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Nobby Solano
 Pre and post-sale comments from

We wrote on January 9th 2004:

As has been speculated upon for most of this week, there does appear to be interest from Aston Villa in signing our Peruvian international Nolberto Solano.

Certainly Sir Bobby Robson did nothing to dissuade the story, with quotes attributed to him virtually inviting O'Leary's mob to make us an offer:

"If an offer came in for Solano, then we would listen to it. There is something in the air with Villa but David O'Leary has not been on the phone to me and they've put no offer on the table.

If there is genuine interest in one of my players, a club should come through the front door, not the back door."

Just a week earlier Bobby had said: 

"We have got some players who are buyable but in my mind Nobby isn't one of those players who is for sale."

For our own part we're saddened at the treatment of Nobby by the club in recent times and even if he has now made a return to the senior side after his time in exile, his departure seems increasingly inevitable.

Compared to the likes of Viana and LuaLua, Solano seems not to have had even-handed treatment from the management team since his difference of opinion with Bobby over international playing commitments. 

Yes, Nobby supposedly agreed to lessen his commitment to Peru for friendly games in return for an improved contract, but was it fair for Bobby to ask him to do this in the first place? The pressure on Solano to play in every Peru game is huge, from what we understand, there is no club v country debate in Peru, country always comes first.

Surely that is something someone as patriotic as Bobby can understand, after all it was only the resolve of Freddy Shepherd which stopped our manager putting country before club when the FA asked him to become involved in the England setup again.

And it's become almost a standing joke that when United make a substitution that Nobby starts moving towards the touchline even before his number is up - in stark contrast to one or two other colleagues who seem immune from being replaced.

As ever we try not to nail our colours to the mast of any one particular player - having watched hundreds come and go over the years, the only attitude we can is take is that we're prepared to see anyone leave, if they are replaced by a player of at least equal stature.

That's why we still bleat and moan about the sale of Steve Watson to bring in continental tat or the disposal of Sir Les and futile attempts at bringing in utterly inappropriate and costly replacements.

And going back a wee bit further, while some were upset that David Kelly never got a go in the Premiership after helping us to promotion, it's now generally accepted that we improved as a team with his replacements on board. 

To us, there are two ways of looking at the Nobby situation:

1. Either it's been decided that Solano's face no longer fits and it's time for him to leave the club and compensate for his absence by usage of other existing players e.g. Ambrose.

2. Or we have such a limited transfer fund that the club will be forced to dispose of a playing asset in order to bring in funds (both from the transfer fee and also the lightening of the wage bill).

If it's 1. then Bobby has more faith in his younger talents than we have and if it's 2, releasing funds to bring in a striker is all well and good, but goalscoring relies on the quality of the passes given to the striker - just ask Shearer about Nobby's ball to him on Wednesday night.

Either way, losing Nobby would deprive us of a player who has successfully settled into a completely alien culture and style of football and prospered.

Compared to so many of our overseas flops, he's a shining example of the benefits of looking outside the UK for playing talent and arguably our most successful import since George Robledo.

Having just turned 29 a few weeks ago, he's hardly over the hill and seems happy to stay at the club given a fair crack of the whip. And let's face it, we're hardly over-endowed with creative players. 

While overpaid, over-rated underachievers such as Cort, Viana and LuaLua continue to clutter up the club, to see Solano forced to ply his trade elsewhere in the Premiership would be an absolute disgrace.

The Peruvian gets a good reception from the crowd because they remember his free kick against Manchester United, his winner at Leeds and the other 36 goals he's scored for us plus the countless passes and assists.

Many also look upon him favourably for his off-field conduct during his time on Tyneside* and his approachability - something many of his contemporaries are singularly lacking in.

* A few of you have quite rightly pointed out his drink-driving conviction.

And we wrote on January 30th 2004:

It's now been confirmed that Peruvian international midfielder Nolberto Solano has left the club, after Aston Villa's bid - now thought to be around the 1.5m mark - was accepted by United.

The player met with officials from Villa in the Midlands on Thursday to agree personal terms and put pen to a two and a half year deal with the Villans on Thursday evening.

Questions have to be asked about the state of the club's finances if we are willing to lose a player of Solano's calibre for a paltry 1.5m. Bobby has stated (see below) that this is a "good deal for both clubs" but seems to have few allies with that opinion.

So we now have 3.5m banked from the January transfer window, why that's almost enough to go and buy another Bassedas or Maric (or Stephen Carr). No doubt, Bobby's old friend Mick Wadsworth has spotted a few bargains on his travels with DR Congo which he can tip us the wink on.

We wonder whether Bobby realises the depth of feeling this transfer has stirred up. Did he not hear the "you don't know what you're doing" chants at Anfield when he subbed Solano for the umpteenth and final time?

Kevin Keegan took stick for his sale of Andy Cole, Kenny Dalglish for letting Ferdinand go but for some of us this is worse. Robson's bizarre defence of Carl Cort, followed by the knockdown sale of Solano have convinced some that plots are being seriously lost at St. James'.

Those at St. Andrew's on Saturday are likely to leave the management in no doubt about their views on the subject.

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Page last updated 24 June, 2009