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Lee Charnley speaks with Mike Ashley pulling the strings

7 years ago

Lee Charnley finally speaks. Congratulations to those at the Chronicle for finally getting a story, having produced articles for weeks that left us none the wiser. We may still be none the wiser but at least a communication channel has been re-opened.

The story breaks down into what we have now been told, and perhaps more importantly, what we have not been told.

As ever, anything that comes out of the club should be treated with a certain level of reservation. Charnley’s predecessor, Derek Llambias, at one point succumbed to issuing the sort of statements about the future of the club that some of us had lobbied for behind the scenes. Unfortunately, in an unguarded moment, as reported by the Daily Mirror, the good was undone by the famous “horrible” comments.

(To feature like Rex, send in your articles for our website to [email protected])

Let’s have a look first at what Charnley has actually said (and left unsaid):

  1. Pardew’s alternative employment was a surprise to the club, even though it might not have been to supporters
  2. No contingency plan was in place in the event of Pardew leaving
  3. We don’t want a yes man, having had one up front for the last 4 years
  4. We moved the club on over the last 4 years
  5. We have had 80 applicants
  6. We want a Head Coach who does not have final say over transfers but may have some input if he is lucky
  7. The Head Coach picks the playing style
  8. The club is run by a holy trinity, Carr, the Head Coach and Ashley. (I stand in as Ashley’s puppet. I hope he is pulling my strings because if I am to be a glove puppet, have you seen the size of his hands?)
  9. We might make a quick decision but then again we might not. (I’m not entirely sure about how decisive I am. In a week I might know but then again, I might not)
  10. We won’t rule out selling, we have just about ruled out buying
  11. I hate talking to journalists
  12. The squad list is full….

OK, so it’s more than the 5 things we need to know, as identified by local journalists. There are some points that stand out in particular.

One of the first things is a sense of pragmatism about the Head Coach. He does not pick players but picks playing style. One of the things that Ashley will have learned is that you might buy a Xisco or loan a Gonzalez but there is no value if the Head Coach is not prepared to pick him. That could be £7.5m + wages saved already.

One of the things that comes across strongly is the style. This is the second statement that has come allegedly from Charnley.

The first was a close replica of a statement from Llambias, including the idea of a manager, sorry Head Coach, who would stand up to him, despite appointing a puppet. If it was crafted by the PR guru, the lovely Sheffield Wednesday supporter Wendy Taylor, then it contained the same typos.

We seem to have some sort of assurances, notably that there are no plans to sell in this transfer window, even if there are no plans to buy. These are the same sort of assurances that we were drip fed by Pardew; not for sale, not at any price, not in this transfer window – just before those players were sold.

One of the critical quotes could prove to be; “I can’t envisage any player we want to retain leaving.” It will be remembered that Cisse was reported as being touted in the last 2 windows, his value will be diminished in the summer.

The journalist could have pushed things; would they stand in the way of the club’s top scorer if he could get a fivefold increase in his wage by moving to China? Does the club have the same sort of contingency planning as it did for Pardew?

It will not be forgotten that the 2nd top scorer for the club and the only one other than Cisse to be in double figures during his career here, and available for the rest of the campaign, is Gouffran – having scored his first for over a year against Southampton. It would also be good to understand the criteria by which we are judged to have improved over the last 4 years.

As supporters will be acutely aware, almost all possibilities are still open for our league position this season. Glenn Roeder emerged from the ranks to qualify for Europe. Other teams with a better record than us at this stage have gone down.

What wasn’t apparently asked was about contingency planning, What if we don’t have a new manager until the end of the season? What if Carver decides he doesn’t want to stand in any longer, after all, he may have hinted at that possibility after the Southampton game? Who of the candidates is available short-term? What if we get relegated whilst Nero fiddles? What are the contingency plans if Carr retires?

We are left with no names, no vision, no contingency plans, no certainty over our future, no concrete plan of action, no direction and no further insight.

Congratulations to Mark Douglas for getting the interview, he might make a David Frost one day. Those of us who campaigned for the Chronicle’s club ban to be lifted can feel vindicated that the club has finally spoken. Now that they are on the case, let’s hear more.

Rex also runs his own website ( which you can visit HERE

(You may also be interested in this spoof Lee Charnley club ‘conversation’ which sounds a bit too realistic after the Managing Director’s interview!)


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