Newcastle, for a while now, have been a rudderless ship. For almost the entirety of Mike Ashley’s ownership the North East club have looked destined to occupy a mundane existence floating in the middle sections of the Premier League, while competing in the cup competitions with the same level of enthusiasm a 7-year-old shows towards the last isolated island of vegetables on their dinner plate.
A near relegation during the tenure of the self-confessed “best coach in the league”, John Carver, made Ashley see the error of his penny-pinching ways and has gone about his business in a more concerted manor, investing around £75million across the two transfer windows is testament to this. However, things have not improved, in fact they have regressed to the point that they look as though only other team’s ineptitude will save them from a demotion into the Championship.
Current manager Steve McClaren has overseen a season, thus far, that has been nothing short of abysmal. Previous incumbent Alan Pardew succeeded, to a certain degree, despite always being seen as the poster boy of Ashley’s despised regime. While McClaren is far from universally adored and will probably always be known as the “Wally in the brolly”, he has been treated with a far greater level of respect than Pardew. However, the former England gaffer has been unable to use these positives and make Newcastle the force that they undoubtedly could become.
It must gall the Magpies’ fans to see a club much smaller in relation to their own, in Leicester, rise to such exalted heights, while they languish in the bottom three. It has been touted that if Steve McClaren fails to turn his season around, in the next two games, then Mike Ashley will go down the same avenue as fellow strugglers as Aston Villa, Sunderland and Swansea and make a managerial change mid-season.
I am not a big fan of the whole “X number of games to save your job” strategy. McClaren could very well win the next two games, but even if he did that would not prove that he is a man capable of sustained success. While there is no doubt in terms of his coaching ability, it is evident (in my opinion at least) he lacks the mental fortitude to succeed as a manger and make the types of high pressure decisions that makes or breaks a season.
His time at St James’ Park has seen him look as though he is wracked with insecurities. While his relegation rivals; Sam Allardyce, Eddie Howe and even newbie, Alex Neil looked assured of their respective processes, the Newcastle manager shuffles and wrings his hands together seemingly waiting for his P45.
Of course the trend to fire managers after such a small amount of time in the role is one that no one likes to see, there is clearly suitable evidence that a change is necessary. Currently Newcastle are going down, but a change of gaffer and the infamous “new manager bounce” that follows could keep the club in the division. It is a strategy that Sunderland have benefitted from in the last few years, while Swansea’s decision to hire Francesco Guidolin has given the Welsh club a new lease of life.
I think that despite having his CV blotted in the last couple of years, David Moyes is still a manager of immense talent and could be the man to provide the stability for Newcastle to survive.