Newcastle and Remy: A marriage of convenience that will work

Chief sportswriter Mark Douglas argues that Loic Remy’s arrival is a significant sign that Newcastle can function in the transfer market - as well as another marriage of convenience for the club

Loic Remy
Loic Remy

It is a marriage of convenience, but if it works out like the last one did then Loic Remy and Newcastle United will make perfect bedfellows.

Remy’s arrival on Tyneside should be a cause for genuine celebration and within the four walls of the club’s Benton training base – where the France international was subjected to a lengthy medical after pitching up in a blacked out Mercedes Viano earlier in the morning – they were raising a toast to the fruition of a lengthy courtship.

Newcastle first began eyeing Remy when he was at Nice back in 2010, compiling the usual extensive and lengthy dossier that has become their modus operandi when they work in France. As his reputation soared, so too did his price tag – to an eye-watering extent that left Newcastle powerless to act.

Pardew is keen on describing United as being in the “fabric” of French football, but their influence was not nearly as ingrained when he made a £12million move to Marseille and interest was mothballed. This, as we have seen with many of Newcastle’s recent transfer dealings, is a common trick of United’s: biding their time. The difference between Remy and the others is that his very public snub in January left Newcastle so furious that Derek Llambias looked unlikely to resurrect the deal.

There was a feeling that his advisers, led by a Monaco-based French agent and not Willie McKay, had used United and any bonds of trust were broken.

What we have learned in the last few months is that cold, hard logic rules everything in the world of Premier League football. While Remy and Pardew might face questions about what prompted them to resurrect a deal that collapsed in farce back in the New Year, the answer is simple: he can play.

Inside the Newcastle hierarchy, that’s all they are really concerned about. They looked in the whites of his eyes yesterday and no doubt saw similar attributes to Demba Ba, whose time at St James’ Park was underscored by his ruthless ambition.

He moved to Newcastle because it was a bigger club than West Ham, and departed to Chelsea because they could offer him more money and the Champions League platform that he believed he deserved. In the meantime he scored the goals that took United – briefly – to the next level.

He was nothing less than professional in the meantime and, however much he might have wanted to play through the middle during Papiss Cisse’s purple patch, he was willing to shelve his personal ambitions for a period of time. While we all yearn for an Alan Shearer figure who plays with the mindset of a passionate supporter, the next best thing is someone who is supremely professional and talented.

Just as Ba didn’t let Newcastle down, so the belief at St James’ Park is that Remy will prove United’s initial feeling about him to be correct. They wanted reassurances that he didn’t want to stay in London and got them over the weekend, prompting the move that was made yesterday.

They are sufficiently satisfied to have requested an option to buy in June, which could secure a permanent move for as little as �7million. If he continues the form that he exhibited in those first few weeks at QPR, that would be a stunning bit of business for a striker who provides the sort of pace and finishing ability that the team has been crying out for.

All of this probably sounds incredibly cold given that part of Newcastle’s sales pitch to their legion of French players has been about the passion and frenzy of St James’ Park. But it is borne of a knowledge of the market they are working in.

Not that Newcastle’s French players aren’t beginning to integrate. English is more often spoken in the dressing room than it was, and just last week Newcastle had Moussa Sissoko’s teenage cousin – a promising right-back – at the club. But these are footballing ties rather than emotional ones, and Remy’s capture is consistent with that philosophy.

It may also be portrayed as a first significant breakthrough for Kinnear, who was certainly more professional in the interview he gave to Sky on Sunday.

In truth this was a deal that was worked on before his arrival, although it is proof that Newcastle can still function in the transfer market – and that is a blessed relief for every black and white follower.

For much of the summer the club appeared dysfunctional as Kinnear used the airwaves to settle old scores and complain about the way his appointment had been handled. When Llambias quit and rumours swirled that Graham Carr might be next, there was a destabilising uncertainty about the club.

What has emerged from that fog of uncertainty is that not much has really changed. Newcastle still pride themselves on being “selective”, they still search for value and they will still work in markets that they know.

Kinnear is a curve ball, but Mike Ashley continues to lean on the people he trusts.

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer