On Friday, an article appeared on The Mag highlighting the current manager Rafa Benitez and linked him to Sir Bobby Robson and Kevin Keegan’s respective five years each in charge of Newcastle. Stating that if Rafa stays at the club for the same period as the aforementioned, the club will be in a far better place than at the start of his term.
Quite accurate I’m sure we’ll all agree. However, I’ve always been quite sceptical about so-called ‘five year plans’. For arguments sake, lets just say that the plan for Newcastle United is to be back in the Premier League and fighting it out for qualification for a European competition (top 6) by year five.
We could feasibly have achieved that by this summer (year 1) if we’d won the League cup and got promoted as expected. So what happens to the ‘five year plan’ then? Does it change, evolve or just get scrapped?
Cast your minds back to 2011/12.
At the start of that season it was beyond anyone’s imagination that the club could qualify for the Europa League, but it did, and remarkably wasn’t a million miles away from qualifying for the Champions League. So where was that achievement in the ‘five year plan’ publicised in vague fashion by Derek Llambias at the time?
Simple, it wasn’t part of the plan at all. The plan was for the club being able to “wipe its own nose” as I seem to remember the quotes being at the time. However, the worst thing that the team could’ve achieved under that ‘plan’ was qualifying for Europe, as it simply wasn’t budgeted for. How could it have been?
All the team got to take it on to bigger and better things was Vurnon Anita, a steady away utility man at best. Hardly the required investment in a team that we all knew was very limited in what it could achieve.
No meaningful investment was made and as a consequence the following season saw spending forced in January 2013 for a relegation rescue mission, rather than supplementing a European charge. The following three seasons were spent fighting relegation as a result of the lack of a logical plan, finally ending with the club relegated to the Championship (again) and costing the club untold millions in the process. You can bet that wasn’t part of the plan either.
Mike Ashley’s influence has been kept well in the background recently, where it should be, but then we hear rumours of transfer interference. Well let’s hope that’s all it is, as the club has been run oh so professionally in the last 7-8 months.
The best person to leave in charge of this club to develop and evolve any ‘plan’ is the manager, Rafa Benitez.
He will know what’s required in this current transfer window to seal promotion, in the summer to survive in the Premier League, and then what’s needed thereafter if we want to challenge for Europe.