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Tino reconsidered...


OzzieMandias
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... by Rob Smyth in the Grauniad. Fair article, think:

 

Football's essence is its simplicity - 22 men, an inflated pig's bladder, an inflated ego with a whistle - but, as Leslie Grantham would tell you, sometimes a strength can also be a weakness. People rush to form straightforward opinions, to eschew contradictory evidence in favour of an easy, comforting discourse. Most football fans are less interested in the complex principles of cause-and-effect and more concerned with the simple concept of Coors-and-effect.

 

A prime example comes with the damning judgement given to the trio of players infamous for allegedly costing teams the title after being signed mid-season: Rodney Marsh for Manchester City in 1971-72, Tony Cascarino for Aston Villa in 1989-90, and Faustino Asprilla for Newcastle in 1995-96. The logic seems sound: the team were winning, they bought him, they stopped winning. Ergo, it's his fault.

 

It's a view so insultingly simplistic that it does not even deserve to come out of Alan Shearer's mouth. This is not to say that it is intrinsically wrong - although it was before this cherubic correspondent's time, all research suggests that Marsh was palpably the wrong stylistic choice for City - but that it is just too narrow. Such myriad factors contribute to a five-minute spell of a match, never mind half a season, that to pass off such a perception as gospel - when in fact it amounts to surmising that 2+2=5 - is more than a little flawed.

 

There is no question Newcastle's performances with Asprilla in the side were relatively poor: of his 14 games that season they won six, drew three and lost five. But that was only a continuation of the dodgy form - three wins in eight - leading up to his arrival. The fact is that they were starting to stagger, with or without him. Indeed, Asprilla had a significant influence on six of his first seven games. The problem is that the seventh, the 4-3 defeat to Liverpool, took the title out of Newcastle's hands for the first time. And even if Asprilla did not play as well after that, the fact is, when it really mattered, he was probably Newcastle's best player. He was one of the few who wasn't affected by the increasingly asphyxiating pressure. He was a sparkly new outfit, and he looked bloody good.

 

If you don't believe me, revisit those first seven games:

1. Middlesbrough away - Asprilla comes off the bench with Newcastle 1-0 down and completely changes the game, makes the equaliser for Steve Watson with an exquisite drag-back before Les Ferdinand scores the winner.

2. West Ham away - hits the post and was arguably Newcastle's best player, according to this article, in a 2-0 defeat.

3. Man City away - scores second equaliser in a ramshackle 3-3 draw.

4. Man Utd home - absolutely sublime for the first half as Newcastle dominate completely. United take iron grip on the game in the second half and win 1-0.

5. West Ham home - orchestrates an outstanding display and scores his first goal at St James' Park (click here to see Asprilla's Newcastle goals. It would have been 10-0 but for a glorious performance from the late Les Sealey.

6. Arsenal away - a quiet game as Newcastle lose 2-0.

7. Liverpool away - makes Newcastle's first equaliser with another glorious piece of skill and generally runs amok for the first hour. Puts Newcastle 3-2 ahead with delicious insouciance. That the lead was surrendered by a shower of a defence is not really his fault, is it?

 

There are many reasons why Newcastle lost the league. They lost it because Kevin Keegan lost his nerve and stopped coming to work with his usual empowering infectiousness before eventually imploding like [insert absurd simile here]; because the defence was a joke; because, by a quirk of the fixture list, almost all of the really tough away games were in the second half of the season; because Manchester United finished the season with an almost unprecedented run of 14 wins in 16 games; because Peter Schmeichel and Eric Cantona were in the form of their lives.

 

It was not because Newcastle bought Asprilla. In fact, it's arguable that signing Asprilla was one of the few things Keegan got right in that fraught second half of the season. Keegan bought Asprilla because he saw the danger signs. When he accosted Les Ferdinand in the showers after the 2-0 League Cup defeat at Arsenal to tell him of an imminent signing, Newcastle had won only three of their last eight games. Ferdinand, devastatingly prolific up to Christmas, was in the middle of a run of two goals in nine games. Keith Gillespie was starting to flag. Paul Kitson and Scott Sellars were the main attacking alternatives. For the first half of the season, Newcastle had been ingenuous and fearless. Now the gravity of what they were apparently about to achieve was starting to scare them. So was the pressure: in that League Cup game, David Ginola was sent off for easing an elbow into Lee Dixon's face.

 

Asprilla would do something similar to Keith Curle at Manchester City, putting the head on him, but that was more down to his inherent combustibility than any sense that the pressure was getting to him. Some would argue that this combustibility upset a happy dressing-room, yet there is no real evidence to support such a view. Indeed Shearer, who later played with Asprilla at Newcastle, apparently suggested that he was the most popular member of the squad.

 

Others would argue that Asprilla compromised an established system, but this is not strictly true: his addition necessitated merely a mild tweaking. In the first part of the season, Newcastle played 4-4-2 with a front six of Gillespie-Lee-Clark-Ginola and then Beardsley and Ferdinand. Then, for the first few games at least, it was Gillespie-Lee-Beardsley-Ginola and then Asprilla and Ferdinand. Essentially the change was Faustino Asprilla for Lee Clark. Try to look someone in the eye and tell them that, even allowing for the fact that football is more about teams than individuals, Asprilla for Clark is not an irresistible and significant upgrade.

 

What really did affect Newcastle's system, both philosophically and actually, was signing David Batty at the start of March. Batty, though a very good and underrated player, was arguably a much greater panic buy. While you can argue that defensive midfielders exist in a vacuum, and as such do not really affect a team's set-up, the fact is that until Batty signed Newcastle did not have a defensive midfielder, so his signing wrenched the team into an uncomfortable shape. And it didn't stop them shipping goals all over the place.

 

Yet Batty's signing is never questioned - perhaps because of his role, and perhaps because of the casual, almost unconscious racism that dogged English football at that stage. Batty is a simple player, the sort we instinctively trust. But it's the complicated players who often produce the simplest judgements of all.

 

http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/sport/2008/07/11/on_second_thoughts_faustino_as.html

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I dont even think Batty could be to blame either, as I remember Keegan played Clark in the "Holding Role" anyways, and although not his ideal postion still held his own. Therefore Batty was just Like for Like in my view. I would go more for how we ended up with a tough run-in, and the fact the players that started the season so well, dipped alarmingly in form as United's top players got better and better.

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I don't blame him for not winning the title, I think Keegans idea to boost the squad at that time was correct, but his judgemetn was wrong. He should have brought Zola. Arsprilla upset the balance of the team, but that wasn't his fault. Overall, he turned out to be a poor signing, he only had one memorable game but at least we almost got the fee back.

 

 

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what on earth caused this to be dragged up

 

Write to the Guardian and ask them. It's probably some despicable anti-Shepherd plot.

 

wouldn't touch it with yours, left wing student rag. Is the writer a friend of yours ?

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Guest elbee909

I don't blame him for not winning the title, I think Keegans idea to boost the squad at that time was correct, but his judgemetn was wrong. He should have brought Zola. Arsprilla upset the balance of the team, but that wasn't his fault. Overall, he turned out to be a poor signing, he only had one memorable game but at least we almost got the fee back.

 

 

 

Could at least have read the article.

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I don't blame him for not winning the title, I think Keegans idea to boost the squad at that time was correct, but his judgemetn was wrong. He should have brought Zola. Arsprilla upset the balance of the team, but that wasn't his fault. Overall, he turned out to be a poor signing, he only had one memorable game but at least we almost got the fee back.

 

 

 

Could at least have read the article.

 

I've read it. But :

 

1. I don't usually read this rag

 

2. Most of it has been said before.

 

3. I'm confident enough in my own view. I'm quite aware the team wasn't in top gear [i said that] but I think that the more crucial elements  were not having Venison who had been there before, and Fazackerly who had been allowed to go to Blackburn. My view on Arsprills is just that he was a bad signing.

 

Edit. Only the Guardian could bring a racism comment into this. Ridiculous.

 

 

 

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I never thought Tino lost us the title, our form had been tailing off from christmas that season, I saw every match that season.

 

I always thought, and still do, it was because Eric Cantona, won the tiltle for Man U..re

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I don't blame him for not winning the title, I think Keegans idea to boost the squad at that time was correct, but his judgemetn was wrong. He should have brought Zola. Arsprilla upset the balance of the team, but that wasn't his fault. Overall, he turned out to be a poor signing, he only had one memorable game but at least we almost got the fee back.

 

 

 

Thought he should have been rotated rather than started. You're right about Zola though!!!!!!

Couldn't say he was a poor signing because we DID get our money back (unusually :))

I'm sure KK wanted Signori first though....

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Guest Mucky01

all the teams sussed how to play against us, end of.

 

We played amazing attacking football which ripped teams apart, then by October teams sat back, played a wide ball out of defence on the break, our two isolated centrehalves shuffled across to cover the lack of full backs, the opposition then played a cross field ball to the opposite side, where the centrehalves had left a huge gap..... goal.

 

If you can’t remember watch the goals of that season, most were conceded that way, schoolboy coaching lost it.

 

 

 

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all the teams sussed how to play against us, end of.

 

We played amazing attacking football which ripped teams apart, then by October teams sat back, played a wide ball out of defence on the break, our two isolated centrehalves shuffled across to cover the lack of full backs, the opposition then played a cross field ball to the opposite side, where the centrehalves had left a huge gap..... goal.

 

If you can’t remember watch the goals of that season, most were conceded that way, schoolboy coaching lost it.

 

 

 

 

 

man u winning last 11 games won it

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Tino's signing certainly wasn't the only reason, but I think it was a mistake, if only in hindsight.

 

It wasn't so much his quality as a player, as the fact that KK broke up the Ferdinand-Beardsley partnership to accommodate him. They were the combination that was always dangerous, no matter how poorly we might be playing.

 

My memory is that the real weak link at the time was Gillespie. Sticking Beardsley in his position was like robbing Peter to pay Paul.

 

(no pun intended)

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I don't blame him for not winning the title, I think Keegans idea to boost the squad at that time was correct, but his judgemetn was wrong. He should have brought Zola. Arsprilla upset the balance of the team, but that wasn't his fault. Overall, he turned out to be a poor signing, he only had one memorable game but at least we almost got the fee back.

 

 

 

Were we even linked with Zola? We wanted Signori.

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I don't blame him for not winning the title, I think Keegans idea to boost the squad at that time was correct, but his judgemetn was wrong. He should have brought Zola. Arsprilla upset the balance of the team, but that wasn't his fault. Overall, he turned out to be a poor signing, he only had one memorable game but at least we almost got the fee back.

 

 

 

Were we even linked with Zola? We wanted Signori.

 

Zola played in the same team as Arsprilla, and was as close to Beardsley as you would find.

 

 

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