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Opinion

Is Mike Ashley turning Newcastle United into Sunderland AFC?

2 months ago
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Not content with trying to appoint a former Sunderland manager in Sam Allardyce, Mike Ashley has then turned his attentions to another former Sunderland manager in Steve Bruce.

That’s only a small part of the story as by the time Newcastle United kick off against Arsenal in a month’s time. the club could be littered with a plethora of former mackem cast-offs.

At this rate, the club’s standards are sinking faster than our expected league position…

For starters:

Newcastle currently have Javier Manquillo at right back, a very average defender at best and certainly didn’t pull up any trees at Sunderland.

The alternative to the Spaniard is DeAndre Yedlin who himself plied his trade on loan on Wearside in 2015.

Then in midfield we have free transfer Ki Sung-yeung, who had a season on loan in mackemland in 2013. Now he’s certainly not a bad player and for free, I saw him as quite able as a squad player when he came in last season, but we really should be aiming higher.

His sidekick this season could very well be the outstanding talent of Jack Colback coming in from the cold, a player who I thought we had finally seen the back of long ago after some of the most one-dimensional displays from a midfielder in living memory. What’s that I hear…’Like ‘a new signing’? Music to Mike Ashley’s ears.

If/once Steve Bruce is appointed, he will no doubt be looking at his first signings for the club both on and off the field.

Step forward Steve Agnew, the former mackem midfielder will almost certainly follow Bruce into the St James Park dugout as his assistant.

Forming a bond with Bruce at Sunderland was Stephen Clemence, the former Spurs player taken on as Reserve Team Devlopment coach. It would be a strange move for any manager not to take their backroom staff with them, so we can expect him along for the ride as well.

More worryingly, I can see the club sanctioning one deal to further rub Newcastle fans noses in it. I can foresee one of Steve Bruce’s first signings to be former mackem ‘kick anything that moves’ Lee Cattermole and that’s a frightening thought.

Yes he’s 31 but that wouldn’t be a problem because he’s free, having been released by SAFC this summer.

Don’t say it won’t happen because all bets are off at this club these days.

Now could you imagine Ki Sung-yeung, Jack Colback and Lee Cattermole operating in our midfield this coming season? The referee could have a busy time of it with the latter two.

This is not to say that being employed by Sunderland is an automatic block to coming to Newcastle in any capacity and being accepted and/or doing well. You would have to be very insular and naive to think like that.

Indeed Paul Bracewell came to Newcastle and was a great servant for a few seasons before making the trip back over the Wear and rejoining the mackems, a rare thing indeed. Also, Barry Venison was a good acquisition for the club in 1992 despite his Sunderland connections years previously.

Kevin Keegan (in his first spell) knew a good thing when he saw it and built a great side to get Newcastle out of the Championship and compete in the newly former Premier League and pinching ex-mackems wasn’t a barrier and nor should it be in 2019. However, Sunderland have been awful for over a decade and were actually kept in the Premier League BY NEWCASTLE UNITED for quite a few seasons. It came as no surprise that the second we dropped out of the division, Sunderland soon followed.

But you can’t keep fishing in a rotten pond and expect to catch quality every time, more often than not you will get the knackered rubber boot and that is exactly what Newcastle United have been doing by fishing in the river Wear.

Our state of affairs is entirely of our own making, or rather the owner’s. You don’t allow a world class manager to leave and get in a comparative amateur to do the job. Kevin Keegan was replaced with Joe Kinnear and now Rafa Benitez looks set to be replaced with Steve Bruce. Bravo Ashley! Bra-vo!

I’m sure even Mike Ashley will see the need for recruitment in the first team this season and we should have no fear on this. I’m fully expecting Steve Bruce to adhere to the transfer policy and sign players for cheap and under the age of 26 to maximise sell on value. There WILL be a budget this summer but it won’t be very big. I also doubt Steve Bruce is capable of attracting the players of sufficient quality to succeed.

Just picture the scenes at the training ground when Miguel Almiron sees Bruce barking orders on his first day. He’ll be thinking ‘Bloody hell the kit man’s keen isn’t he?’…

I don’t see Bruce having anywhere near the same sort of clout that Rafa Benitez had in the transfer market as let’s be fair, if you as a player were informed by your agent that Rafa Benitez wanted to sign you, you’d be impressed with the name, the stature, the experience and the accolades that he has won. Steve Bruce? Nothing, not a single bloody thing as a manager. Is this really the level that we have stooped to?

I’ve heard people say that Bruce is ‘a nice bloke’, that shouldn’t be a pass to becoming Newcastle United manager.

Neither should the fact that he’s ‘a Geordie’. If anything it would be an even bigger crime if he took the job, as no one with an ounce of self respect could work for this owner. Steve, have a word with your mate Alan Shearer he might just warn you off.

I’ve also seen reference to the late Sir Bobby Robson, who apparently recommended Bruce as a potential Newcastle manager. So what? Sir Alex Ferguson recommended David Moyes.

There were cries of derision in 2004 when it was rumoured Bruce was to take over from Bobby and if he wasn’t good enough 15 years ago then he certainly isn’t now.

Heck, it’s not like the man is unemployed and in need of work. Managing Newcastle United should be an honour and plenty managers would have seen it as just that but not now and it won’t be until this owner sells up. Any man coming in to this set-up will be a patsy and these days no self-respecting manager would touch this club with a bargepole.

Do yourself a favour Steve and turn down this offer.

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