JUN 01] THE STUART LINNELL
There's More To A Transfer Than Meets The Eye
There may be more to Craig
Bellamy’s transfer to Newcastle United than Coventry City
cutting their losses with a player who has, frankly, been a huge
Could it be, I wonder, that by
selling the young Welsh international to the Tyneside club that
we are getting our own back for Darren Huckerby?
I jest, of course, but the
similarities between the two are clear. Both have tremendous
pace (I would be fascinated to see how they got on if put on a
cinder track alongside our Olympic sprinters), both regularly
hint at an immense amount of skill with a football, but both
have consistently failed to deliver as regular, match-winning,
Huckerby, of course, signed for
Coventry in a bid to get regular first-team football because
Newcastle, managed at the time by Kevin Keegan, did not then
operate a reserve team. He arrived apparently oblivious of the
offside law, and his debut last season for his fourth club,
Manchester City, ironically at Highfield Road, suggested that he
still does not understand it.
To be fair to Bellamy, he arrived
at Coventry with two major handicaps – firstly he had been out
of action for around twelve months after breaking his leg, and
secondly he was dubbed, more than a little unfairly, as Robbie
I know many will also point to
his transfer fee, reported at around £6million, as an
indication of what those at Coventry City who saw fit to sign
him, expected him to achieve.
£6million is a significant
amount of money for most of the clubs in the bottom half of the
Premiership, but consider for a moment what Patrick Vieira is
reported by The Sun to have said about Arsenal:
"When I told Arsene Wenger
I was leaving, he said to me 'I have £25million to spend on a
"My answer was 'Obviously,
Mr Wenger, you are not shopping in Harrods. That will only buy
you one good player.”
City fans who fondly remember the
glory of ’87 will also recall John Sillett’s famous quote
about how he was going to build a new Sky Blues side off the
back of the FA Cup success, how we he was now going to shop at
Harrod’s instead of Woolworth’s.
The result? The charismatic and
delightful David Speedie, but little else. Twelve years later,
Craig Bellamy arrives for a record fee, but a fee that,
according to Vieira, is only a quarter of what you need today to
buy “one good player”.
Now Bellamy is on his way to
Newcastle, subject to a medical and all the other usual
formalities, with City recouping their outlay in return.
Meanwhile, Moustapha Hadji, at
one time set to move to Aston Villa to partner Moroccan
team-mate Hassan Kachloul, could now be set to join Ipswich who
were gazumped by Villa in the chase to sign Kachloul.
And we all know how keen we are
to do business with Villa anyway. The Sky Blues hierarchy trust
their opposite numbers at Villa Park like a bird trusts a cat.
Not to mention the number of
recent instances where players have moved from one Premiership
club to another via the continent. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbank went
abroad when he left Leeds, only to eventually sign for Chelsea,
reports suggest that Emmanuelle Petit is about to sign for
Chelsea or Manchester United, after moving from Arsenal to
Barcelona, and we know all about Robbie Keane going to Italy and
then to Leeds within a season.
You might ask whether Leeds
feared a fans backlash if they’d sold Hasselbank to another
English club in the first place, and whether the same applied to
Petit leaving Arsenal and Keane leaving Coventry.
There’s probably nothing in it,
other than the wild flights of conspiracy theory fancy of a
writer suffering from heat stroke in the middle of an English
But I have been following and
reporting on football long enough to know that for every
transfer there’s a story that very rarely gets told. Take it
from me, there’s far more to a transfer than meets the eye.