The Top Ten Newcastle United Manager options under Mike Ashley’s Criteria.
Mike Ashley has set very clear conditions when it comes to appointing managers. Everyone to get the job so far has been from the British Isles. Any permanent appointment that wasn’t promoted from within the club had a good deal of Premier League experience. None have been in a job at the time Newcastle took them on and the oldest was Joe Kinnear at 61.
There’s been much talk of many interesting appointments being possible previously and currently, many of them foreign, from Patrick Vieira, Michael Laudrup and Remi Garde, to Thomas Tuchel and Rafa Benitez. But applying the precedent we’ve already seen, gives a far more realistic overview of our options and provides a very clear indication as to who the candidates to replace Steve McClaren are likely to be, whenever it happens.
I’ve looked at every manager currently 61 or under from our shores to have lasted more than 38 Premier league games at other clubs but not currently in employment. I’ve then ordered these managers by the number of points they won per game in the top flight to find the best the supporters could hope for under these criteria.
- Ray Wilkins – 1.19 points per game
Last seen heading out of Villa Park alongside Tim Sherwood, 59 year old Wilkins has spent most of his coaching career as a number two. However as player manager at QPR in the mid nineties, with a magnificent Les Ferdinand playing up front, Wilkins guided the Hoops to 8th place in the Premier League. Of course, he got the club relegated the following season after Ferdinand moved North to join Newcastle, but that one good run was enough to get him onto the short list.
- Peter Reid – 1.24 points per game
59 year old Monkey’s Heed has 227 Premier League games experience and won 74 of them. His 1.24 points per game would surely be enough to satisfy Mike Ashley, if it could be duplicated it would equate to 47 points per season. More than enough to ensure survival. But it’s a big if, most recently seen managing Freddie Ljungberg at Mumbai City in 2014, he lasted only 6 games there and has survived little more than a year in any job since departing Sunderland, leaving Leeds, Coventry and Plymouth at or near the foot of the table.
- Alan Curbishley – 1.25 points per game
Two days before Kevin Keegan parted company with Newcastle for the third time (second as manager), Alan Curbishley walked away from West Ham in remarkably similar circumstances. Curbishley (58) had won two of the first three games of the season but left the club after two players were sold against his wishes. Like Keegan, Curbishley won a tribunal for constructive dismissal and hasn’t managed since. This demand for autonomy makes his appointment at Newcastle highly unlikely, but his 1.25 points per game record in the Premier League won solid finishes between seventh and fourteenth place six years running with Charlton. He followed that with mid-table finishes in his two seasons at West Ham. His 328 top flight games make him the second most experienced manager in this top ten. He’d surely be exactly what Ashley has been looking for all along, if only they could agree who had the final say on players – within a budget.
- Glenn Hoddle – 1.31 points per game
It’s approaching ten years since Hoddle worked in management now, but at 58 years old there’s been recent murmurs of him taking jobs. He offered his services to Tottenham Hotspur before Tim Sherwood was given the job and he was keen to take over at Swansea following the departure of Michael Laudrup. He rarely looked like he was struggling as manager at any Premier League club. Having got Swindon promoted to the top flight he took the Chelsea job. An FA cup final & semi-final, cup winners cup semi-final and three mid-table finishes followed. He then kept Southampton up and took them to 10th, their highest finish in 6 years. He then went to Spurs who had consecutive mid-table finishes and cup runs to semi-finals and the final but Hoddle lasted only six games of 03/04 when they were in early relegation spots. His last managerial stint at Wolves in the championship ended with fans angry at him for failing to win promotion, but he has more recently had a spell coaching at QPR.
- Garry Monk – 1.31 points per game
Monk took over Swansea in 12th place in February 2014 and despite initially falling to 15th, guided them back to a 12th place finish. His only full season saw them finish a very respectable 8th in 14/15, but in December 2015 he was fired with the club in 15th place having won just one game in eleven, He has the second least experience of all the managers in this top ten, but many feel he was hard done by getting the boot after his first major dry spell.
- Trevor Francis – 1.38 points per game
Who’d have thought that this dinosaur was only 61? It’s over 20 years since he was seen in the Premier league. Sacked by Sheffield Wednesday for a 13th place finish. But they had seen good times – 2 cup finals and a third place finish. Wednesday went downhill quickly from the moment they dispensed with his services. Then again, Francis is the man who said no to Cantona and let Leeds snap him up. That’s like the A&R man that said no to The Beatles, no one will trust your judgement after that.
- John Gregory – 1.48 points per game
Despite managing at many clubs, 61 year old Gregory’s main top flight experience came at Aston Villa. He got them into the UEFA cup in his first season, and led the league for much of his second before a slump in form saw them drop to a finish of 6th. An FA cup final followed too. At the point of his resignation Villa were in 7th place and had lost only six out of 23 games. However a mid-season run of one win in eleven saw a“Gregory Out” banner displayed and much anger at defeat to relegation bait Derby County, with Gregory arguing with fans in the stands. Much was made of his ability to handle the pressure of losing in the top flight and it’s not something he got to disprove, moving between teams of diminishing quality at home and abroad up to his last year long stint at Crawley Town. He left that job due to health issues. Not likely that he’d be keen to get back into the high pressure environment of the Premier League, let alone at Newcastle where the pressure outstrips most.
- David Moyes – 1.52 points per game
Moyes has been widely linked with the job at Newcastle for several years. His excellent record at Everton is well known, where he only once early in the job looked in danger of getting them relegated (they finished 17th). After that they were top 10 ever present and sometimes finished in the top 5. His 7th place finish at Man U and 9th place at Real Sociedad diminished his reputation somewhat, but that wouldn’t put Ashley off, that would be the height of his ambition. What would put Ashley off is two things.
First, Moyes has been well compensated throughout his career. Everton knew the value of a good manager and paid Moyes correspondingly. This isn’t a lesson that Ashley has learned so far. Always showing the attitude of “he’ll do” which runs through Newcastle United and leaves us with Lee Charnley running the club. Moyes would not be inclined to undersell himself. Second, Moyes is renowned for his work managing a budget. At Everton his office was lined with boards that covered every age group at the club. On these boards he would mark which players were up and coming, which had a few years left in them and which were past their best. Moyes prioritised replacing individuals in every area of the park where he saw a deficiency approaching. It’s an approach that would be anathema to Mike Ashley and his desire for a coach only.
- David O’Leary – 1.56 points per game
It’s ten years since O’Leary managed, other than a few months in the UAE. His only 2 jobs in England were Leeds and Villa. At Leeds, O’Leary was the beneficiary of hundreds of millions of pounds being spent on players by chairman Peter Ridsdale. He took the club to the Champions League and UEFA cup semi- finals as well as Premier League finishes of 4th, 3rd, 4th and 5th. Unfortunately the club had no silverware to show for the investment and having failed to qualify for the Champions League in 2002, with a massive wage bill they would now struggle to pay, O’Leary was sacked. At Villa he took a club from the relegation dogfight up to 6th place. It was a short lived improvement. Villa finished 10th the next season and 16th the season after that. There’s been nothing to suggest that O’Leary has been close to going back into management recently, but he’s only 57.
- Brendan Rodgers – 1.66 points per game
Along with Moyes, probably one of only two people on this whole list that Newcastle fans would have any appetite for seeing appointed. Rodgers may like to hang paintings of himself rather than his children around the house and he may have been hounded out of Liverpool where a second place finish and 63 wins and 232 goals scored in 122 games just isn’t good enough, but after what Newcastle have been served these past 5 years, the majority would snap your hand off to get him in.
A mid-table finish with Swansea after they were promoted got him the Liverpool job and showed he could deliver what Ashley is after with limited resources. Unfortunately, he comes with the same caveats that Moyes does. While he fits the criteria to get into this list, where his appointment looks less likely is when you consider wage demands and control over signings.
Who missed the cut?
The other managers that just fell short based on their points per game, but could still be considered are:
- George Burley 1.18
- Stuart Pearce 1.17
- Steve Clarke 1.16
- Steve Coppell 1.12
- Bryan Robson 1.09
- Alex McLeish 1.09
- Nigel Pearson 1.05
- Dave Jones 1.05
- John Deehan 1.04
- Roy Keane 1.02