Squeaky bum time has passed and Newcastle United are safe, Mike Ashley has spoken and says he didn’t expect this.
Countless NUFC fans predicted what was happening. Why didn’t Ashley see?
Looking back, it was widely claimed that Ashley did not do ‘due diligence’ on NUFC when he bought the club. Sometimes, that is hard to believe. In Chris Mort, his first Chairman, he had a legal adviser at the top of the profession, someone who could spot a note to the accounts from miles away. The evidence of the extra loan was in black and white.
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Having added to the black and white by turning us a little blue too, something that he has done all too frequently over the last 8 years.
In January I appealed for full consideration to be given to the appointment of a quality coach. I had my reasons, many of which were to do with having a picture of John Carver. Due diligence showed that he did not have the best managerial record in the world, partly down to his 30% win ratio in the heights of MLS.
Those of us who have been around for a few years, are perhaps superstitiously, reminded of our experience. Some things change, some things stay the same. Carver was once a player, giving up the game through injury. He made his way back through coaching, firstly in schools. There were a lot of similarities with a previous experience.
Back in the 1970s, some of us were experiencing Newcastle United for the first time. I confess to having started my Newcastle United interest back in the 1960s, in the South East, son of someone who joined up for military service at Barnard Castle, consequently thinking that this was a team who only played away.
The parental return to the North East coincided with the season that Gordon Lee left for another club (Everton), considered by many to be smaller, in the same way that Pardew left for Palace.
Curiously, before Pardew, the last manager to be replaced by his deputy after a resignation was Gordon Lee. That situation demonstrated how hard it is for a coach to step up and successfully secure a permanent position, a bit like Ramsey at QPR, Sbragia at Sunderland, Terry Connor at Wolves and many more.
The similarities between Lee and Pardew do not stop there. Lee came with a philosophy that took characters out of the team. Pardew was in charge of the systematic selling or non-renewal of contracts for the likes of Nolan, Smith, Barton and others. Lee is renowned for the transfer of Terry Hibbitt in particular, allegedly dumping him in the Midlands after a match.
One of the first things that Gordon Lee did was to sell Supermac, an icon for Newcastle supporters (home or away), the man who had his own record of scoring 5 goals in a match for his country. Pardew let hat-trick heroes go; Nolan, Ba, Carroll, Best and Shola Ameobi.
Supermac was a number 9 who had developed strong associations with the area. The first number 9 sold under Pardew was an equally uncompromising centre forward, albeit born more locally. Both were sold for record fees.
Both Dinnis and Carver were appointed after a flood of comments reported by players in the local media, suggesting that they would be popular choices.
When Lee left during the season, as with Pardew, Newcastle were within touching distance of a European qualification place. To Dinnis’ credit, despite losing 4 on the trot, a win against one of the two teams that Carver beat, Aston Villa, sealed a UEFA place.
The next season Dinnis went on to record an unwanted record, 10 defeats in a row. Actually, looking back, that should read 10 LEAGUE defeats in a row. Dinnis did actually manage a win and a draw in the UEFA Cup, against Irish club Bohemians. The other UEFA tie, against Bastia, including a certain Johnny Rep, was an eye opener for those of us who were young at the time, as to the quality of football overseas.
Carver, of course, went on his own 10 game run, not successive league defeats but without a win. In those 10 games his record proved to be the poorest in the league, with one point more than Dinnis.
Dinnis ended up with the sack, with the legitimate excuse that he was not provided with the depth of squad to be able to challenge. How things change!
If Ashley had listened to those of us who chose to share our memories from history, perhaps he would have realised that history often repeats itself. Carver cannot necessarily be blamed for being put in the hot seat. Owners can be blamed for their appointments, they can also be blamed for not replacing players adequately.
Dinnis was sacked and replaced with an old school manager with international credentials, a bit like Steve McClaren in some ways. Newcastle went down.
Curiously, on the one occasion previously when Pardew was replaced by his assistant, Parkinson at Charlton, the club’s fortunes deteriorated. On other occasions, his clubs have gone for a change in direction. Coppell took Reading where Pardew could not, to the Premier League. Curbishley gained 7 wins in 9 to save Pardew’s Hammers. Adkins took Southampton from League One to where Pardew could not, the Championship then Premier League.
Since Ashley has delegated to Charnley, there is a lesson as to how history can be positively repeated. Invest in talent, invest in a manager, someone who has demonstrated a level of success and can repeat it, not short-term like Pardew, but over a period.
Mike Ashley shouldn’t have been surprised, the writing was on the wall. Having got away with it, it is now up to him what lessons he learns from history.