With the start of the new season fast approaching, Newcastle fans have breathed a sigh of relief as Joe Kinnear has finally succeeded in bolstering the team’s threadbare attacking options by bringing in French international Loïc Rémy from QPR – more than six months after he turned his back on the Magpies.
Newcastle had seemingly agreed a deal to bring Rémy to Tyneside in January, only for the Frenchman to have a sudden change of heart and opt to join QPR instead – despite an initial refusal to even entertain the prospect of a move to Loftus Road. It seems that Rémy’s misgivings about QPR’s plight were quickly forgotten when he heard that Tony Fernandes was prepared to almost double the money that was on offer at St James’ Park and so, inevitably, Rémy did a U-turn and stepped on board Harry Redknapp’s sinking ship.
Just as inevitably, QPR surrendered their Premier League status following a season of abject, gutless performances and we all knew it wouldn’t be long before Rémy was seeking pastures new. Tottenham and West Ham were linked with the Frenchman in the early summer months but now, somewhat surprisingly, he has ended up on Tyneside as Newcastle have seemingly forgiven him for deserting them in their hour of need.
Whilst Rémy is undeniably a fine player, it’s curious that his gold-digging antics in the January transfer window are being glossed over and that he is being welcomed with open arms. The arrival of a player of Rémy’s calibre should be a cause for celebration, both for his colleagues and for Newcastle’s fans, but questions must be asked about his temperament and his motivations in the wake of his eleventh hour defection to QPR.
Tellingly, Newcastle have opted not to have a press conference to welcome Rémy to the club, choosing instead to introduce him to the St James’ Park faithful ahead of this weekend’s friendly against Portugal’s SC Braga. It also seems that Alan Pardew is aware of a possible fan backlash and has spoken to the local media this week in an attempt to pacify the pessimists who see Rémy as an opportunistic money-grabber whose sole motivation is his pay-packet.
While Pardew believes that Rémy’s turncoat antics were somewhat justified
“I don’t think it was about turning us down… sometimes it is a business decision… I’m not going to say what the reasons were when he didn’t arrive in the first place”
It remains to be seen whether the Toon Army will warm to him. His first interview with Newcastle’s official website was littered with the usual bland platitudes praising the club’s magnificent stadium, the magical atmosphere and his wonderful colleagues but a more revealing nugget came when he said
“I am very motivated this year to get into the World Cup squad for my country. I know in order to do that I need to have a big season and a successful campaign with Newcastle United”.
Whilst such words epitomise the stereotypical clichés reeled off by every player who arrives at a new club, it’s hard to ignore the feeling that Rémy is merely using Newcastle United to further his own selfish desires. That quote could just as easily have come from Newcastle anti-hero Michael Owen whose every return from injury brought a new soundbite about how keen he was to get back playing for his beloved country once again.
Time will tell what Rémy has gained from his brief stay at Loftus Road (apart, that is, from several hundred thousand pounds) and hopefully he really does have Newcastle’s best interests at heart. His behaviour in January was greedy and disrespectful but Newcastle’s fans will forgive his past misdemeanors if he gives his all for the cause. What is certain is that he has the talent to become a cult hero on Tyneside. It’s up to Rémy now to earn the fans’ adulation.