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Headless chickens coming home to roost

7 years ago

It is perfectly possible that Steve McClaren will eventually manage to secure the services of a top class coach. It is equally possible that he won’t.

McClaren himself is, or was, a very good coach and will know a good coach from a poor one. It’s said there is an up and coming coach at Swansea who might agree to come. Fans can have confidence that McClaren, unlike John Carver, will make good decisions as a manager.

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The difficulty is not that football people think McClaren doesn’t know what he’s doing. The difficulty now is that McClaren is being buried by chickens coming home to roost. Our club is a basket case.

Outsiders look at all these chickens in a basket and have politely decided to have nothing to do with us.

Steve Round, who worked at Newcastle under Sam Allardyce and Kevin Keegan (although this doesn’t appear on his Wikipedia entry) and will have noticed the peevishly incompetent modus operandi of Mike Ashley, has turned us down. So have Phil Neville and Bolo Zenden.

And of course there are all those failed advances for strikers costing roughly five million pounds more than we are prepared to pay for them.

A bold declaration is made through Newcastle patsy media outlets, and then shortly afterwards the Chronicle piles in with all the insuperable problems that lie in the way of the Toon getting their man.

This is drowned out by new trumpeting about some cheaper geezer we have never heard of being on the club’s radar, shortly to be followed by news of a smaller but more ambitious club snapping him up.

None of this is surprising to those of us who have observed Ashley closely for the last eight years. It was all bound to happen. As I have constantly pointed out, Mike Ashley believes the world must conform to his concept of it. And if it doesn’t, or won’t, he will stamp his foot until it does.

For a while the football world looked on and assumed Ashley would see the error of his ways. Eventually he would see the club would fail if he kept on behaving in such a bizarrely wilful and self- defeating fashion. But no. Ashley was, and still is, waiting for the football world to get in step with him.

He has set the club up perfectly, from his point of view.

It will carry out his wishes even though he has no day to day contact with it. The club is run by a yes man who is gamely implementing the owner’s programme even though it is clearly destined to failure. He will have been confused by Ashley’s declaration on the last day of last season that it was now time to bolt the horse onto the cart.

There is no horse, and nor could there ever be one at Newcastle, as he well knows.

And amidst the smoke and mirrors generated by friendly media partners, the football world is gradually coming to see that there is no cart either.

What there is, the world is coming to realise, is somebody clinging to his job and wailing at people who are walking away from him and the whole stinking mess, pleading with them to turn round and help him come up with a cart.

The problem is that football people know what the truth of what Ashley said he too knew – the most important thing is to get a horse. But there has never been a horse. What there is now, as I say, is a load of chickens.

The chickens in charge, to extend the suitably ludicrous metaphor, are headless, because they’re being deserted by season ticket holders, and by other football clubs, and by footballers, and now by football coaches.

The irony is that there is money to spend. Ashley is still stamping his foot, but he has realised he will have to change a little. But it is all far too little, and far, far too late. The damage has been done. That’s what he doesn’t realise.

People sense the club is doomed. Good people are turning away.

There is no chance of a watchable, successful team next season.

Relegation already seems likely. By the time this disaster has played itself out even those fans who somehow still remain will have had enough.

I wonder, frankly, how long McClaren will put up with being humiliated by being seen with the awful people he now works for.


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