Is there a manager anywhere that can live up to the standards required of the top job at the Toon?
Chris Hughton had done nothing short of an amazing job, gaining promotion from the Championship at the first attempt – and breaking a few records along the way – and settling the club into a mid-table position in the Premier League with almost half the season gone.
And in doing that Hughton had to contend with the uncertainty around the sale of the club, a relatively small budget for players and few backroom staff to help him.
Yet it seems he’s not good enough and the club wants someone with ‘more experience’ to manage them.
Ashley is playing a dangerous game, getting rid of someone who appeared to be doing the job at our club for someone who is an unknown at Newcastle United, regardless of the experience he may have elsewhere. Remember, we’ve had ‘experienced managers’ who’ve flopped before. It seems to me a bit like refusing the advances of Jessica Alba on the off-chance that Ann Widdecombe may just turn out to be better due to her greater experience.
Anyway, it has been done and it won’t be undone, so we have to start looking at who might be the next man stick his head in the vice at Newcastle.
There has been plenty mention of ‘the usual suspects’. Martin O’Neill is always one of the first to be mentioned when the Toon job is vacant, but I can’t really see that happening. He likes full control of things at his clubs, which is unlikely to happen at Newcastle given Ashley’s quasi-managerial interference, and didn’t he leave Villa because Lerner wouldn’t give him the financial backing he wanted? Chances are he’d have even less money to play with at Newcastle.
Alan Curbishley gets the usual mention too. He did a decent job at Charlton and then moved to West Ham to save them from relegation and got them a top 10 finish the next season. I like Curbishley, but he won a case for constructive dismissal against West Ham and I think Ashley would rather hit himself in the face with a brick than chance anything like that again after the Keegan debacle.
Paul Lambert has been mentioned and so, inevitably, has Shearer, but I think these are non-starters. If Ashley wants someone with ‘experience’, that indicates to me that he means someone with considerable time as a manager in the top-flight, either in the Premier League or abroad.
Alan Pardew has apparently emerged as a strong favourite but I can’t really see what he has achieved beyond getting West Ham promoted and losing an FA Cup Final. I don’t know how Ashley is defining ‘experience’ but I somehow doubt that Pardew fits the bill.
Martin Jol, who resigned from Ajax yesterday, has emerged as the latest big contender. Jol had a reasonably good start at Spurs, qualifying them for the UEFA Cup for two seasons in a row, but he then left under a bit of a cloud of discontent to be replaced by Juande Ramos. He then moved to Hamburg where he guided them to the semifinals of both the UEFA Cup and the German Cup.
Jol’s latest stint at Ajax has been reasonably successful, winning the Dutch Cup last season and finishing second in the league, one point adrift of the winners, with a goal difference of +86.
Jol would be my guess as it just seems very coincidental that he resigned from Ajax on the day Hughton is sacked from Newcastle, and I’m not a huge believer in coincidence. Who knows? Maybe Ashley has someone else entirely in mind – it wouldn’t surprise me if he employed Sooty to be honest.
So, anyone got any outside bets on the next manager?