Once again it has been far from a quiet summer at St. James’ Park, with more focus fixed upon the controversial owner Mike Ashley.
After a season that saw them re-establish their status as a settled Premier League club, the last thing that was needed was to rip the spine from the team.
The key trio of defender Luis Enrique and midfielders Kevin Nolan and Joey Barton all had contract negotiations that needed finalising one way or the other.
Unfortunately for the Newcastle supporters, each situation has been concluded with the departures of the three players from the North-East.
Nolan was the first to go; having asked for a five-year deal to see out his career at St. James’ Park, Ashley refused to agree to these terms.
Therefore they sold their influential skipper to a club that was willing to offer a long-term deal to Nolan in West Ham United.
Barton and Enrique had already upset the Newcastle hierarchy by voicing their displeasure about the way the club was run via Twitter.
Both had wanted to see considerable re-investment into the squad following the sale of star striker Andy Carroll to Liverpool for £35 million, something that was promised to manager Alan Pardew following the sale in January.
In the end, it led to Enrique joining Liverpool for £5.5 million, while Barton signed a four-year deal with newly-promoted Queens Park Rangers on Friday.
Despite calls from the duo for money to be given to Pardew, there have been new arrivals during pre-season.
Demba Ba, Gabriel Obertan, Yohan Cabaye, Sylvain Marveaux, Mehdi Abeid have all joined, with the club focusing on bringing in younger players predominantly from the French market.
However, this doesn’t go to replace the experience they have lost, not only on the pitch but also off it.
A lot of these younger players coming in from overseas will have looked to the likes of Nolan, Barton and Enrique for help and guidance in order to settle into English football as quickly as possible.
This means that key figures such as Fabricio Colloccini, Steven Taylor and Steve Harper are going to have to step up both in the changing rooms and on the field.
Recent upheaval doesn’t mean that the Magpies are consigned to a season of struggle, and they have started the season brightly, with a 1-0 win away at fierce rivals Sunderland already providing the season with an early highlight.
All the fans want to see after witnessing managerial shake-ups and relegation over the last few years is a bit of stability – and only time will tell if the loss of Nolan, Barton and Enrique will come back to haunt Ashley.
So what do you think? Was Ashley right to let go of three important players? Or was he working in the best long-term interests of the club? Leave a comment to let us know your views.
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