Regrets? Fans have too few to mention

NEWCASTLE fans last night spoke of their shock at the timing of Sam Allardyce’s departure, but all had confidence that owner Mike Ashley and chairman Chris Mort would have a top replacement lined up.

NEWCASTLE fans last night spoke of their shock at the timing of Sam Allardyce’s departure, but all had confidence that owner Mike Ashley and chairman Chris Mort would have a top replacement lined up.

Two names dominated their speculation: former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho and Newcastle legend Alan Shearer.

The club’s honorary vice-president, Malcolm Dix, said he had seen Mr Mort and Allardyce at Tuesday’s reserve team defeat to Sunderland, accompanied by Sir Bobby Robson, who was Mourinho’s mentor at Barcelona, Porto and Sporting Lisbon.

Mr Dix said yesterday: “We were talking about a variety of different things and they were all very amicable. It would be interesting to know if they’ve got anybody lined up. There’s been rumours flying around about Mourinho and something might have occurred in that area that precipitated the decision.”

Editor of Newcastle fanzine The Mag, Mark Jensen, said: “I’m 100% confident that the people running the club will have done it because it’s the right time. They haven’t panicked. I’m sure they must have someone else in mind.

“He wasn’t their initial choice. It hasn’t been a disastrous season but it’s been nothing like anybody would have hoped for, and the quality of the football hasn’t been great.

“Managers who don’t win matches and don’t provide entertaining football are always going to be under pressure. The club was in a mess when he took over as manager, but he hasn’t made a very good job of it. Alan Shearer isn’t going to be far from the headlines and Mourinho would be a dream for a lot of fans.

“We want someone either with proven experience and a successful track record. Or Alan Shearer would tick all the boxes apart from that successful track record as a manager.”

Frank Gilmour, of the Newcastle United Independent Supporters Association, said: “I was expecting it after the Stoke game. Allardyce hasn’t excited me, but I said he was the wrong man when he got the job.

“I haven’t enjoyed a single football match this season and I never said that under previous managers. I won’t miss him.

“The talk is Alan Shearer amongst the fans. I’d love to see him but I don’t think it’s the right time. He looks happy working for the BBC, you wonder why he would take the job. But if he did the fans would love it.

“I think Gerard Houllier would do a fantastic job. He’s been a success at every club he’s been to.

“This time I just hope they make the right decision. Mourinho’s another one who has done it and he’s a proven winner. Whether he would come I don’t know, but Jose knows what our fans think about their football.”

Steve Wraith, editor of fanzine Players Inc, former fans liaison officer at St James’s Park, said: “I wouldn’t say it was the right decision. I’ve backed Sam from his appointment and I still say that six months and 24 games isn’t enough time for a manager.

“We’ve got a new regime at the club and I would think Sam was on a hiding to nothing, being Freddie Shepherd’s appointment. Maybe Mike Ashley and Chris Mort have had somebody in mind from the start. Only time will tell.

“We’re certainly very stable as a club upstairs. We just need to find that winning combination in the dressing room – someone who can cope with the pressure, knows what the fans think and gets results on the pitch.”

The following statement was released by Newcastle United last night: Newcastle United has today parted company with Sam Allardyce as its manager with immediate effect. This decision has been reached by mutual agreement. Newcastle United chairman Chris Mort said: “Mike and I would like to place on record our thanks for Sam’s efforts and wish him well for the future. A new manager has not yet been appointed at Newcastle United. We will make a further announcement on the managerial position when appropriate.” Sam Allardyce said: “I am disappointed to be leaving Newcastle United but I wish the club all the best for the remainder of the season and for the future.” First Team coach Nigel Pearson will take charge of the team for Saturday’s game at Manchester United.

Read more on page 2

Why total sack bill could soar to £20m

THE financial case for the sacking of Sam Allardyce was clear from the empty seats at St James’s Park in recent weeks.

In a stadium which until recent times rarely played host to anything but a capacity crowd, the attendance for the game against Birmingham City on Saturday, December 8 dropped below 50,000.

Several games recently have seen thousands of fans leaving early, disgusted by the team’s limp displays.

And chairman Mike Ashley, a billionaire sportswear mogul, will also have been keeping a close eye on sales in the club’s shops.

Vinay Bedi, director of stockbrokers Brewin Dolphin in Newcastle and an expert on football finance, said: “My feeling for some time has been that the negative reaction from the supporters was eventually going to lead to this decision being made.

“Because one thing Newcastle have enjoyed consistently for many, many decades has been an extremely loyal supporter base.

“If that was starting to turn, the whole club was going to have problems.

“I suspect Ashley and Mort have made the decision to maintain the level of loyalty from the supporters, as losing that could have caused serious financial discomfort. As well as other factors, I suspect there’s an awful lot of that in it.”

Professor Tom Cannon, dean of Buckingham Business School, has studied Premier League finances in detail.

He said: “This will be a very expensive departure. Sam Allardyce had a three-year contract, and the total cost of him going will be between £10m and £20m as it is not just the manager – he has built a big team around him with nutritionists, pyschologists, etc. You would assume they won’t be hanging around.

“Mike Ashley is not there as a charitable pursuit. You have to assume he has someone credible lined up to replace Allardyce. It would be a very bizarre decision if they did not.”

Prof Cannon said an element of the problem was the mentality of Newcastle United. He said: “Part of the problem is Newcastle think they are a top four side when actually they are a mid table club.”

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The reaction

Russell Herdman, 34, of Birtley, Gateshead, said: “He was Shepherd’s man and that got him in the end. It seems really bad timing with the FA cup replay coming up.”

Andrew Barker, 28, of Jarrow, South Tyneside, said: “Keegan and Shearer together would be quite good but maybe it is too early for Shearer. Martin Jol is available he is an option. But it seems a strange time to sack somebody.”

Roy Anderson, 54 of Washington, Tyne and Wear, said: “Fans have been spoilt by the Kevin Keegan era. I would like to see a foreigner come in now. Someone like Otmar Hitzveld at Bayern Munich would be good.”

Steven Fawcitt, 21, of Morpeth, Northumberland, said: “I think the timing is really bad. It makes you think that something must have gone on behind the scenes for him to be sacked now. The new manager, whoever he is, won’t have much time to bring new players in as the transfer window only has a couple of weeks left.”

Chris Pearson, 22 of Chester-le-Street, County Durham, said: “We started off quite well but the football was never very good.”

Chris Bull, 28, a barman in the Adelphi pub, in Newcastle city centre, said: “How long can we keep sacking people and not giving them time?”

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Fans log on to Journal website

THERE was no mass migration to St James’s Park yesterday, no hundreds of fans flocking to the ground to greet the breaking news.

But then this was the departure of an underwhelming manager, not the arrival of a messiah.

In the minutes after the shock decision was announced a handful of angry fans congregated at the stadium to vent their frustration at the latest dismissal.

Supporters were outnumbered by members of the media as the fans turned to the internet to react.

Members of the Toon Army went online to give their thoughts, and logged on in their droves our website forum

Some of the comments posted in the minutes after the decision were:

Dub Toon: “Start with appointing a world class manager who’s won major honours, clear out the back room staff (Terry Mac, Pearson, etc), get a decent assistant manager, clear out the players who are simply not good enough (and we have plenty) and get some quality signings. Can’t wait! Dreaming now, but Mourinho or Lippi with Shearer as #2 – how good would that be!!!!”

Peter Ward wrote: “A lot of fans have got their wish so where do we go from here? It will be a fascinating, if perilous, journey from here on in and I’m sure a change of manager will not bring a transformation overnight. What will happen now?”

And Haych wrote: “Very surprising especially after all the backing he’s had publicly, just hope the right appointment will shut everyone up! ”


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer