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History Repeating Itself At St.James’ Park?

8 years ago
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It hardly seems possible that it’s only 10 months since I was writing an article trying to dissuade Alan Pardew from even thinking about taking the England manager’s job in the wake of Fabio Capello’s resignation. Now the odds are falling faster than the leaves off the trees, that he could be the next manager to enter the sack race after NUFC’s recent dip in form.

All I can say is I sincerely hope that Mike Ashley (and his faithful elf Derek) show more faith in Pards than they did in Chris Hughton this time two years ago, if they want to enjoy anything like a Merry Christmas on their visits up to Tyneside this yuletide.

Of course, when managers are said to be in danger of getting the bullet, the classic counter argument of Alex Ferguson at ManU in 1989/90 is wheeled out as an example of how showing faith in a beleaguered boss can pay dividends in the longer term. By comparison with Alan Pardew – given that what he’s achieved for us in the last two years has massively outstripped Fergie’s contribution to the cockney reds between 1986 & 89 –  I couldn’t agree more with that sentiment…

Sadly there’s been no historical precedent such as Fergie for what sticking with a manager might do for us at NUFC – the nearest probably being the board that stuck by Joe Harvey during the difficult first few seasons following promotion in 1965, then were rewarded with the Fairs Cup in 69. There have, however, been several examples of ‘what might not have been’.

The classic, of course, is Sir Bobby, who Hall & Shepherd sacked after successive 4th, 3rd & 5th place finishes in the PL, plus two impressive seasons in European competition to boot. What happened next I don’t need to recount but I’m sure we can all agree that things would almost certainly have worked out better if they’d stuck with SBR until at least the end of that season (04/05).

Going even further back there was Arthur Cox, not sacked, but let go for the want of a few extra quid in his wage packet, after he’d got us promoted in 1984. This was the man who’d signed KK while he was still England captain, of course (and we were mid-table Second Division!), and had taken a ‘gamble’ on Peter Beardsley after other more famous managers had turned him away. Needless to say, between 84 and 89, NUFC remained massively under-funded under the infamous Seymour/McKeag administration, something which stymied the best efforts of all the managers that followed.

During the same timescale, Cox took Derby – relegated from Div 2 in the same season we got promoted – from the third division to the first, finishing sixth in the top flight in the same season we went back down, an achievement that had cost them a fraction of what even Newcastle had spent in transfers!

What might have been, had those two managers not left Newcastle when they did, we can only speculate at, but the cost to the club in both cases was incalculable given the passage of time.

It might just “pay” to take note of that, Mr Ashley, if you have any long term plans for NUFC…

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