Mike Ashley to replace Steve McClaren?
That is the hot topic on Sunday, following a Saturday spent dissecting yet another disgraceful showing from players and management.
At any normal club, Steve McClaren being sacked would be very old news, as he would have been given the chop months ago as it became apparent just how useless he is – far worse than even some of us feared.
That though is the point, Newcastle are not a normal club under Mike Ashley and which is why we didn’t end up with a normal choice of manager last summer or January (2015).
Both Alan Pardew and John Carver were given the job primarily because they would do as they were told, not expect to be given any authority (or subsequent respect from) choosing players etc, whilst at the same time fully briefed as to deflecting any criticism of Mike Ashley at press conference pre and post-match.
Normal clubs in the position Newcastle found themselves would either be looking for a young manager on the up (Eddie Howe etc), or one with a valid recent track record in the Premier League or equivalent abroad, where things hadn’t worked out in their last job.
Newcastle got Steve McClaren. After a very average start to management at Middlesbrough with one top half finish in the Premier League despite being backed by Steve Gibson’s money, McClaren then had one later short period of success when he managed FC Twent to the Dutch title.
Other than that his management record reads; failed with England (didn’t qualify for 2008 Euros), sacked by Wolfsburg (Bundesliga), failed at Forest (Championship), failed at FC Twente (after returning for second spell) and then finally sacked by Derby County (Championship).
Newcastle chose Steve McClaren for all the same reasons Pardew and Carver got the job, he was willing to have no authority (this was made clear by the club when they stated what the job description of Head Coach was), do as he is told and talk rubbish at press conferences to deflect criticism of Mike Ashley – three boxes ticked.
Which brings us to David Moyes, Rafa Benitez, Jose Mourinho and Brendan Rodgers, the four names seemingly on the lips of most supporters.
I think here we have a severe case of collective amnesia.
How is any credible person, such as any one of these four, going to be interested in the Newcastle United job. For that to happen, there would have to be a total acceptance by Mike Ashley that he had got everything wrong and he’d have to hand over total control of the club (in terms of how it was run) to another individual.
That. Is. Not. Going. To. Happen.
Does anybody really think that Mike Ashley is going to do all of the above AND hand over a massive three to five year contract to one of the four above whilst at the same time paying off McClaren and his band of staff? Especially when there would still be no guarantee of Newcastle staying up.
I see only two options.
The first would be a cosmetic change, with the so far totally silent number two, Ian Cathro, being named as the person stepping forward and assuming control of team affairs, with Steve McClaren given a title of Director of Football or similar. How much actual difference there would be on the training pitch and decision making is open to doubt, but as far as Mike Ashley would be concerned, he’d been seen to take action to try and halt the slide into the Championship.
The second, and only alternative (in my opinion), would be some mad short-term offer to a character like Harry Redknapp (with McClaren again being given a different title). A two month conbtract heavily weighted with a huge bonus of ‘Arry kept Newcastle up.
Mike Ashley is not at this point going to chuck any more good money after bad.
Either option would/could see him still retain all the current staff and potentially keep them all on for next season as well, whichever division Newcastle are in.
Cathro could continue as Head Coach or return to his current role (whatever that is!) and somebody else brought in to be Head Coach.
Likewise, if Harry Redknapp (or similar) came in, if Newcastle stayed up then Redknapp might fancy taking it on longer if he could split his time with home in the south, or he could just bank the bonus and head back down south.
Mike Ashley left it far too late when giving Alan Shearer a short-term contract and only eight games to try and save a desperate situation.
Clearly this must be now or never for Ashley after Bournemouth and pre-Leicester with 10 games remaining.
Will he push the button though?
(To feature like Dean, send in your articles for our website to [email protected] – all views those of the author etc etc)