Without trying to use the usual cliche of “a signing that defines an era,” the signing of Xisco by Newcastle United surely did mark the beginning of hilarious goings on at the aptly named sportsdirect@StJamesPark stadium. The player was signed by Executive Director – at the time – Dennis Wise, employed by fairly new owner Mike Ashley as a lap dog/go-between for issues concerning transfers, scout and other footballing tit bits. A Jack of all trades if you will.
Funnily enough, this didn’t bode too well with manager at the time, (King, to some) Kevin Keegan. Unhappy with the restraints being set by the backstage hierarchy, it was just a matter of time before Keegan had another infamous strop and did what King Kev does best… Walk away.
This time it wasn’t really his fault. Players were sold and bought without consent and Keegan publicly warned Ashley time and time again that he would not be rendered helpless in the decision making for the additions to and subtractions from his squad.
Well, the signing of Xisco came amidst the turbulent s*** storm that poured down on Tyneside during the 2008/09 Premier League season. It was one of many contributing factors which caused the meltdown of communication between Keegan and the ‘cockney mafia’ boardroom. The Spaniard was one of two signings that Dennis Wise orchestrated whilst King Kev was still in charge, for the sum of £5.7million – which could potentially rise to £7million. Well, was he worth it?
Short answer no. Long answer… No. The striker had plenty of competition for places up front: Michael Owen, Mark Viduka, Obafemi Martins, Shola Ameobi, Peter Lovenkrands and Andy Carroll were all ahead of him in the pecking order. It’s fair to say that Xisco did not see a lot of football that season. In a way, he can’t be at fault for Newcastle’s inevitable relegation to the Championship for the 2009/10 season because his impact on the first team was so insignificant.
Championship football has always been thought of as a great platform to get one’s career back on track, especially for a striker that doesn’t get many games, thus scores very few goals. So what did Xisco do? He thought “Stuff it, I’m off to Racing Santander for the season!” Not contempt with his £50,000 a week wage packet playing in the Toon reserves, Xisco went on loan to the Spanish outfit making 23 appearances and scoring 3 goals.
Since returning from his Spanish vacation, Xisco made an appearance this season in Newcastle United’s 6-0 win over Aston Villa, setting up Andy Carroll’s third goal.
Yet even as I write this article, a loan deal looks set to materialise for the forward. His sending off during the Newcastle-Sunderland reserves match could be the final straw which sees Hughton offer Xisco’s services to another club. The 24-year-old was clearly in his manager’s plans for the current campaign after impressing during pre-season friendlies:
“With regards to a loan, he’s one that we’re continuing to assess. It is a matter of progress with him and sometimes first-team football is what helps you there, so it’s a possibility.
“But I have emphasised to all of them who aren’t in the team that they have to keep pushing hard for selection. If they do that then the door isn’t shut to anyone.”
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