So, after a bit of a wait and a great deal of disagreement among our fanbase, the signing of Anthony Gordon from Everton was announced on Sunday.
While we were linked with the player – both in Summer and in this January window – there were a lot of dissenting voices. It seemed that the experts among our fans knew better than Messrs Howe, Nickson and Ashworth in terms of the player’s ability, temperament, potential and even his looks and fashion sense.
For what it’s worth I’m very much in favour of this transfer. I think he’s a fantastic player and one I’d rather have in our squad than a one we have to face. So, if you take it at face value, what have we bought? Firstly, a young English Premier League player. Gordon has in fact made just under 80 appearances for Everton, 65 of which have come in the league. So, he has experience; not a vast amount, but valuable experience, all the same. For a little bit of context, Sean Longstaff has just over 120 appearances (98 in the league) and Gabriel Martinelli at Arsenal, 111 (78 in the league). Both would be classed as established Premier League players and Gordon isn’t exactly a million miles behind them.
I’ve read a lot of comments on social media referencing the fact that there is better value to be had, but does that value come with the amount of first team, Premier League experience? If we buy from abroad, then no it doesn’t. And I still don’t believe that the people who recommend these players on social media have even seen them play!
Given what we perceive to be a Newcastle tax as well as an English player tax, I think the fee isn’t bad value at all. Yes, £40m is a ridiculous amount of money, but not in the present climate. Again, we’ve payed a realistic fee, keeping to our stance of evolution not revolution.
In terms of his ability, I really don’t understand the doubt. As far as I can see, he’s a very talented footballer. He’s not afraid to take on a defender, he’s got the odd trick and he’s got a goal in him. Furthermore, in keeping with the demands of the modern game, he seems to have the kind of tactical awareness that helps him sense danger from the other team as well as a chance of nicking the ball when on the attack. He tracks back, covers his defender and can pass. Add in the magic ingredient of Eddie Howe and his team and I think we’re signing a player who will only get better and better. The lad is going to be a real crowd pleaser in my opinion, whether he’s played on the left, right or down the middle.
Gordon’s pace is an obvious asset. Put simply, he’s one of the fastest players in the history of the Premier League. I’m not sure why we’d be too opposed to that. So again, what is it that people want? It’s not as if he’s like an Adama Traore type player where there’s pace to burn but it would seem nowhere near enough end product. And again, I’d hope with the kind of coaching that he’s going to get on a daily basis, his crossing and his assists will improve greatly and Eddie will find a way to exploit the pace that Frank Lampard couldn’t.
For me personally, whenever we’ve played Everton in the past couple of years, Anthony Gordon has felt like the only real danger. When they beat us last season at Goodison – and frankly, we threw that one away – Gordon was excellent, playing centrally in behind Richarlison and looking like a constant danger. Even when we beat them at home this season he looked their likeliest threat and certainly ruffled a few Toon feathers. By the looks of some of the photos I’ve seen online however, all has been forgiven!
It was good to see Anthony wearing a pair of black trousers in the photos that emerged of him at St. James’ Park on Saturday. It didn’t bother me, but I hoped that it would appease the readers of Italian Vogue in our fanbase, who seem to have been outraged at the lad’s pair of brown patchwork strides shown in a photo from summer. It certainly seemed to be a major reason why so many disapproved in our interest in the player, so hopefully his choice of what looked like a black, slim fit trouser put minds at rest.
In all seriousness, it amazes me what becomes a concern for some people. The lad is 21 and most likely already a millionaire; he’s probably not going to dress like your average football fan. Why people are taking such offence is beyond me. As long as, when he’s wearing that black and white shirt, he’s giving everything, I don’t care if he wants to dress up like Mr. Tumble occasionally.
There’s also been criticism of the way he looks, with our own fans posting memes of people like Claire Balding and Ellen DeGeneres photoshopped into a Toon shirt. While I’m sure some of this has just been lighthearted, I feel certain that some are doing it because they’re so opposed to the signing. The weird behaviour of the modern football fan, eh?
Finally, it appears like lots of people didn’t want Gordon to sign because of his temperament. They just didn’t fancy this snarling, angry young man representing our club. I say, let’s have more of it. Play with that anger and fire every time you pull on the shirt, lad! Many have pointed to our signing of Craig Bellamy, in order to validate the Gordon deal. He was horrible at times, wasn’t he? But what a player! Bellamy was one of my favourite players to ever wear the shirt. And he wasn’t the only player we’ve had in recent history with a bit of a temper or who could be perceived to be some sort of trouble. Hatem Ben Arfa had a real attitude problem, Laurent Robert too, Bowyer started a fight with his own team mate and Asprilla was absolutely bonkers! All of them gave everything for the shirt and all of them entertained. All of them, also, had the backing of the crowd.
We revel in what we term ‘shithousing’ and then complain when we sign a player that we might well label a shithouse! It beggars belief. Anyway, none of it matters – he’s our shithouse now and I say welcome to The Toon, young man! Let’s get behind him and leave the rest to the player himself and of course, Eddie Howe! I for one, think he’s going to be a genuine success.