put it in the bank…. the best deal available is not necessarily a good one.

    I would agree that Man U is somewhat fortunate to be where they are. But the fact is they are top of table and don’t look like being challenged. How much better can they do, domestically?

    If you believe the money the club got for CR has been pocketed by the Glazers (or used to pay down high cost debt – itself an investment in the future), can you give us a list of players Man U “should have” purchased?

    In the past couple of seasons, far more big money moves have been expensive failures than great successes.

  39. Ursusarctos says:


    “If you believe the money the club got for CR has been … used to pay down high cost debt – itself an investment in the future”

    I agree that is where the GBP 80m for CR most likely went – but I diagreed with your original assertion that Fergie “has the money to [be buying players this winter]”, NOT that the CR money is being used to pay down debt. It’s one or the other – either cash flow is going to debt service, or to asset acquisition, but the same money can’t do both …

    United did not win the PL last year, and the most obviously glaring problems this year have not been addressed. Ask yourself “what if” – if Fergie had shored up the defence and brought more creativity into the midfield, might United not have already run away with the League in a year when all the challengers have stumbled badly? Instead, Arsenal and City, at least, are still in the race, with United still to play a number of difficult matches (Chelsea 2 times and LFC at Anfield, to name several).

    United is in need of some serious investment for the long term, whether they end up winning the PL title this year or not. I’ll be betting that Fergie has to do some selling, BEFORE he has as much money as he might like to buy …

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