Opinion: The best and worst of Graham Carr

Head Scout Graham Carr is leaving Newcastle United so we take a look at the highs and lows of his transfer regime.

Opinion: The best and worst of Graham Carr
Image via Getty

After spending seven years as Head Scout at Newcastle Unitedit has been announced that Graham Carr will be moving on to pastures new.

During his tenure, Carr was heavily criticised for some of his transfer policies. Mostly, for continuously bringing in cheap players under the age of 25 from Ligue 1. Despite the denunciation throughout his time at Newcastle, many fans acknowledged Carr as a mere puppet in owner Mike Ashley's wider plan to run the club 'as a business'  saw him as a puppet in Mike Ashley's bid to save money.

In total Carr brought in just under 50 different players. If we are adhering to the law of averages, there were always bound to be some diamonds among his recruits, but these did not come without some giant failures...

Success:  Hatem Ben Arfa

Starting on a positive note and the successes, it is hard to ignore the masterstroke that was the signing of Hatem Ben ArfaThe promising talent initially joined the club on a loan from Marseille which soon became one of Carr's favourite clubs to shop at.

After making the deal permanent the following season, Ben Arfa really began to shine. Defenders struggled to read the winger as his skill set was extensive and on his day, he could charge down the pitch, swerving any player that came in his way. In fact he did this against Bolton. After receiving the ball in Newcastle's half, he made his down the pitch, dancing past the four players that dared to challenge him, Ben Arfa cooly slotted into the net. 

Unforgettable moments like that combined with the finer details that came week in, week out turned Ben Arfa into Newcastle's key creative player. It could be argued that the pairing Demba Ba and Pappis Cisse, supported by the talent of the Frenchman was the key to newcastle's top five finish in 2011.

Unfortunately, things did not end well for Newcastle and Ben Arfa and manager Alan Pardew struggled with the player both on and off the pitch. After an unpleasant season on loan to Hull CityBen Arfa was released from the club leaving on less than amicable terms.

Many still speculate that letting the star go was one of the greatest tragedies in Newcastle's history and many still wonder what could have been.

Success: Rob Elliot

Bought in 2011 for Charlton Athletic for a measly fee of £122k, goalkeeper Rob Elliot was one player to yield dividends in Carr’s many bargain basement deals.

The Republic of Ireland international is a well-rounded keeper and working under Tim Krul continued to develop him until his moment. Elliot’s distribution is his unique selling point but when Krul became injured during the 2015/16 season, that is when the keeper really had his chance to shine.

During the season that Newcastle were relegated, Elliot was a beacon of hope despite starting the season as the third-choice keeper. Naturally, his shot stopping skills were called into action as Newcastle struggled through the season and they did impress.  The keeper kept Newcastle’s first successive two clean sheets in two years, and helped the team to their first away win in 10 months.

Unfortunately, Elliot has fallen victim to injury and did through the latter half of the 2016 season – where Karl Darlow was fit and ready to get to action (another strong signing from Carr). However, without Elliot 2015/2016 would have been a more painful memory that it had to be.

The keeper is now back with the team and saw some minutes in the Championship under Rafa. There could be more to come from Rob Elliot in a Newcastle shirt.

Failure: Seydou Doumbia

Among the 40-something signings, there have been many that have not worked out. Sometimes due to lacklustre performances but in the case of Seydou Doumbia is a more abnormal case in the Carr saga.

Doumbia's curious signing came in the season where the club spent £70 million in a bid to keep Newcastle in the top flight - ultimately failing. In January, Carr enlisted the experience of Doumbia as he struggled to fit in with Roma

It was expected that his vast experience and previous fine goal scoring form would be brought to the Mags. This expectation was quickly realised to be but a fantasy, the striker only made three appearances. In this time he failed to do anything and largely looked to be out of place. 

Rafa Benitez barely deemed the forward worthy a place on the bench. He quickly moved on after a bizarre fling with the club.

Failure: Sol Campbell 

In 2010, when Newcastle United made the return to the Premier League, it made sense for Carr to look at experience. He chose to take in Sol Campbell as he was a free agent. 

It would have made sense given his vast experience within the Premier League and as an international player but Campbell was second to Fabricio Coloccini. Only gaining his appearances when the Argentinian was out or as a substitute. Inevitably, manager Pardew turned down the opportunity to resign Campbell at the end of the season.

Despite being a free agent, taking into account the stature of Sol Campbell, his wage bill would have been high and there was little to no return since the defender was clearly past his best.

Failure: Emmanuel Riviere

During Carr's 'French revolution', he scouted Emmanuel Riviere from Monaco. The player was never a prolific striker and an unusual choice from the Head Scout.

Riviere joined the club in 2014 on a four year contract, making his debut early on in the season but did not score until May in the same season against an already relegated QPR side.

Naturally, after only scoring one goal in 23 appearances, the next season became a struggle for Riviere as he only accumulated three games worth of playing time and failed to make an impact.

There was never a time that Frenchman looked fully comfortable as a striker in the black and white shirt. 

The striker's contract still runs on until the end of the upcoming season but like most flops, he has been sent to another club to live out the remainder on loan. 

Newcastle United FC