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Stick With The Plan Mr Ashley

8 years ago

Have you ever seen the animated film ‘Antz’? Very good it is.

Anyway, there’s a scene at the start when the ants are marching in single file, transferring food in the regimented way they do. An incident happens and the line is broken, pandemonium ensues, “The line the line, we’ve lost the line”, shout the frantic insects like Corporal Jones from Dad’s Army. The line is restored and their lives have structure and meaning again.

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The same principle applies with football clubs and plans, “Got to have a plan, must have a plan”, is the boardroom mantra everybody must follow. Indeed, the latin inscription on our club badge should read ‘In medius a 5 annus intentio’, which for the minority non-latin scholars in the NE reads, ‘In the middle of another 5 year plan’.

Plans are normally the reserve of governments and the military, and as most governments couldn’t run a domino card let alone a country, this isn’t the greatest recommendation. Considering also that the military aspect was used mainly by belligerent football supporters in the 60s 70s and 80s, that maybe isn’t the ideal precedent either.

The thing about a plan though, is that the participants must be right. I had a plan in my youth, I was going to woo, seduce and marry Gillian Blake from the 70s tele series ‘Follyfoot’. I carried many torches for the gal. All I needed was a plan, and it was devilishly simple. All I had to do was:

1 – accentuate my good points

2 – Get a job that made decent money, to keep her in the style I imagined she lived in.

3 – Portray a worldly image, with a touch of enigmatic roguishness.

4 – Find out where the series was filmed.

What could be easier?

Sadly it failed, not because of the plan, but the berk implementing it.

1– No good points, I resembled Ian Dowie in a hall of mirrors.

2 – I was making less money than a Filipino maid.

3 – My worldly background consisted of 2 failed blind dates.

4 – There was no Google Earth.

This is the problem with NUFC’s plan at the minute. The plan is admirable but the participants are lacking. Bringing in the best of young European talent for buttons and then flogging them on like Estonian pole dancers isn’t working.

They’re either injured or bumming around the reserves. None are progressing and the first team is struggling through the aforementioned injuries, or just a plain lack of competition allowing complacency to creep in. Frustration amongst supporters is palpable, how can things so apparently meticulously planned work so well one season, simply fall apart a few months later?

The still deeply held suspicions about the regime quickly rise to the surface in times of tension, and for ‘running the club as a self sustaining entity’ we read ‘doing it on the cheap with fingers crossed’. Let us not forget either, that all this talk of challenging for a Champions League spot on a regular basis isn’t as a result of a supporter manifesto, but something trotted out by Derek Llambias last season.

If we escape the drop this season, whither Pardew in the plan? He was hired to take us to the next level, well, some would say European qualification is that level, but he has a track record of falling over at the 2nd season hurdle, does Ashley blink and get another mate in?

The principle of the academy system, as stated, is fine in principle, but can we afford to let the work of the last 3 or 4 seasons go to waste by getting someone else in? Pardew isn’t a bad manager, but the consequences of losing your place at the Premiership teat for a 2nd time would be ruinous for us, and by association – Ashley as well.

Ashley has proven in his business role, that he’s not afraid to take the unpopular decision and also he would win most ‘who’ll blink first’ competitions, but this is bigger than Sports Direct.

This is about a city, a region, a shared belief that the stadium that overlooks this great city represents everything the citizens stand for. Stick with the plan if you must Mike and Derek, after all, what have you got to lose???



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