In the week where MPs have faced a severe embarrassment and grilling for taking away money that wasn`t entitled to them, perhaps our players should take a look at the treatment metered out to the nation`s politicians and thank themselves lucky. After all, the majority of our players have been paid millions for doing nothing but embarrassing the club for the best part of their time at the club.
There`s a hell of a lot of candidates to take the Hazel Blears, Elliot Morley and Shahid Malik roles but the following deserve a special mention:
1) Michael Owen - In years ahead Owen will surely rank in the top three for biggest wastes of money in the Premier League (to be fair he`ll probably be battling Steve Marlet and Shevchenko for these slots).
£17m for his transfer fee and an astronomical estimated £22m in wages over his four years here lands us with a £39m bill for the grand total of 77 games, with 30 goals thrown in. We`ll forget the fact Shearer managed that number of goals in one season for us when we finished 11th.
To some Owen will be remembered as a goalscoring legend, with the media re-running clips of 'that` Argentina goal and probably his hat trick against us. However I`d take Gavin Peacock or David Kelly over him any day. They had passion and pride for the shirt and will always be remembered as heroes for Black and Whites.
For the vast majority Owen will be seen as no better than Hamann or Goma, another characterless mercenary who took his corn, offered little and left under a cloud. The problem is we expected so much more from him. He promised the world and delivered pizza.
2) Joey Barton - Another import from the North West, Barton has written his name in folklore here for spending more time behind bars and in court rooms than on the pitch. The Dabo ban, the time spent in the clink for the McDonalds incident and now the suspension for the Alonso / Shearer.
Barton came with the tag of being the poor man`s Steven Gerrard. Instead we got the poor man`s Ronnie Biggs. All of this came for the princely sum of £5.3m and £64k a week with 32 appearances and two goals (both from the spot). At least with Barton there is the prospect of clawing back a couple of million.
3) Mark Viduka - Some people might have rose-tinted views of the Aussie, having performed so well against Boro last Monday night. However lets not forget the fact Viduka has performed a possum-esque hibernation over the last two years, turning up until October then disappearing until April.
The Aussie has cost us £60k a week over the last two years for the princely sum of 37 games and 7 goals. Again - bloody shameful. Walks away for nowt this summer.
4) Alan Smith - One day there will be a t-shirt printed saying 'I saw Alan Smith score`. However rather than against the likes of Portsmouth and Blackburn it`ll be Plymouth or Blackpool that 'Smudger` will aiming to be netting against.
Smith cost £5m and £60k a week for his 39 substandard games. Ironically he netted on his Newcastle debut in a friendly against Sampdoria but hasn`t scored since. At least not on the pitch. Likely to get a million or so back if we`re lucky.
5) Fabriccio Coloccini - Gash. £10m for the fee, probably about £50k for wages. Dropped and bombed out of the side, only to probably come back in against Villa this weekend for our most important game ever. Coloccini had the nerve to criticise the Newcastle experience as being 'not what was in the brochure`. Pot, kettle and black springs to mind.
6) Xisco - 3 games, 1 goal for £5.2m and probably £25k a week in wages. Well done Dennis Wise.
7) Jose Enrique - £6.3m and £35k a week in wages. Enrique has been the most frustrating player of all. Our only option at left back, he seems to break easier than china, missing whole chunks of the season injured. Has managed 48 games in two seasons. Might get the odd million back from a Spanish club, where he`ll no doubt be an ever present for the rest of his career.
8) Damien Duff - Like Enrique, another who has undersold himself here. At £60k a week and £5m a lot more has been expected of Duff who instead has managed 67 games with 4 goals in his time on Tyneside (3 years nearly). Probably worse than Xisco and Enrique in the sense that he was such a player in years gone by.
9) Shola Ameobi - With wages rocking up, flash cars in the drive and an attitude the size of a house, Ameobi really has been a crapper version of Carl Cort. With less movement than a 90 year old arthritis sufferer, the best thing Shola could have done is go to Stoke last summer. At least that way they wouldn`t have had the money to sign Beattie.
10) Geremi - Jose Mourinho famously told Bobby Robson that Geremi`s legs had gone. That was four years ago and the waster is still on our books at £60k a week. Symptomatic of how we`ve frittered away the TV millions with a wages to turnover rate of nearly 0.75:1.