Farewell 'Perchinho', it's been . . . reasonable

Posted by Marc Duffy

Pepe Reina James Perch clashGettyImagesPepe Reina's 'headbutt' on James Perch landed him a three-match ban

The summer transfer window officially opened on Monday, and Newcastle United supporters website NUFC.com brought us news that James Perch is set to leave Newcastle to join Wigan Athletic for a fee believed to be around 700,000 pounds.

Perch arrived on Tyneside from Nottingham Forest three years ago as the Magpies climbed back into the Premier League. His standing amongst the supporters has changed dramatically over the course of his 55 starts and numerous substitute appearances.

Initially purchased as a right back, Perch was terrible his first season -- his first five games brought him five bookings and an unwanted club record. He quickly lost his place in the side when Alan Pardew took over the managerial reins from Chris Hughton.

Now though, Perch goes by the nickname of 'Perchinho' with some of the fans. Quite a turnaround even considering the sarcasm behind the nickname (like the old #LeonBestIsMint Twitter hash tag!) Supporters genuinely are fond of him.

Perch achieved this by working hard and never complaining. He's played at right back, left back, centre half and in the centre of midfield giving the same all-out, 100 percent effort each and every time. Ironically, the position that he arrived in, full=back, is probably his worst position. The position in which he impressed me and many others most is the holding midfield role. Perch reads the game well and is positionally aware -- he put in some solid performances right in the heart of the midfield. He's very popular with his teammates, too.

He was viciously head-butted by Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina a couple of seasons ago, leading to the Spaniard being sent from the park. Newcastle old boy Jose Enrique then had to pick up the gloves and go in goal as Newcastle cruised to victory. He also scored a goal (his only one for the club) against soon-to-be champions Manchester United in their own backyard last December.

So why are Newcastle letting him go, further reducing an already too-small squad? For all of the above, Perch is not good enough for a team looking to consistently finish in the top half of the Premier League. The club can find better players. He looks set to drop down a division which will suit him more, and he will be an excellent addition for Wigan.

Many Newcastle fans are bewildered as to why the club would let him go when backup is needed -- I'm sure Perch wants to play football, not sit around hoping for 10 minutes here and 20 minutes there. Lets face it, Michael Owen received enough abuse for willingly playing the part of benchwarmer. Newcastle might well have other younger, more promising players on their radar too.

When Newcastle capitulated to Sunderland and then Liverpool last season, there was speculation as to whether they were lacking an 'English core'. So far this summer two English players have left (Danny Simpson to QPR being the other). Shola Ameobi might soon follow and personally I don't think the loss of any of them will be too hard felt as long as replacements arrive.

Good luck Perchinho!

Twitter: @MarcSDuffy

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