Posts Tagged ‘championship’

The Trouble With… Mike Ashley


The news yesterday that Newcastle, or more specifically Mike Ashley, had sacked Chris Hughton was something of a shock to say the least. After leading them back to the Premier League with a 102 point Championship winning season, Hughton has overseen comfortable start to the season with Newcastle lying 11th with 19 points from 16 games.

You're better off without him Chris...

Ashley cited the need for someone with more managerial experience to take the club forward which is reasonable if Newcastle were struggling but not in the current circumstances.

It’s not as if Newcastle are marooned in the bottom three, they’ve been mid-table all season and had impressive league victories over Arsenal, Aston Villa and Sunderland amongst others. Chuck in a League Cup win away at Chelsea and you’ve got the basis of good start to the season.

Perhaps there was the feeling that the current run of one win in six was a sign of things to come, but if that was the case then surely Chelsea would be sacking Carlo Ancelotti right now, given he has the exact same record over that period. If  Ashley looked at the table he’d see Everton and Liverpool below his side too.

The whole reason Newcastle were regarded  as a joke club for so many years was that there was always something ridiculous going on. Whether it was poorly thought out signings, directors making inappropriate comments, or hiring Joe Kinnear as manager, you always felt glad your own club wasn’t as stupid.

Hughton brought some stability and more importantly some dignity back to Newcastle. Conducting his business with little fuss, and managing to pretty much unite one of the most divisive squads in recent memory, he was doing well in his first shot at full-time management. Ashley obviously felt otherwise.

Let's shake on it. It won't make a difference but it makes me look good.

Perhaps he felt this season offers an opportunity – it’s a tighter league than normal so a higher than expected finish is achievable.

Perhaps he looks at how well fellow promoted sides West Brom and Blackpool are doing and feels Newcastle should be doing better having last season finished 11 and 32 points ahead respectively.

Perhaps he still plans to sell the club sooner rather than later and wants a bigger manager to attract higher bids and better players. The thing about most of these options is that if anything Newcastle are punching above their weight at the moment.

Ashley may feel that they should resume their place at the higher echelons of the league but times have long since changed from the heady days of title challenges. The main reason is the lack of investment in the team. I know Ashley has spent £300million since buying the club (including the cost price) and he the right to do what he wants but much of this was wasted on poor players and a big fat payoff to big fat Sam Allardyce.

This summer they spent around £6million and that’s being generous as a third of that was just to loan Ben Arfa. Considering how small the squad was to begin with, to currently be 11th despite a poor run of form isn’t to be sniffed at. A promoted side should be looking at staying up first and foremost. Who knows what changing manager now will have.

Mr & Mrs Average

In fairness, despite the difficulty in doing so, judgement has to be reserved until the next manager is named. If Newcastle end up with say Martin O’Neill (unlikely) or Martin Jol (expensive but maybe) then you could argue that a good decision may have been made, however harsh it is on Hughton.

There isn’t really a good time to change managers and it may as well have been done pre January transfer window. The backlash will come if Newcastle end up with someone like Alan Curbishley or Alan Pardew. Are they truly better than Chris Hughton? Really? It would smack of hiring the proverbial safe pair of hands or in other words complete mediocrity.

Curbishley has a track record of uninspiring mid table finishes, the exception being 7th with Charlton in 2003/04. I lost track of the number of times his team would be in a good position come January before collapsing once reaching 40 points. I suppose Alan Pardew is a slightly better option but that’s like saying Andy Townsend is a slightly better pundit than Robbie Earle – both are completely meh.

I wonder who Jol would pick as his assistant?!

By keeping out of the limelight for a while, Mike Ashley’s reputation improved in recent months but he’s destroyed any goodwill he had with Newcastle fans. Even if he brings in someone really quiet good, I’m not sure he will regain it. In the eyes of most, he’s probably the one who should be leaving the club.


Weekly Photoshop – Blackpool in the Premier League


Blackpool are this week’s theme and already they’re proving to be a lot of fun during their brief stay in the Premier League, winning 4-0 and losing 6-0. Hard not to focus on Ian Holloway as no one else has established themselves yet. This makes no sense unless you’ve seen this interview. I look forward to further inspired post match analysis this season.


Blackpool Ian Holloway

Ian Holloway finds the standard of lady he gets in the taxi to be of a much higher standard now Blackpool are in the top flight.


More here.





Season Previews 2010/11 – Blackpool



Last Season: Playoff winners, Championship

New Signings: Keinan

Key Player: Charlie Adam

One To Watch: Charlie Adam

Needs A Big Year: Charlie Adam

Would Quite Like: To beat Derby’s 11 point total from 2007/08 coupled with a famous victory over someone.

tangerine men blackpool

Get used to seeing this colour at grounds across the country.

Prediction: 20th

Thoughts: As well as Ian Holloway has done to get the Tangerine Men up I fear it’s going to be along hard season for Blackpool. Yes, he’s a great motivator and certainly has the gift of the gab when it comes to describing his team’s performances but at the time of writing the Blackpool squad contains about 18 players. Whilst I’m sure this will increase before the transfer deadline with some loans and whatnot, the fact remains that very few players in the squad look like Premier League quality.

The likes of Jason Euell and Brett Ormerod have top flight experience but let’s be honest, there’s a good reason why they were in the Championship last year.

A lot appears to rest on Charlie Adam who fired in 16 goals from midfield last season having joined from Rangers. Blackpool will hope his ability from set pieces transfers onto a bigger stage. Perhaps the key thing will be to get too downhearted following inevitable heavy defeats and try and be as solid as possible at home and see what happens.

An unfortunate start/stadium not being ready in time sees four away games in the first five matches. Trips to the Emirates and Stamford Bridge in weeks two and five may well be brutal, especially if Holloway maintains his current desire to play attractive flowing football. It is this desire which will ultimately see Blackpool doomed; they’re not good enough to beat the top teams at their own game while the sides in the bottom half are too experienced and too brutal to be outplayed by a team with no Premier League games under their belt.

Derby’s record low points total has been mentioned and while I think Blackpool will eclipse that, it’s hard to predict anything other than rock bottom. Even so they’ll enjoy the ride.


Weekly Photoshop – Neil Warnock


Football’s second biggest mouth (after Jose Mourinho) and what seems like the 45th person to manage QPR this season. Yes, Neil Warnock is this week’s theme.


neil warnock qpr

Chatter chatter chatter. Just wind him up and watch him go on ... and on ... and on ...


Oh this got second place by the way. Huzzah! An Eric Cantona book will be winging its way to me. Might be quite good given it’s written by Philippe Auclair. The rest of the gallery is here.





Weekly Photoshop – Newcastle United Naming Rights


Quite  a funny topic this week, following the revelation that Newcastle United have sold the naming rights to St. James’ Park and for the rest of the season will be playing at the James’ Park stadium. Catchy isn’t it?!

I don’t especially have a problem with naming rights (how could I as an Arsenal supporter) but I think you should go either the whole way or not at all. Either call it the stadium or stick with St James’ Park. Don’t try and force it all into one joint effort. Can you imagine the Emirates@Ashburton Grove or Aon Insurance@Old Trafford. Doesn’t work does it. Typical Newcastle though, always doing things cack-handedly.

Anyway, in terms of this week’s entry, my lack of internet meant I had to do it in Paint and Word at work. I got the opportunity to redo it below but you can see the original rubbish version on the Guardian site, not that this one is that much better. Jack is Jackie Milburn, 2nd highest Newcastle goalscorer btw. James' Park

Put James' Park into an anagrammer and you get this. I would think that a very dyslexic signwriter might come up with something similar.


This week’s gallery can be found here.





Leyton Orient 6 – Newcastle 1


What’s the worst thing about being a Newcastle fan today?

  • Having Mike Ashley as your inept owner?
  • Being managerless with the first game of the season two weeks away?
  • Having a comedy bright yellow deckchair away kit?
  • No new signings this summer?
  • Just watching pretty much your full strength side get hammered 6-1 by League One Leyton Orient?
I like how 6-1 is only classed as disappointing!

I like how 6-1 is only classed as disappointing!

Tricky one isn’t it. Now I know you can’t read too much into pre-season friendlies as it’s as much about fitness and match practice as it is about results. That said it’s not a good sign when a team lining up as Krul, Beye, Enrique, Taylor, Coloccini, Barton, Duff, Nolan, Gutierrez, Smith and Martins gets dispatched so easily.

There was an article I read this morning about how Shearer still expects/wants to become manager but is being frustrated when the delayed takeover means targets such as Frazier Campbell, Chris Gunter and Ched Evans are signing for other clubs. I look at that team above and there is a real lack of pace, something which would definitely come in handy in the Championship.

I still expect Newcastle to push for promotion straight back up (probably) but it’s just quite funny when you get these kind of results.

Meanwhile the rest of the football world reacts to today’s news…

Wasn't my fault, I play for Wigan now.

Wasn't my fault, I play for Wigan now.

Shouldn't have got rid of me.

Shouldn't have got rid of me.

I'm just the guy with crazy hair.

I'm just the guy with crazy hair.

Screw them!

Screw them!

Steven Seagal is not impressed by this.

Steven Seagal is not part of the football world but is nonetheless not impressed by this. Steven Seagal only talks in the third person.





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