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Opinion

Mike Ashley can’t explain away Sean Dyche or Eddie Howe

2 months ago
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Ahead of last season ending, media reports claimed that Mike Ashley had engaged agents to identify managerial targets to replace Rafa Benitez.

The two that featured most prominently in these reports were Bruno Genesio who was set to leave Lyon this summer and Gennaro Gattuso who was on his way out of AC Milan.

The reports were met with a combination of the usual scepticism at media stories and also fear, surely Mike Ashley was going to do everything he could to keep Rafa Benitez?

However, these names did also pique some interest in the ‘what if ‘ kind of way, in terms of maybe suggesting that if indeed Mike Ashley was forcing Rafa out, just possibly he was going to go for a credible replacement and wasn’t returning to the usual model of a yes man so desperate to take the job, that they would agree to only have power to train and pick the team.

Both Genesio and Gattuso did indeed part company with their clubs but didn’t come to Newcastle and presumably weren’t even considered, when you consider the CV of who eventually go the job. Lyon ended up third in Ligue 1 last season and AC Milan fifth in Serie A, so they would have been ery credible candidates if a Premier League club was looking for a new manager.

Once we knew Rafa was indeed leaving for sure, names who had been previously linked by the media, such as Eddie Howe and Sean Dyche, were once again claimed to be back in the frame.

After Rafa Benitez it was always going to be a case of a manager with a less glittering CV but two managers still in their 40s (Howe 41 and Dyche 48), have done very good jobs at smaller clubs and with each coming up to seven years at their respective clubs, going to a club with the potential of Newcastle would be a realistic plan for both parties (NUFC and either Howe or Dyche).

The two managers have got small clubs promoted and then established them in the Premier League but they know there are limitations with how far they could take them.

So, it has never ever been addressed by the media this summer, but why weren’t either Eddie Howe or Sean Dyche targeted by Mike Ashley and, no disrespect, but how and why did we end up with Steve Bruce?

It wasn’t even as though Steve Bruce was a free agent and certainly his club’s owner wasn’t willingly let him walk away.

Bruce forced the issue by resigning and Newcastle are paying a reported £4m compensation for somebody who no other Premier League club would have considered, why?

Some might say that maybe Mike Ashley did go for Howe and/or Dyche and it was quietly turned down etc etc but as Ashley has shown with Bruce, that doesn’t make sense. If either of those Premier League managers had been targeted then the NUFC owner could have just made the same moves to force the issue, it might have cost a little more in compensation but you would be getting a young manager with a very credible profile.

Lee Charnley has now been talking to The Chronicle and belatedly rubbished the Sky Sports claim that Steve Bruce was their 11th choice after being turned down by 10 others (no,Charnley doesn’t say Bruce was actually 12th or 13th choice…).

Lee Charnley talking to The Chronicle:

“Nonsense.

“Absolute garbage.

“That (Steve Bruce being 11th choice) was a complete fabrication.

“It is disrespectful to Steve and it was done to try and create negativity around him…it is completely false.

“The reality is that we went through a comprehensive and extensive process – Steve was always somebody who was in our thinking – but you have to explore every option.

“Steve is a really nice guy and genuinely cares about the city and the football club.

“He’s somebody we can have a really good relationship with and we can work with, he is also an excellent man-manager.”

Apart from yet again repeating this line about Steve Bruce being a Geordie/Newcastle fan, which none of us care about as a factor in choosing a manager, still none of it makes sense.

If Rafa was leaving for whatever reason, then surely you would have to consider and make an approach for Howe/Dyche before you would ever remotely consider Bruce.

A bit like Koeman leaving Southampton for Everton and Silva eventually getting his way and later swapping Watford for the blue scousers, Howe and Dyche should surely be logical choices for Newcastle, as a very bottom line target.

Only two possible scenarios:

Mike Ashley went for both Sean Dyche and Eddie Howe, in whatever order, and they turned Newcastle/Ashley down.

Mike Ashley didn’t go for either of them.

Both scenarios are very depressing and I’m guessing like me you are assuming that second scenario.

The good thing when the likes of Lee Charnley eventually speaks, or has quotes put out in his name, it does usually give is an unintended extra insight into the Ashley regime.

For me, the killer line is when Charnley says Steve Bruce is ‘somebody we can have a really good relationship with and we can work with’, that tells us everything.

Somebody who is willing to take the job under any circumstances and accept the Mike Ashley model of doing things.

Quite amazing how little importance Mike Ashley gives to the ability of a manager within a football club, quite happy to tell us that Steve Bruce is only a head coach. It is almost as though he sees NUFC like one of his shops, that you have a framework as to how it operates and plenty of other staff, with the NUFC manager’s job being just another small cog in the system and if you ever need to make a change it will have limited effect, for better or worse.

After disasters such as Steve McClaren and John Carver you really think he would realise by now that whilst we are just there to serve Sports Direct, Newcastle United can’t be ran just like one of their jumble sale SD stores.

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