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Opinion

‘The ideal manager for Mike Ashley to turn to, after belatedly sacking Steve Bruce’

11 months ago
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Many questions arise with Newcastle United these days, such as…

Is Mike Ashley serious about selling the club?

Is there a credible buyer?

Is the Premier League fit and proper in their integrity with regards to vetting any potential bids for clubs?

Is Steve Bruce the right man for the job as Newcastle United Head Coach?

Is the current squad good enough and what for?

(My opinion on the above, if you are interested, is Yes, Yes, No, No, Yes (for upper mid table))

Many of these questions are easily answered but much like the current COVID pandemic, a clear roadmap out of the predicament is much needed and most necessary.

What isn’t in doubt is that this club is in a right mess and lurching towards a crisis. No matter which way you look at it, surviving relegation is on a knife edge and even with Bruce remaining in charge, I firmly believe that survival can be achieved with as little as 10 more points between now and the end of the season. Even with my low opinion of Steve Bruce, I believe he can manage that.

Trouble is, surely Mike Ashley needs to give his asset it’s best chance of making that supposed £350m asking price, as relegation is not an option for either fans or owner. If Newcastle go down, that value would drop at least £100m, maybe double that. Would Ashley then sell? Doubtful. He would surely bank on history re-repeating itself and getting back into the Premier League with the club’s full value being restored. Good luck with that a third time and good luck with that if Steve Bruce remains.

I don’t want to speak for the whole of the fanbase but I think it’s fair to say a vast majority want to see the back of this manager. A healthy proportion didn’t want him in the first place, something bizarrely acknowledged by Bruce himself in his rant this week. Even more staggering that he took the job when he all but knew he wasn’t wanted.

So my route out of the crisis?

Well the first thing is to assume that Mike Ashley is finally wanting to sell. I believe that (this time) he indeed is a willing seller but that unearths more problems in the sense that we have to contend with Richard Masters and the FA. I’m not going to go into that but let’s just accept that we need a transitional period between this current regime, current manager and the future.

For this we need to get rid of Steve Bruce, his comments, his tactics (or lack of) his team selections and motivational skills are not of the standard required to take a club onwards in the modern game, as seen in the current evidence in front of our very eyes. I was pessimistic before he was appointed and if anything, my opinion has got worse.

The next obvious question is who is next in the hot seat and this is where you have to bear with me. I’ve often thought that I would like Claudio Ranieri (still do) but I think we have to think a little further ahead and with that I have a little contradiction. We actually need a stop gap, a transitionary manager, someone to get us successfully through to the next manager.

I always thought the ideal person to do that was Rafa Benitez. Not the greatest football to watch but would improve the club at all levels and then hand it over in a few years to a new and up and coming revolutionary to take the club on. Despite the well worn argument, that ship has probably sailed, although I still think that if a takeover had legs, if I were Ashley I’d go cap in hand to Benitez and give him the role on his terms until the club is sold. Like I’ve said, that ship has set sail and we’ve missed a golden chance of progression.

There is still a chance for Ashley to protect his asset, to make top dollar for Newcastle United and himself and sail off into the sunset and leave us be. It would take a leap, a bit of thought and some negotiation, but there could be a solution to this mess that would suit all concerned. How’s your negotiating skills Lee Charnley? I hear laughing.

By now, I bet you’re all waiting on a name. Well it’s not long in coming. The first thing is to dispense with Bruce, thanks but no thanks, it has failed miserably and the whole revelation that the remit of Steve was to simply stay in the league is quite frankly shocking. No professional outfit would admit that and Bruce’s rant the other day about his lack of ability was just as embarrassing.

With the current incompetence gone, there are a few problems. We would firstly need a manager on a short-term basis. Keeping in mind Ashley’s tightness with money, he would also have to be without a club but still possess experience and knowledge of the worldwide game, a guarantee of an instant impact and a desire to pinpoint his own successor would be a major advantage, possibly with a view to moving “upstairs” in a year or two as Director of Football in the event of any takeover.

There will be no quick fix at this club, it has been ran into the ground though 13 years of shambolic management, deliberate sabotage, self-inflicted embarrassment and stagnation that has set us back 25 years with regards to actually being a professional football club. It may say we are a club in the Premier League but professional we are not.

If I were Mike Ashley, I’d be sending all my immediate financial clout and whatever persuasive powers I could muster, across to France and beg the former manager of tonight’s opponents Arsenal, Arsene Wenger, to come across the channel and see this club through the next few years.

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