The other day, whilst I was sat idly waiting for the Minogue sisters to turn up with the whipped cream and giraffe for my daily ‘session’, I got to thinking about Pardew’s claim that our transfer policy is no different to Manchester United’s.
The conclusion I came to is that I think it depends upon how you define ‘different’. Are we talking ‘different’ in the way an otter is different to a sewing machine or is perhaps the devil in the detail?
At it’s most basic level, I think Pardew’s right. Most transfers probably happen as a result of some sort of consensus between the manager, the scouts and the owner or board, but I think where the difference lies is with the amount of input each particular party has on things.
Sir Alex Ferguson is a long-standing and hugely successful manager and I would thusly suggest that he (rightly) has far more input into the transfer scenarios at Manchester United than Alan Pardew does at Newcastle. And then we have to wonder whether Ashley has a more controlling, hands-on approach to these things at Newcastle than the Glazer family do at Manchester United. I happen to think he does.
I would guess that Sir Alex Ferguson goes to the board and outlines what he wants to do in a transfer window, whereupon he’s probably given a budget. Following that he probably gets his scouts working for him and they might come back with suggestions which, assuming its all within budget, will probably be subject to Sir Alex’s final approval. If it goes beyond budget, I would guess it’s up to Sir Alex to justify it: sometimes he may win his case and sometimes not.
I think the difference at Newcastle, though, is that Mike Ashley is involved in every single transfer down to the final detail. I do not believe Pardew has any set ‘budget’ and I do not believe he is trusted with the final say. In some cases – like for example the sale of Andy Carroll – I’d like to bet Pardew doesn’t even know anything about a deal until after it has happened. Quite where Derek Llambias fits in is anybody’s guess – light entertainment perhaps.
The evidence suggests that the Manchester United way is the most successful but long-serving managers of Sir Alex Ferguson’s abilities are in short supply, so it is perhaps becoming quite rare these days. Even at places like Chelsea I’d have my doubts as to how much say the manager has in transfers but – to point out another ‘difference’ – in places where the manager doesn’t have that much say, it’s probably left to a Director of Football or a Chairman rather than the owner or board. In other words it’s left to someone who knows something about football.
So I’m going to have to disagree with Alan Pardew and suggest that there are differences and that Alan Pardew’s ‘control’ over the transfer procedure is far less than Sir Alex Feguson’s.
Back when I was young lad buying cars and anything that did 0-60 in under 10 seconds was considered properly fast, I was brought up on a diet of Mk I and Mk II Capris. Ford was really all there was of affordable interest to a young lad – except perhaps for the hulking Rover SD1 3.5 that the rozzers used to drive – until the hot hatch made it’s debut with Peugeot and Renault. I can always remember when I got my 3 litre Mk I Capri and used to fly past other cars, I’d see the driver squinting to look for the little ‘3000’ badge on the front wing to make sure his hot-rod wasn’t being clobbered by a 1600. That’s because the only really noticeable surface difference between that and the 2000 or 1600 Capri was that little badge. But if you looked under the bonnet it was a different matter.
Such it is with Newcastle and the supposed ‘no difference’ in the way our transfer policy is to Manchester United’s in my opinion. It’s broadly the same at any club until you look under the bonnet and I think you’d find that, when it comes to the influence managers have on who comes in and who gets the boot, at Manchester United we’d find that Sir Alex Ferguson is more of a V6 3000, whereas Alan Pardew is a straight 4 1600 with a dodgy head gasket.
Note that I’m not suggesting we should give Alan Pardew more control over transfers – I’m merely suggesting that I think his statement about our transfer policies being the same as Manchester United’s isn’t quite true. I just hope that Mike Ashley is deferring assessments of football players and their worth to those in the club who have a grounding in football rather than one in selling shirts.