No season is a good season to be relegated…but as has been widely reported, this season would be catastrophic – both financially and being left behind by the other clubs in player recruitment.
Newcastle United, in danger of going down, have therefore took the decision to dispense completely with the football model they have put so much faith in recently and hand the keys to the castle to a man they believe can get them out of another mess that they have got themselves into.
However, have the people who run Newcastle actually admitted defeat and realised their model for success is seriously flawed, or is this just a measure of panic and once/if premier league riches are secured, the previous mode of operation will return.
No doubts at all that Newcastle United are in the position they currently occupy, as they have failed in the two most important areas for running a successful football club.
The first key area is player recruitment, as no matter how well anything else is done, the team is only as good as the players on the pitch. The board have spent excessively on players who simply aren’t good enough, or do not possess the required mental attributes to succeed in this league. Chief scout and board member Graham Carr has taken most of the criticism for this and although I agree he is partly responsible, I don’t feel the entire blame should lie with him.
Carr in my opinion is actually a good scout and has managed to bring some excellent players into the club during his time, but like others at the club he has simply been promoted above his station and given too much control, without the skill or experience for the role at the club he occupies.
The idea behind a football board making decisions on transfers is surely that it provides some continuity in recruitment and therefore players bought under one manager won’t need to be shifted on when a new manager takes over and therefore wasting millions on players the new man doesn’t fancy. But how does offering this level of control to Carr, like Newcastle have in recent seasons, differentiate from giving this level of control to an old school manager. At least if you give the control to the manager, the players signed are players he actually wants to work with.
Player recruitment is not a science and even the best have some mistakes on their lists. Newcastle’s new manager had many Liverpool fans shaking their heads with some of his signings during his time there. Carr has had some success: notably Cabaye, Debuchy, Tiote, Sissoko and Perez to name a few. However, it is also important to mention some of the names that he targeted early and didn’t get, such as Dele Alli, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandra Lacazette and Loic Remy.
The club failed to get these players in when they had an opportunity to push through a deal before other more attractive clubs got involved. The first two in particular could have really made a difference. Where Carr does have serious questions to answer, are through some of his other big money signings and in particular Florian Thauvin. After witnessing the disastrous impact Remy Cabella had on Tyneside, why was he allowed to go out and spend even more money on a similar player in Thauvin, who was quite simply a disastrous signing.
From the moment he (Thauvin) thought it was hilarious to continue posing in his tuxedo it was obvious this was not a player Newcastle should have been targeting when the team has so many deficiencies elsewhere in key areas.
People talk about other Carr signings such as Gouffran but he was a gamble on a squad player for low money and unfortunately he is simply not good enough for this level.
Riviere was a bit of a panic buy but again not a huge amount in modern day football for a striker.
Yanga-Mbiwa was highly rated and probably suffered through not getting the required football to adapt in the league and then being expected to play alongside someone who didn’t complement his attributes.
The signing of Thauvin though, was simply brainless after the previous problems with Cabella adapting to the premier league and other areas of the team were therefore neglected when screaming out for investment.
The second biggest part of running a football club is choosing the manager, as this decision can simply make or break you. A club must choose a leader and somebody who can pull everyone together and create a team. Newcastle United has failed time and again in this area in recent times.
Why was Newcastle’s board so convinced that Steve McClaren was the right man to take charge of the club? Maybe they believed that as he is so highly regarded as a coach he would be the perfect fit for their Head Coach model, however they simply didn’t even consider that the Manager/Head Coach of a football club is the most important person within the club.
The ability to coach players on the football field is just one of many requirements necessary to be a successful boss. McClaren’s lack of tactical nous and ability to motivate players and lead with clear ideas and strength was sadly lacking in the team’s performances this year.
If being a good coach on the training pitch was all that was required, then Brian Kidd would have changed the fortunes of Blackburn Rovers and Don Howe would have been the greatest English Manager in history. Despite this, The Newcastle board seemed to refuse to contemplate any other options despite Steve McClaren turning them down twice.
The team’s performances this season have been so poor that the question needs to be asked would Newcastle now be a premier league club if McClaren had accepted the initial approach (or even the second one at the end of the season), under his leadership the club may well have been relegated last season and now be languishing in mid-table or worse in the championship, despite being favourites to bounce back at the first attempt.
So have Newcastle United learnt their lessons and decided to appoint somebody with the required skills and experience to do the job, or will things just return to the way they were next season.
For a club that appoints Joe Kinnear, as both manager and director of football, and then lets him make the announcement live on Talksport – nothing is out of the question.
Therefore, if Rafa Benitez does manage to reverse the fortunes of this great football club this season, would anybody be completely shocked to hear something along the lines of below coming out of the club around July/August …
‘Newcastle United and Rafa Benitez have mutually agreed to terminate their contract in place due to differences of opinion in regard to transfer dealings and conflicting views on how to take the club forward.
Newcastle United wish to go on record and thank Rafa for all his hard work in keeping Newcastle United in the premier league last season.
Newcastle United are also delighted to announce that the club have also agreed a five year package for the services of former Arsenal midfielder and Lyon & Aston Villa head coach Remi Garde.
The club also announce that they will be making the first transfer of the summer after agreeing an undisclosed fee with Ligue 1 side *********** for the transfer of their French under 23 winger ********** ***********.
The Daily Mirror report further report that ********* ********** has been signed for an undisclosed fee believed to be in the region of £12m and he is a pacy tricky winger with an eye for goal and the club hope he can provide the ammunition for Newcastle’s shot shy strikers who managed to stay in the league last season, despite hitting the net fewer times than any other team.’
Or have the decision makers really learnt their lesson and now realise that getting these areas right, starting with a proper manager who can structure the club from top to bottom, is the way to move forward.
I believe many fans would contemplate taking the drop in division if it meant that Rafa stayed and was allowed to do things his way. Of course what we all want is to manage to survive, send Sunderland down and Rafa is allowed to do things his way from now on.