Rafa Benitez, Alan Pardew or Dennis Wise…
There we go then, after 9 months of apathy, joy, frustration, rage and bewilderment, the club with the most erratic gestation period known outside pregnancy, sends us for our 3 month recuperation period, no wiser as to the status of the club than we were last August.
We have good players in there, we also have makeweights, to put it diplomatically.
The position of the manager is the most intriguing though, however, trying to second guess Ashley makes Churchill’s description of 1940s Russia as a ‘riddle wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma’, seem like a Sun crossword.
Ashley made no bones about his intentions when buying out Freddy and his mates, we were a vehicle for selling tracksuits and trainers, fair enough, we knew were we stood.
It is also to the club’s benefit that it is his own money at stake and not that of shareholders or rapacious banks. However, he must balance the need to, well, balance the books for the ‘fair play’ rules, to progress the team to his aspired aim of challenging the top 4. This will either cost quite an investment, or employing a more proven manager. Are we to be merely afund raising operation to repay his loans, or genuine players in the Premiership game? Speculate to accumulate with the added TV exposure of regular European games?
Doubtless you have heard the rumours of Benitez being approached and doubtless the reaction of many of you will be the same as mine, in that we have more chance of tempting Ferguson out of retirement. Why would he need to come here?
However, a recent press conference by him and stories attributed to ‘sources close to’, suggest that it isn’t the improbability I first thought. He would consider either a club well minted, or one with a ‘2 to 3 year project’, which certainly puts us in the frame. For myself I’d give the bloke a piggyback up here, he would be an excellent appointment.
That said, the negative aspect creeps in. Would he be prepared to be totally subservient to Ashley and Llambias? Precedent suggest not, he likes autonomy.
There are clearly elements of the squad not totally in trusting of Pardew’s methods, we are tactically naïve, technically lacking in some areas and have the overall lightning pace in the squad of tectonic plates. I confess to realising that Pardew is probably not going to get any better than this and considering he was hired to progress us, then logic dictates that having done so, he passes the baton on when his race is run.
We all fear though, what dread names of managerial dole bound Londoners lurk in Ashley’s phone book?
Dave Bassett? Terry Venables? Dennis Wise???
As ever at the end of a season, we always say this next transfer window is the most important in the history of the club, and whilst this summer isn’t as potentially cataclysmic as the relegation season of a few years ago, there are chances to progress.
Imagine the players a manager of the standing of Benitez could attract. So Ashley has a chance to stick or twist, stick and float around mid-table morphing into a feeder club for those with more ambition, or twist and become the club that exploits that policy in other teams.
If it is to be ‘stick’, then tell your manager to stop whining about the Europa League and next season stop treating the domestic Cups like a forfeit, rather than an opportunity.
If it is to be ‘twist’, then imagine your products potentially being advertised in Madrid rather than ‘Backofbeyondistan’, Munich rather than a welfare park in a dodgy area of Athens.
I suspect we’re in for more of the same but until my doctor tells me otherwise, I’ll keep turning up and playing emotional Roulette, and pray my suffering heart lasts longer than our latest 5 year plan.
If you would like to feature on The Mag, submit your article to [email protected]