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Saturday 22 July 2017

Comment - James McCarthy should give Newcastle a miss even if it means more Ronald Koeman

Everton and Ireland midfielder James McCarthy. Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Everton and Ireland midfielder James McCarthy. Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Paul Hyland

Paul Hyland

IF there is one club on planet earth that James McCarthy should approach with an extra- long bargepole, it’s Newcastle United, football’s great pretenders.

Newcastle promise their mug punters hope when circumstances conspire to put a decent manager like Rafa Benitez in charge and he does his job properly.

But the game is loaded and the fans can never win.

Even now when Newcastle’s season ticket holders should be walking on air as winners and relieved that this sojourn in the Championship only lasted for nine months, they are terrified.

Read the Toon forums and everyone is afraid that Benitez will walk away, tempted by a better offer or brow-beaten by Mike Ashley.

Promises

Should Benitez somehow wrestle enough cash and solid promises about who has the final say on transfers out of Ashley and then chooses to stay, it would be a brave punter who would bet any serious money on him still being manager by Christmas.

That’s the Toon and McCarthy needs to take a cold-hearted view if Benitez comes after him in the next few weeks or months and makes him an offer which would take him away from Ronald Koeman and Everton.

What McCarthy badly needs is some stability, both psychological and physiological and St James Park is the last place anyone would associate with permanence of any description. Because of his recent injury record, no top club will take a chance on him, even if there was one of the big clubs interested.

Both Arsenal and Liverpool have been linked with him in the past but apart from a purple patch during the 2013/14 season for Roberto Martinez at Goodison, his show reel is light on highlights in the intervening period.

Unfortunately, the promise which caused speculation like that has never really materialised and if McCarthy wants to leave Everton, he will struggle to find something suitable.

There is also the ongoing issue of Koeman’s future and speculation about the Barcelona job, among others. McCarthy might have a new boss before the summer is out if he stays.

Everton is a club on the up. Chairman Bill Kenwright, who has always seemed like a decent man and underlined that with his contract offer to Seamus Coleman immediately after that awful moment at the Aviva in March, has been actively looking for the right investors for Everton.

He found Iranian billionaire Farhad Moshiri but we have yet to see any major sign of an improved financial position other than Kenwright’s announcement that the favoured site for a new stadium development was the Bramley Moore Dock.

There was been further speculation about new, wealthy investors so it is reasonable to assume that Everton is not a bad place to be.

The idea that McCarthy would swap that for a tight rope existence at Newcastle is illogical, Koeman or no Koeman. The alternatives? A mid-table existence at Stoke or West Brom?

He might be better off soldiering on under Koeman.

The Dutchman is a pragmatist and if McCarthy could find some time to rest his body and somehow progress through pre-season without another hamstring strain, Koeman would play him if he thought he was good enough.

In fact, McCarthy should be selfish this summer and give Ireland’s fixture schedule a miss, even if that sounds like sacrilege.

It’s not as if he has been ever-present for Martin O’Neill in this World Cup qualifying campaign.

Competition

O’Neill has new options in midfield. Harry Arter can do McCarthy’s job and the emergence of Conor Hourihane offers more competition.

If he’s fit, McCarthy starts for Ireland and if ducking out of Austria and the games before it allowed him some space for his body to heal and meant he could go the starting line for the new Premier League season in August fresh, it would be worth it.

Some short term pain for long term gain and it might even make Koeman put a sock in his bellyaching about McCarthy’s international commitments.

Perhaps those bridges are burned and if that is so and Koeman remains as Everton boss, McCarthy is in a tight spot.

But Newcastle is not the answer no matter how wonderful their fans can be. He’ll get hero worship but that’s about as good as it gets.

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