Newcastle United FC is broken. There is only one person who can fix it and that is Mike Ashley. Ashley, quite simply has to intervene and quickly. He needs to start paying the football club he owns some serious attention otherwise his asset, which you and I know as Newcastle United, a PL football club, is going to be relegated and lose its value and fail to provide him with what he wants – a billboard for his business interests. It is in Ashley’s interests and ours to start thinking very seriously what he does next. Inertia is not an option.
Ashley has to recruit an experienced and competent Chief Executive to run the club. Not a crony, a mate or someone he knows from his business world but a proper football person who understands how football works but who has a vision for the club, can communicate and who can repair the damage that has been done and is continuing to be done under the woefully inadequate people he has appointed to key positions. Someone who has his own ideas and isn’t a flunky as per Charnley et al. The first job Ashley and his new CEO have is to recruit a new first team manager. Not a coach or any of that nonsense but a manager who will build a proper football team, strengthen the positions that need to be strengthened and have a strategy to take the football club forward so it is able to fulfil its enormous potential. That of course will necessitate the removal of Steve McClaren, Lee Charnley and Graeme Carr who have all failed and will continue to fail the club with the current model which is simply dysfunctional. No-one can expect Charnley or Carr to make the right calls on managers or players. That is painfully clear.
There is no time to delay and I would hope Ashley would recognise the peril the club is in right now and move quickly. I’d hope a new manager would be in the dug-out by Saturday. There are managers of some pedigree out there but as a way forward my preference would be David Moyes at this moment in time. That’s not because I think Moyes is the perfect manager or anything like it but I do think he has the experience to save United. Allowing Moyes to get in now would see him assess the current playing staff, start planning to bring in the type of players who can save the club’s Premier League status and there is an opportunity to do that in January.
The new manager will be aware of those players who are a waste of time and those who might be able to get a tune from. For me, Tiote, Cisse, Coloccini and Sissoko have to be packed off and quickly. They are priorities for the door. Others can follow in the summer. They are stinking the dressing room out and providing absolutely no value for money, leadership or anything approaching it. New lads need to be brought into that dressing room who the manager knows and respects and who have some professional pride. We need players who will run through fire for the shirt. Right now we simply have too many players who have poor characters – and that is something which amazingly was admitted by Jack Colback in one of those e-mails we all get from United every now and again.
We don’t have to discuss if McClaren isn’t up to it – he patently isn’t – but the people around him on that so-called “football board” (sic) make life impossible for any manager and their time has to be up. It has to be up now. Not enough was done in the summer, as people like us were at pains to point out but what was done wasn’t good enough and the question wasn’t just one of money on this occasion, it was of straightforward football knowledge. Money has been squandered and not for the first time.
If Ashley does not intervene this week and instead imagines keeping faith in Carr, McClaren and Charnley is some kind of article of faith in how he thinks a club should be run then he will be guilty of one of the biggest acts of folly in the history of Newcastle United FC. Ashley quite simply has to act. If he doesn’t or worse if he allows more of Carr’s targets to be recruited and have deals agreed by Charnley then a woefully inadequate McClaren will take United into the Championship where I don’t see a quick return.
I implore Mike Ashley to get involved and make the right calls, otherwise we are done.
Of course there are some who believe relegation won’t be a bad outcome. I’m sorry that does not wash. United will sink and I don’t imagine for one second Ashley will do the right thing by United and find a good owner who he can sell the club to on favourable terms. Ashley will soak every penny out of United via parachute money before he sells up eventually to the kind of people who buy desperate football clubs of the type we have only an hour and half train’s journey away in Leeds as an example. There is absolutely no guarantee relegation will deliver some kind of nirvana and every risk a Chellino or Oyston would get his hands on our club. If it could be guaranteed that we’d get to having a set-up like Portsmouth, I’d say bring it on but there isn’t. Retaining our PL status gives us more chance of getting an owner who will take the club seriously. Outside the PL we become vulnerable to all kinds of sharks – but only after Ashley has bled the club dry and left the kind of deals in place that Llambias sorted for him at Rangers FC with the merchandise (if we haven’t already got it). I have a mental image of Ashley taking the light-bulbs out at SJP on the last day of his ownership at United and I perfectly expect rotten fish under the floorboards for whoever follows him.
There is of course talk of boycotting games again – a prospect raised by no less a Newcastle United figure as the great Kevin Keegan this last week. Personally, if Ashley does not act and does not act quickly, I believe the time is right to target a televised match at SJP and have the kind of boycott that was so staggeringly successful last season against Spurs. Now, I expect the comments box below to be filled with the urgings of those who have already chucked it on a more permanent basis and who are utterly convinced theirs is the right path, though cannot detail how their own self-imposed exile has delivered any results whatsoever. I’ll be honest, if the tone of those who favour a boycott is of the hectoring, insulting type I’ve experienced (apparently I’m an Ashley collaborator) then people will just close their ears to the noise that comes from some fringe groups and I’ll be one of them. No-one ever really became convinced about changing their mind by being harangued, insulted or anything else. I say that as someone who can give it out as well as take it in a good honest row. No, it’s my opinion that without quick, decisive action from Mike Ashley a boycott should be back on the agenda and quick. Not that I’m volunteering to organise it. Social media etc. is rammed with what seem to be willing soldiers or more accurately digital generals whose passion is obvious. I’m becoming tired with it all and others need to step up to the plate.
We have Liverpool this weekend a club that has a buzz about it again because of the drive and enthusiasm of Klopp, a man who is fizzing with energy, ideas and expertise. I bet he doesn’t do everything he’s told, I bet he makes the people in the boardroom know what he wants to take the great Anfield club forward again. He has something of the Keegan about him – no-one’s fool, a strong-willed, determined man of action – no Yes Man of the type who have stunk United out for years.
I’ll be at the match on Saturday and apologies to anyone that offends but I think I’ll be watching it though my fingers.
Keep On, Keepin’ On …