Posts Tagged ‘manager’

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.



The FA Get Something Right


Just a quick thought on Capello remaining England manager for the next two years. For once the FA have made the right decision and gone for a bit of long term thinking instead of just following what the media tell them.

While Capello must hold some of the blame for England’s World Cup exit (mistakes with his squad picks, tactical stubbornness), it’s good to see the hyperbole surrounding the so called golden generation of England players has been put to rest. It was telling that despite the technical limitations of the England squad being there for all to see, first port of call was to blame it on the foreign manager.

Fabio Capello

Not his fault, well a little bit but not as much as the players.

Some of the suggestions of who could replace Capello were ridiculous, and perhaps that’s partly why he’s kept the job – the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. First off the idea that David Beckham could be the next to have a go. Really? A man with no managerial experience whatsoever and someone who last time I checked was still playing.

Just because it worked for Germany with Klinsmann and is kind of working for Argentina with Maradona doesn’t make it right. I have a lot of time for Becks but thankfully this idea was soon dismissed.

Next up we had the genius suggestion by Mark Bright of giving Glenn Hoddle another chance. Glenn Hoddle?! Ok, he was half decent 12 years ago as England manager but that doesn’t make him right in 2010. This is a man who had been completely out of the game since 2006 and last managed a top flight club in 2003. Next thing I know, someone will be suggesting his Sky colleague Jamie Redknapp!

Just stop, it's getting embarrassing now.

Sam Allardyce ensured his media mates put him forward. He needs to realise it’s never going to happen. His thuggish, unattractive style of football will never win any major tournament. Harry Redknapp can do likewise but whilst he has the style of football which appeals, the fact that his business dealings are even dodgier than El Tel Venables’ says all it needs to.

A few other names were floating about with the best option Roy Hodgson wisely deciding that the Liverpool job was far more appealing. As the week went on, everyone began to come to their senses and started disecting the overblown reputations of the players instead. Who’s have thought the likes of the Neviller and Roy Keane would be calling it right?

Overrated as a player, overrated as a human being.

So, partly due to the massive contract the FA tied themselves down with, and partly due to the realisation that John Terry et al are not nearly as good as everyone thinks they are, Capello hangs around till 2012. Credit to the FA for realising that for once it wasn’t entirely the manager’s fault. Here’s hoping that he now fulfils his promise of bringing a fresh approach.


Shearer to Manage Newcastle


Until the end of the season. All I can say is ‘finally!’


It's time

It's time.

I’m amazed he’s taken it now as so often he’s gone on about how it’s not the right time for him to take over. So much so that we wrote a blog post/rant about it back in early December. I guess with Kinnear not being able to come back it was essentially now or never. If he rejected the chance to takeover for a umpteenth time (going by number of managers at St James Park since he retired) he would never have taken it.

As irritating as I find him, I’ll give him credit for accepting it at a time when Newcastle are a mess (no change then) and firmly routed in the bottom three. It will take a great deal of motivational power to get them out of trouble but if anyone can make the Geordies feel good again it’s him. That said, if he keeps them up he basically has a job for as long as he wants. Surely the expectations at St James Park must be so low now, hence there would no real pressure next season.

The final eight Newcastle games this season (Chelsea, Stoke, Spurs, Portsmouth, Liverpool, Boro, Fulham, Aston Villa) will be very interesting. What price victory over Hiddink in his first game?



Old Maradona To Manage New Maradonas

The original, and the best.

The original, and the best.

Interesting news today from Argentina where it seems that Diego Maradona, the greatest player of all time (yes, he was better than Pele), looks set become the manager of the national team. After their disappointing showing at the last World Cup Jose Pekerman resigned and was replaced by Alfio Basile. He too hasn’t lived up to expectations, firstly failing to win the 2007 Copa America after being destroyed in the final by Brazil, and more recently struggling in Argetina’s qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup. They currently lie 3rd, having already lost away to Colombia and then Chile a couple of weeks ago. Whilst they should be ok as the top four qualify automatically, changes were obviously needed.

Maradona is an interesting choice. Though he has virtually no coaching experience his opinion is still held in high regard across Argentina. At the last World Cup, Jurgen Klinsmann showed you don’t need to have 20 years of experience under your belt to succeed in international (or indeed club) management. Also, who better to motivate this generation of Argentinian players, many who grew up wanting to be Maradona. 

This leads me to the side point of how many Argentinian players are routinely labelled as “the new Maradona”. Any modicum of attacking talent (and lack of height) instantly leads a nation’s hopes to be pinned on their shoulders. I guess the lack of international success since his retirement (a couple of Copa America finals aside) makes that inevitable. The question is always who can lead them back to the glory of 1986? Lionel Messi appears to be the one who finally succeed where so many have failed before him but like New Zealand in Rugby, Argentina always flatter to deceive when it matters most.

So, just for fun here is a team of new Maradonas who are all still playing and thus could be selected by the orginal in his new regime. We’ve gone for a rather attacking 1-1-3-1-4 formation…


Maradona's New Maradona XI

Maradona's New Maradona XI



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