The local press, especially those who have been recently re-ingratiated with the Newcastle United hierarchy, have started to report that John Carver will still be in charge for the Southampton game. Why should the process last so long?
There are lies, damned lies and statistics. There is also the Press. The press would have us believe that this week, officials at Newcastle United have drawn up a shortlist for the next manager.
Ashley is a businessman. Businesses operate on principles, one of those principles is succession planning, another is contingency planning. Businesses recruit at different levels. Businesses negotiate. Newcastle United is a business, why should it be so different?
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Also, note those who are reported to be charged with making a recommendation to the owner. Lee Charnley has recently been put in place. Graham Carr has been scouring Europe for talent, or should that read ‘player talent’.
If you can, please cast your mind back perhaps to 3 events, even if not in chronological order:
- Newcastle played Hull away. Alan Pardew was involved in an incident with a Hull player. The resultant press releases and media comment suggested that he was under warning. The time was not right to find a new manager at this stage during the season but succession planning would have been considered at a time not conducive to managerial change.
- Crystal Palace, a club where Pardew had been a player, sacked a manager and installed someone, who like Pardew, went on to be Manager of the Year. When Tony Pulis left, one of their ‘succession planning’ candidates, a former player with Premier League managerial experience, was under contract. Warnock was cheap and available.
- A manager with a patchy record has been identified as a target for someone else. Compensation is involved. The manager who was employed to “take us to the next level” takes the club from 11th at the time of Hughton’s sacking to 10th, when the team needs 3, perhaps 4 wins from 18 games to achieve safety of Premier League income.
It seems reasonable to assume that a list of potential candidates was in place. Internal candidates may have numbered a few but Beardsley has not got the coaching badges. Carver was the only one. Former players with management experience include Lee Clark and Temuri Ketsbaia, both unproven in the Premier League. Of the players, Coloccini could be a future candidate. Shearer has had a short-term employment experience, while Solano also has a limited record in management/coaching.
Outside those, we have British managers, of which Bruce has a connection to the club but never flown as high as a magpie. Some are up and coming, some have done the rounds, Hoddle and McLaren managed their country. Howe has achieved, so has Adkins, one has stayed with his club, the other has been ditched, twice.
Continental candidates abound. Some are in work some are not. Of those who are not, some have taken a break for personal reasons. Others are in work and would not leave whilst they have a chance of augmenting their CVs. Those who choose to augment may have an irresistible challenge next year.
Let’s also have a look at the recruitment process. Businesses typically will have a first, perhaps a second interview, perhaps even an assessment centre. Candidates will be judged on their record. They will also be judged on what they can bring to an organisation.
Someone, somewhere, Carr and Charnley, will assess compatibility, the ability to work within constraints, the ability to get on with existing employees, vision, style and other factors besides.
Logistical factors will come into play, budgets for recruitment and significantly in retention. Company image may count, if a certain brand of football is desired. The demands of the prospective employee will be considered.
Although a short list may have been in place, some factors will not have been discussed, including expected salary and practicalities. These are what Charnley, Carr and even Ashley may now be considering. Certain negotiations will have to take place to find a compromise.
Relative safety ensures a breathing space. The hierarchy at St James have the opportunity to meet with candidates. Some of those candidates being employed means finding diary space. Unemployed managers can be flown to Newcastle. Those employed in England, Spain, France, Germany, Holland or elsewhere have to be met on location. Even achieving two interviews per day is a practical nightmare. Newcastle United need time.
Negotiations surround not just wages but much, much more. Transfer budgets, backroom staff, remuneration, these are not sorted immediately.
Also on a practical level, immediate results are not time critical. Even if the process is delayed by a fortnight from now, Newcastle United will still need to win 1 game in 4 to more than guarantee the TV income. That feat seems achievable, even with a temporary manager.
A quick appointment addresses the short term. Players can be signed in the transfer window from the bargain basement of the January sales. Longer term targets may not be available until the summer. Conversely, players already with the club approaching the end of their contracts can be retained or have their contracts extended.
In any event, unless a candidate available in the short-term has been identified, before Chelsea is not an option. The following weekend see Southampton at home where the new man has not had a chance to fully assess the squad. A manager without work can be expected to make a difference in the two week break brought about by the FA Cup exit. A long-term appointment will have almost half a season to assess needs for the summer, the transfer budget potentially augmented by expensive sales.
A summer appointment could have a transfer budget, according to the accounts and with potential player sales, of up to £100m.
After the Southampton game, we will know if it is to be from the ranks of the employed, or the unemployed.
Let’s hope the level he (or she) takes us to is above 9th.
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