Wednesday 8 July ~
Jonas Gutierrez and (Sir) Fred Goodwin are names not often found in the same sentence. But the pair share more similarities than it might seem. Both were paid handsomely to do a job that mattered to a substantial portion of the public; both failed to do that job; and both have gained personally from their incompetence and left others to pick up the pieces. Sir Fred's story has been documented well elsewhere, but Gutierrez's is a tale less told. Newcastle signed the promising winger from Real Mallorca last summer for £5.2 million.
Despite his 23 appearances, the Argentine failed to register a single goal for his new club, depriving us of the chance to witness his Spiderman goal celebration. Newcastle's ills are multifaceted and no one person can take the blame for their relegation, but Gutierrez did as little as anyone else to keep the team in the Premier League.
The 26-year-old declared over the weekend that, despite signing a five-year deal with Newcastle last season, he was not willing to stay at the club and help them fight their way out of the Championship. "It is no dream of mine," said Gutierrez on the task ahead of Newcastle. The player has not returned to training and, according to today's papers, has been offered a move to Roma.
The two biggest flops at Newcastle last season – Gutierrez and Michael Owen – have been the two people to benefit most from Newcastle's demise. Neither player deems Championship football to be worthy of their standard and they are making their escapes to bigger clubs. Bizarrely, relegation has benefited their careers. The inevitable fall in income at Newcastle means the club needs to offload their expensive players, leaving Gutierrez and Owen free to negotiate new moves. Had Newcastle stayed up, they could have afforded to pay Gutierrez and he would not now be on a plane to Rome.
This curious case illustrates bad management on the part of Mike Ashley and the Newcastle directors, but it also displays the lack of honour required and expected from professional footballers. Neither Gutierrez, nor Owen for that matter, have recognised that they have any culpability for the relegation of their club. Football fans have to put up with a lot, but they should be able to count on a simple sense of responsibility from the players whose wages they pay. Paul Campbell