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Whatever happened to these 5 managers who turned Mike Ashley down before Steve Bruce appointed?

9 months ago
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Mike Ashley is someone who is used to getting his own way.

The Newcastle United owner eventually appointing Steve Bruce as his Head Coach on 17 July 2019.

This only happened after a prolonged stand-off with Sheffield Wednesday and their owner Dejphon Chansiri.

Having given an out of work Steve Bruce a lifeline when appointing him on 27 January 2019 and bending over backwards to accommodate Bruce who’d had personal life issues to sort, Chansiri wasn’t exactly happy to see Mike Ashley wanting to take their manager away, less than six months after they’d gone to such great lengths to appoint Steve Bruce and make life as smooth as possible for him.

The stand-off was broken when Steve Bruce walked out on Sheffield Wednesday to help force the issue, not something new for Bruce who in his managerial career has forced a move away from previous clubs.

The end result was that out of the blue Steve Bruce was given a very surprising route back into the Premier League having not having managed in the top tier since 2014/15 when relegated with Hull. He became Newcastle United Head Coach (not manager) and Sheffield Wednesday received a reported £4m compensation from Mike Ashley (Newcastle United).

Newcastle United fans simply left bemused, the very first time in over a decade of ownership, Mike Ashley appointing somebody who had already been in a job and paying £4m compensation AND that person being Steve Bruce!

You couldn’t make it up. This was Mike Ashley who had got the likes of Kevin Keegan, Chris Hughton and Rafa Benitez on ‘frees’, yet forced all three out, yet here he was paying £4m for a Championship manager (head coach now) that no other Premier League club would even have put on a long list, never mind short list.

However, we need to look at the context leading up to the Steve Bruce appointment.

Mike Ashley running Newcastle United in such a disgraceful and unambitious way, nobody else was prepared to come and work for him.

It was actually his (Ashley’s) mates at Sky Sports who revealed that five different managers had turned Mike Ashley down after he’d forced out Rafa Benitez.

The Mag –  11 July 2019:

‘Sky Sports have reported that they understand Steve Bruce will be named as the new Newcastle United Manager before the weekend.

Reports earlier today said discussions had taken place between Sheffield Wednesday and Newcastle United regarding the level of compensation to be paid.

This followed a meeting Lee Charnley had with Steve Bruce in Manchester on Wednesday to discus personal terms and the job itself.

Sam Allardyce confirmed this (Thursday) morning that he had been offered the job.

However, Sky Sports say that he and Steve Bruce are only the fifth and sixth candidates to be approached to take the NUFC post.

Keith Downie covers Newcastle United for Sky Sports and he says that the first four to be approached to take the job were Steven Gerrard, Patrick Vieira, Roberto Martinez and Mikel Arteta.

However, along with Allardyce, they all knocked back the chance of working for Mike Ashley, it being a case of ‘sixth time lucky’ with Steve Bruce.

Eventually finding somebody desperate enough to take the job under Ashley’s restrictive conditions.’

So what happened to the five who turned down Mike Ashley back in summer 2019?

Sam Allardyce

Sam Allardyce revealing on Talksport on Thursday 11 July 2019:

“As much as I respect Newcastle, Newcastle fans and Mike it wasn’t for me.

“I politely said no and moved on.

“That thing in my mind – never go back.

“If it was the first time around then maybe I would have jumped at it but not now.

“I appreciated the offer but I was surprised.”

Moving forward to the present day and Sam Allardyce continues to annoy Newcastle fans with his appearances in the media, as he awaits the phone call from Real Madrid or Barcelona for his services…

Patrick Vieira

Patrick Vieira was asked by French media on 1 July 2019 whether he was going to take the Newcastle job, in reply he stated:

“I am at OGC Nice long-term.  I have no intention of going elsewhere. I have always felt good here and with the people around me. I can’t see myself anywhere other than OGC Nice.”

Newcastle United of course did take somebody from Nice in summer 2019 but it was Allan Saint-Maximin and not Patrick Vieira.

Moving forward to this month and whilst Patrick Vieira declared he couldn’t see himself anywhere but Nice, 17 months later the club decided otherwise. Ten days ago, on 4 December 2020, Nice announced the sacking of Patrick Vieira after a run of five losses in a row and elimination from the group stage of the Europa League.

Mikel Arteta

On 16 February 2020, Mikel Arteta confirmed that he had indeed turned down Mike Ashley, ending up with the Arsenal job instead when it became vacant in December 2019:

“I was considering a situation at Newcastle United (in the summer) that could change my professional and personal life.

“I had to put everything on the table to make that decision.

“I made the decision to stay where I was (at Manchester City) at the time.

“I believe that Newcastle are happy.

“What Steve (Bruce) has brought to the club has been really, really good.

“The performances and results, compared to where they were last year, they are above any expectation.

“He has put together a team with great spirit and is a manager with massive, massive experience.”

It is now fully four months since Mikel Arteta won Arsenal fans a trophy and they (Arsenal fans) are not happy.

A 1-0 home defeat to Burnley on Sunday means that Arsenal are now 15th in the Premier League and their manager under extreme pressure.

Ironically, it could be Steve Bruce and Newcastle United who could play a major part in deciding Arteta’s future.

If he lasts that long, Arteta and Arsenal face Newcastle in the FA Cup on Saturday 9 January 2021, then a week later are at home to NUFC in the Premier League…

Roberto Martinez

The former Swansea, Wigan and Everton manager got the Belgium job on 3 August 2016 and has since then guided them to third in the 2018 World Cup and currently they are the top ranked country / team in the World.

Currently preparing for the 2020 Euros (still called that but taking place in summer 2021) and qualification for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Steven Gerrard

After working with younger age groups at Liverpool, Steven Gerrard was offered the job at Rangers.

Officially appointed on 1 June 2018 as Rangers manager, signing a four year contract.

It was claimed he turned Mike Ashley down for two reasons, well three, in summer 2019.

Ashley’s treatment of Rafa Benitez and the way he runs Newcastle United in general. Plus wanting to finish the job off at Rangers, before potentially moving on.

Well after finishing nine points behind Celtic in 2018/19, that gap became thirteen points last season (2019/20).

This time though it appears that Steven Gerrard may finally be able to deliver Rangers out of the wilderness, they are 13 points clear currently though Celtic do have two games in hand. Plus doing well in the Europa League.

So looking back at these five who turned Newcastle United down and ignoring the fact that we are stuck with Steve Bruce, when you look back at what might have been, how do you feel about them?

For me, easiest thing of all is to put a big line through Fat Sam. We have already seen first hand how horrific having him as manager is, most definitely don’t want second helpings of that.

Patrick Vieira, a great player but hasn’t shown anything special in France.

With Mikel Arteta it is shocking how the media can turn against somebody who they were all over only four or five months ago. A foreign manager always seems to get far less leeway with our newspapers / journalists, as they far prefer the cosy long-term relationships they have with the likes of Allardyce, McClaren, Bruce, Pardew etc.

The Arsenal fans are predictably embarrassing themselves as they react to losing a few games, having won the FA Cup as recently as August 2020! I think Arteta looks to have all the attributes for potential success and looks simply the latest manager to be let down by flaky players in the Arsenal set-up.

Roberto Martinez ended up managing a national side after his sacking at Everton. With the riches he has managing Belgium, difficult to lose many games with that talent available.

Always an unknown when managers step back into club management from jobs with a national side. I have a feeling Martinez would be more Steve McClaren than Sir Bobby Robson.

I have to say I was sceptical about Steven Gerrard as a manager but fair play to him.

I have no interest in Scottish football but he looks to have handled all the pressure in Glasgow and from afar, appears to have ability as a manager. He seems to have improved the players that were already at Rangers and improved the team / squad with signings, despite not having a lot of money to spend.

I know it is a very low standard over the border but Steven Gerrard looks set to achieve and tick the box of having been the manager to get Rangers back into a position where they can win the two horse race. The form in the Europa League a decent bonus.

To be honest, if it was a choice of Steve Bruce or any of these five, it would still only be Sam Allardyce I wouldn’t have. In fact I can’t separate the pair of them, I see Bruce and him as all too similar.

Patrick Vieira would be an unknown but certainly preferable and worth a punt compared to what we experience under Brucey.

Martinez finished fifth in the Premier League with Everton and won the FA Cup with Wigan, beating Man City in the final. Seen as Bruce has never won anything as a manager and has never even finished top eight in the Premier League, only a fool would be preferring the current NUFC Head Coach.

Mikel Arteta has already won a trophy in his first year at Arsenal and they won all six of their Europa League group games. Obviously issues at the club as is the norm, the behaviour of their fans always an issue that make the manager’s job very difficult. Best seen when they forced Arsene Wenger out after everything he had given them, quite incredible.

I think Arteta still has every chance of coming good and becoming a long-term success at Arsenal, or elsewhere.

As for Steven Gerrard, he does look a rising star and appears to be handling the situation well.

It looks a near certainty he will get his chance sooner or later in the Premier League, interesting to see where he ends up.

In my daydreaming escapism away from the horrors of watching the current football at Newcastle United, I still think Pochettino would be the perfect appointment if a takeover ever happens.

However, I would equally say that Rafa Benitez has all the credentials to be able to rebuild Newcastle United and repair the damage of 14 years of Mike Ashley, if having the backing of new ambitious owners, turning everything around from the Academy upwards.

I do also think that with a takeover, what would also be an intriguing proposition if both up for it, would be Rafa Benitez as Director of Football and Steven Gerrard as manager.

It will be a massive job to sort Newcastle United out if we did get rid of Mike Ashley, so maybe Rafa working on the grand plan as well as having input into Gerrard getting the first team squad competitive.

Summer 2019 was a disaster for Newcastle United and we can only imagine where we would be now if the takeover had happened and Rafa remained in position.

Working for Mike Ashley we can only wonder how any of those five who turned him down would have coped.

Instead of any of that Newcastle fans got the booby prize.

I’m not sure how much more I can put up with this dream team of Mike Ashley and Steve Bruce.

Even Newcastle United supporters have their breaking point.

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