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Tyne Talk

Just who are these people at Newcastle United?

6 years ago

When anybody is signed up by Newcastle United, you instantly try to sweep any negative thoughts you previously harboured about them, whether it is a new player, manager, owner, tea lady, whoever.

You know that whatever happens you are going to be stuck with them for at least X days/weeks/months/years, so you look for the positives because if despite your doubts they end up being a success, then everybody will be happy.

So when the likes of Graeme Souness and Sam Allardyce signed up, you gritted your teeth and saw experienced Premier League managers who just maybe could confound you.

Likewise, continuing to buy players you had never heard of from Ligue 1, you have to force yourself to think this could be the one, despite an endless trail of similar signings who prove they aren’t up to the job, such as Amalfitano, Haidara, Gouffran, Marveaux, Riviere…Saivet?

So in the summer of 2015 we kept our grins plastered on faces and welcomed Steve McClaren into Newcastle United – instead of the man who had failed almost everywhere he had managed, he was the one who won a trophy at Middlesbrough and a league title in Holland with a dodgy Dutch accent, plus he wasn’t Alan Pardew.

Likewise, the fact he was said to have appointed his own backroom staff was a relief and after all Ian Cathro had been at Valencia…supporters of course also more than desperate to see the back of John Carver and Steve Stone after their comedy double act in the second half of last season.

I think though that after eight months and over two thirds of the season gone, we are entitled to ask the question – ‘Just who are these people?’.

Steve McClaren

Failed with England, failed at Wolfsburg, failed in the Championship with Forest and Derby, initial success in Holland with a title win in his second season with FC Twente but failed in his second spell there.

Won the League Cup by beating Bolton in the final when at Middlesbrough but despite being bankrolled by Steve Gibson he managed only one top ten finish in the Premier League when at Boro, his only top ten finish in the Premier League in his entire career.

In the 10 years since he last managed in the Premier League, no other PL club apart from Newcastle have shown any interest in taking him on.

Paul Simpson

Experience as a manager in the lower leagues at likes of Shrewbury, Rochdale and Northwich Victoria, before ending up as first team coach at Derby in the Championship under McClaren. 

Ian Cathro

Steve McClaren was turned down by a series of potential assistants, including Phil Neville and Bolo Zenden, before the name Ian Cathro came out of the blue.

Still only 29,Cathro had no experience in English professional football before arriving at St James Park last summer. Never making it as a professional player, Ian Cathro coached the young players at Dundee United and did some work for the Scottish FA, through that he met his future boss, Nuno.

When Nuno was appointed manager of Portuguese club Rio Ave in 2012, Cathro became his assistant, then followed him to Valencia in 2014. In his only season as assistant to Nuno, the club finished fourth in La Liga (the previous four seasons Valencia had finished 3rd, 3rd, 5th, 8th).

Citing personal reasons and wanting to return to the UK, Ian Cathro resigned from Valencia at the end of the 2014/15 season and came back home. Some weeks later after Neville, Zenden and others were reported to shown no interest in taking the job, Newcastle suddenly named the then 28 year old as McClaren’s assistant.

Alessandro Schoenmaker

The fitness expert has followed Steve McClaren around from club to club, country to country. Employed by him at FC Twente, Wolfsburg, Nottingham Forest and Derby County.

Steve Black

Motivational coach who is credited mainly with success in rugby, working with the likes of Jonny Wilkinson and the British Lions rugby team. Previously worked at both Newcastle United and Sunderland, Steve Black’s last job was with QPR who finished rock bottom of the Premier League in the 2014/15 season.

So here we are, staring relegation in the face with only 12 games remaining and these people above are the ones who have the responsibility of averting disaster.

This isn’t a character assassination of these people above and they obviously have all forged a career in professional football and gained relative success BUT are they of the calibre that a club like Newcastle United should be relying on?

Seventh biggest turnover in English football, in the top twenty turnovers of world football, attendances regularly making Newcastle one of the top ten best supported clubs in Europe.

I’m sorry – but if they had succeeded at St James Park then it would have been massively against the odds. a huge surprise considering their profiles and past lack of success (of course this is mainly aimed at McClaren, Cathro and Simpson, as the fitness/motivational coaches can only do so much).

To add a whole extra ridiculous level of madness to this, Mike Ashley then chooses this as the time to spend all of the money he had stockpiled when failing to properly strengthen the squad in previous transfer windows.

A team/squad that only survived on the final day of last season, then has £50m spent on a handful of young inexperienced (apart from Wijnaldum) from weaker foreign leagues who had never previously played in England.

Then a further £30m spent in desperation in January to try and rescue the situation, just as happened in January 2013.

More money simply thrown at the problem but seemingly no second glance at the people you are trusting to run the whole show!


I hate to say it but Alan Pardew has far more of a track record in the Premier League than Steve McClaren has ever had.

Likewise, you may not want to hear it but at least on paper, John Carver has a far more credible profile as an assistant in the Premier League (under Sir Bobby etc) than Ian Cathro or Paul Simpson.

There is nothing to say that the people in charge at Newcastle United (including Lee Charnley!) can’t be a success BUT common sense and their past records/form/profiles tells us that the odds are very much stacked against it.

Mike Ashley took his biggest ever gamble with Newcastle United in the last year and from the momeent when he trusted John Carver to be a ‘safe pair of hands’ until at least the end of last season, it has proved a disaster.

I have no idea whether getting rid of Steve McClaren at this point would be for the best, though that is largely down to having no faith in which yes man he would bring in next. If I thought Mike Ashley would at last accept that his way of running the club is catastrophic and he is willing to try and run it in a normal way (or preferably sell up), including employing the best person he can attract and let them get on properly with the job, then I would definitely push the button now and send McClaren on his way in an attempt to retrieve the situation.

Just like on the pitch, Newcastle United need the very best people they could possibly attract, to firstly make the club safe and then go on to try and bring success.

Whatever happens between now and end of play on Sunday 15 May, Steve McClaren simply can’t be allowed to continue at our club into next season.

The club and supporters deserve far better and it is the very least we should be able to expect, even with somebody like Mike Ashley as the owner.


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