ALL that glitters isn’t gold.
But nobody told that to Andy Carroll and Jose Enrique.
Or Joey Barton and Kevin Nolan, for that matter.
Carroll and Enrique left Newcastle United for Champions League football – and pay rises.
Yet the pair will return to St James’s Park on Sunday with their team, Liverpool, eight Premier League points behind their old club, in sixth.
Of course, the pair have won shiny Carling Cup medals, but that competition probably wasn’t foremost in their thoughts when they left United.
Barton, meanwhile, has been booed by Queens Park Rangers fans recently, while Kevin Nolan hasn’t escaped flak at West Ham United as their promotion bid has faltered.
All four were influential figures at Newcastle before their departures, and manager Alan Pardew, understandably, didn’t want them to leave.
Yet they left, and United have prospered.
A penny for their thoughts?
Barton, an unused substitute at the Stadium of Light on Saturday, made a gesture to Sunderland supporters reminding them of United’s 5-1 win over the club last season.
That’s a past glory, and it’s open to conjecture what the future holds for the midfielder.
Certainly, things look bleak for relegation-threatened QPR.
Ahead of yesterday’s game at The Hawthorns, Pardew said he hoped love, not money, would keep Demba Ba at St James’s Park in the summer, when a number of clubs will look to take advantage of a release clause in his contract.
United, clearly, can’t compete with the likes of Liverpool for wages, though a new and improved deal will be tabled to the striker.
And Ba, should he be presented with an opportunity to leave the club in the summer, only needs to look at the experiences of the likes of Barton and Nolan to see that money isn’t everything.
Or his Senegalese countryman Habib Beye, who’s now plying his trade on loan at struggling Doncaster Rovers.
Beye was a firm favourite with fans in his two years at St James’s Park, yet he left in the wake of relegation, along with Sebastien Bassong, for the sake of his career.
It didn’t do his bank balance any harm, either.
But the move still came at a price, and the defender’s career’s been in decline ever since.
Instead of being part of a team challenging for Europe, he’s fighting a relegation battle in the Championship, the division he was so desperate to avoid when he left for Aston Villa.
History tells you that players are unlikely to lift a trophy at United, the club’s last major honour having been won in 1969.
However, the club’s undoubtedly on the up.
And what the past few years have shown is that the grass isn’t always greener away from St James’s Park.