Could it be that Steve McLaren’s future depends on what happens on Saturday? After we play Chelsea we have 17 days without a game and that might be the ideal time to change managers.
Of all the things Ashley’s bad at when it comes to running a football club – and there are many – one of his worst is his management of managers. His reluctance to change managers at the drop of a hat is not a bad thing in itself, but only if you have the right manager in the first place and, with the possible exception of Chris Hughton, I’d argue he hasn’t picked the right manager for Newcastle United since he bought the club.
Well, in the seven seasons we’ve been in the Premier League since Ashley bought the club, our average finishing position has been 12.57 (I’ve not counted the season in the Championship) and in the seven seasons prior to Ashley buying the club our average finishing position was 8.14. That might not sound like a huge difference but before Ashley we were, on average, a mid-table team who sometimes flirted with Europe whereas now we are, on average, a mid-table team who sometimes flirts with relegation. And of course in 2008-2009 we did more than merely flirt with relegation – we kissed it, fondled it and knocked it up behind the bike sheds.
The misery inflicted on us can’t be entirely blamed on managers of course. The players we’ve bought, the players we’ve sold and the ethos and sentiment of the club all had a hand in things. But football managers play a key role in the grand scheme of things.
I couldn’t help feeling there was something odd about the story of Patrick Vieira coming to Newcastle, as there is about most unsubstantiated football stories.
Some fans seemed to believe it though, even embroidering it further to their own tastes as it gathered a momentum of its own in a few short days. My curiosity piqued, I looked but I couldn’t find any real evidence that Newcastle United made an approach for Patrick Viera to be the next ‘head coach’ at St James’ Park. Even the guff I’ve read about Steve McClaren coming to Newcastle (and I’ve read alot) seems to be based on the same kind of unsubstantiated “it is understood / sources say” style drivel we see so much of nowadays in the media. Concentrating on the Vieira story first though, I traced the threads of it back to the beginning as I usually do, and in this case it was ‘broken’ by North East Sky Sports reporter, Keith Downie with two tweets below on 30th May, though it seems like longer: (more…)
By his own admission, Rangers’ current caretaker head coach, Kenny McDowall, has been told not only that he has no say in the players they sign, but also that he will only have a limited input into team selection too.
According to McDowall himself, he has been ordered by Mike Ashley and his henchman at Rangers, Derek Llambias, to play ALL of the five new Rangers players (Vuckic, Ferguson, Bigirimana, Streete and Mbabu) on loan from Newcastle. Speaking in an interview at Rangers’ Murray Park training centre, McDowall, who wants to leave at the end of the season said:
“When I was given the job I was told players incoming and outgoing wouldn’t be my responsibility. I take the team and coach the team and I am more than happy to get on with it.”
Which is hardly news to both Rangers and Newcastle United fans. However when pressed on whether he was obliged to play them, he dropped his bombshell, replying:
With Mike Ashley’s recent attempts to take over at Rangers, and specifically his problems with the Scottish FA for having an interest in both clubs, it has often been said recently that Mike Ashley would be willing to leave Newcastle United so he can take over Rangers completely. There have been several hypotheses put forward for why he might do this
Champions League exposure for Sports Direct?
One which makes no sense at all is that Ashley would be willing to sacrifice Newcastle United and the English Premier League to expose his cheap sports goods in that great league of leagues, the Champions League. This would be once Rangers get through the small formalities of getting promoted back to the Scottish Premiership and then beating Celtic to win the Scottish Premiership title. This one is a complete non-starter though as there are two crucial things the proponents of this hypothesis have overlooked.
1. As both Newcastle United and Rangers fans should know from previous European competition, Rangers or any other side are only allowed to display advertising for their shirt sponsors and kit sponsors. There could be no pitch side hoardings or anything else emblazoned with cheap Ashley brands like Sports Direct, Firetrap and all the rest. Only UEFA sponsorship partners are allowed to advertise in both the Europa and Champions League competitions. (more…)
Is Mike Ashley using Giampaolo Pozzo’s selling club network of Udinese, Granada and Watford as a model for Newcastle United, Rangers and Oldham?
To begin at the beginning though, let’s take a brief stroll down memory lane. In the aftermath of Kevin Keegan’s acrimonious departure from Newcastle United in 2008, an under fire Mike Ashley made a statement. In this, among other things, he attempted to outline what subsequently became known as his ‘Arsenal model‘ for the club. In Ashley’s own words:
“My plan and my strategy for Newcastle is different. It has to be. Arsenal is the shining example in England of a sustainable business model. It takes time. It can’t be done overnight. Newcastle has therefore set up an extensive scouting system. We look for young players, for players in foreign leagues who everyone does not know about. We try and stay ahead of the competition. We search high and low looking for value, for potential that we can bring on and for players who will allow Newcastle to compete at the very highest level but who don’t cost the earth.” (more…)
Firstly, I should declare that this piece was originally inspired by another, one of several on Newcastle United’s finances by a brace of accountants who also happen to be Toon fans in the latest issue of fanzine, ‘True Faith.’ It’s a very good read.
Of course, it has been known for quite some time that Sports Direct don’t pay a brass farthing for all the extensive worldwide publicity they get from Newcastle United. This was something which was finally confirmed by the club’s financial director, John Irving, at the first ‘Fans’ Forum’ meeting between representatives of the fans, the club, and sponsors, Wronga.
However it certainly less well known that although Newcastle United have been paid the square root of b*ggerall for all those vulgar signs, they actually had to PAY Sports Direct half a million pounds in 2012-13 as shown in SD’s 2013 Annual Report (page 90 under “Related Party Transactions”). Here you will see that Sports Direct received a payment of £498,000 from “Connected Persons,” Newcastle United Football Club. (more…)
In the piece I ask if they are now in danger of losing their momentum after their first march almost a month ago, which made more of an impact than they might have imagined due to Mike Ashley’s childish and ludicrous overreaction to their little stroll through Newcastle before the game with Liverpool on 19th October.
On the piece itself, well we all know that Sports Direct don’t pay anything for all the advertising at St James’ Park and the club’s Benton training ground. However, some of you who might not follow Mike Ashley’s ever expanding business empire quite as closely as I do may not know that there are several other Sports Direct sub-brands such as Dunlop, Firetrap and Cruise who are also advertising at St James’ Park on a fairly regular basis. (more…)
Entitled “Is Kinnear scouting Ferguson a Sunderland spoof?” or alternatively “Did the Joe Kinnear scouting Shane Ferguson story come from a mischievous Sunderland fan?” (they seem to think that two titles are better than one over there), it originally had the same title as this piece but never mind, at least I’m getting paid!
Anyway, in it I take a look for the origins of Alan Oliver’s laughable story about Joe Kinnear allegedly going to watch Birmingham City’s League Cup victory over Swansea and asking about signing Shane Ferguson. Of course, as Kinnear and all Toon fans know perfectly well already, he is already a Newcastle United player who is currently on loan at the Midlands club. (more…)
What is it with Newcastle? First there is the Cabaye debacle and then there are constant mutterings about a rift in the dressing room. One of the French contingent, Mathieu Debuchy denied any rift of course, saying:
“It’s true that in the dressing room we talk a lot in French. We have a big group of French players. But we avoid always staying together, and we aim to speak in English with the other foreign players and the English ones. But it’s good. There are no issues.
“We have a big group of French players. But we avoid always staying together, and we aim to speak in English with the other foreign players and the English ones. But it’s good. There are no issues.”
Besides thinking that Pardew had put a stop to that sort of thing, this strikes me as odd. It is normal to want to speak to people with whom you’re fluent. If I went to a party that consisted of 11 Mandarin-speakers and Alan Pardew, I’m afraid I’d have to speak to Pardew. I don’t think I’d enjoy that party very much.
This would not mean I had a rift with the Mandarin speakers, merely that I can’t get to the finer points of conversation with them. If fact, I couldn’t even get to “hello.” (more…)