Whatever else you think about Mike Ashley, there are two things about him which I don’t think are open to argument:
First, he is an incredibly successful businessman.
Second, he is very unpopular with a very large section of the NUFC support.
I know that in recent days we’ve heard Tony Pulis saying that the job title didn’t matter (“you can call me Chief Bottle Washer if you like”) – but he is wrong. Especially at Newcastle it will be a real step forward to have a clear definition of roles.
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I don’t think for a minute that there was ever any doubt inside the club under Pardew about who was responsible for what – if you’re a good businessman (and Ashley certainly is) you make sure of that. But a big problem throughout Pardew’s time was with the perception of what was going on from the outside.
Players got sold – Pardew took some of the blame. Players didn’t get bought – Pardew took some of the blame. Now under a traditional English manager it would be reasonable enough to hold him responsible for that – but it became more and more apparent as time went by that as far as a large part of what went on was concerned, Pardew was left dangling as nothing but a puppet – a mouthpiece left to try to justify decisions which he was never allowed to take.
That was damaging in two ways. First, it meant that we had a deeply unpopular manager – and a lot of the stuff which made him unpopular wasn’t within his power. But secondly, it took critical attention away from the things which were part of his job.
Like team selection.
Like set-piece training.
Like player development.
Like not head-butting the opposition.
Those are the things he should be held to account for.
Anyway, as I said at the top, Mike Ashley is an incredibly successful businessman – he makes Alan Sugar look like a market trader (not that I’ve got anything against market traders….).
I expect that he has realised only too well that Pardew was tainted by association with him, and with his decisions, and he’s trying to arrange things better for his replacement. Not that we can expect any change at all in the money side of the business. But at least there will be a clearer definition of roles.
So, when the new man comes in, if we’re unhappy about players being sold – don’t blame the new man.
If we’re unhappy about not signing a new centre forward, or failing to get yet another signing ‘over the line’ – don’t blame the new man.
He’ll only be the Head Coach – he’ll work with what he’s given.
If, however, we go another two years without putting a decent corner into the box……