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When a big money move went wrong: Newcastle United’s Marcelino Elena

As any Newcastle United fan will tell you, The Toon army have made an art of wasting large amounts of cash on overpriced foreign players who arrive with big reputations only to leave with their tails between their legs, reputations destroyed and in some cases careers in tatters. The names Hugo Viana and Albert Luque are just two complete wastes of money that spring to mind. Yet surely Marcelino has to be one of the worst acquisitions Newcastle United ever made.

Signed from Mallorca in 1999 for £6.7 million, Marcelino turned up at St James Park with glowing reports from Spain. He had recently broken into the Spanish international set up the prior season and was part of an exciting Mallorca team (ironically they had Albert Luque in their squad too) which had just reached the final of the old Cup Winners Cup yet losing to Lazio. His signing offered the Geordie faithful at least some attempt to shore up a weak backline with Didier Domi and Alessandro Pistone not exactly filling the fans with confidence. In all honesty, he was shocking. On Marcelino’s debut he picked up a groin strain and was substituted at half time. On his return to the first team Marcelino showed his prowess by playing in the next three games to which Newcastle conceded eight goals. Upon his purchase Ruud Gullit had hailed him as ‘one of Europe’s best.’ I think something must have got lost in translation or the old football cliché for deniability, Ruud was ‘misquoted.’

Marcelino finished his exhausting long first season in England with eleven appearances and seemed happy enough to take a full time role as a bench warmer and the odd kick about with the reserves on a Friday night. His claims of injury problems that blighted his Newcastle career are wildly exaggerated. The common cold can be a killer if not treat correctly. His second season was worst than his first with him amassing a respectable six appearances. That’s more than I can count on one hand. The biggest gripe Newcastle fans have is not just his sloppy performances but his willingness to be paid high wages to do literally nothing. No effort to attempt to get back into first team plans, Marcelino just seem to not care. He lost his place in the Spanish national team and cut a lonely figure at St James Park. Somehow Marcelino was still at Newcastle by 2002 and was given a large pay off to leave.

Upon his booting the Spaniard claimed ‘the fans called me a thieving Spaniard and a gypsy who was robbing the clubs cash.’ Well, there is something kicking around in that head. He had me fooled for over three seasons. Subsequently his career never recovered and Marcelino spent nearly 2 seasons in the Spanish second division before he decided to call it a day. He made only 17 appearances in three seasons for the black and white army. He can now be seen bumming around Spain looking at talent for Everton.

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