North East managers can do without all this criticism

IT is more than just the weather which has taken a turn for the worse in the North East recently.

IT is more than just the weather which has taken a turn for the worse in the North East recently. At St James’ Park and the Stadium of Light, the natives are getting restless.

This era of radio phone-ins and social media means the voices of disgruntled football fans are amplified as never before. The malcontents always seem quicker to express their views than those happy with their lot.

As both Newcastle United and Sunderland struggle, the rumblings against their managers are growing.

Twitter was awash with rumours, perhaps wishful thinking, of Martin O’Neill’s resignation on Saturday night. Twenty-four hours later, questions were being asked of Alan Pardew.

Those fans should be careful what they wish for.

Results may not back it up right now, but this region is fortunate to call itself home to two of the best managers in the Premier League, as both demonstrated – again – last season.

Neither is immune from criticism. Pardew has perhaps tinkered too much tactically this season, exacerbating the difficulties the Europa League has created in trying to find a settled formula.

O’Neill’s team has been too negative – whether under instruction or because he has failed to imbue them with the confidence he did on arrival at Sunderland.

Both have failed to convince those holding the purse strings of the need for greater investment and are low on options to change things as a result.

However, t all but the very youngest agitants should be able to cast their minds back far enough to see what can happen when a good manager is shown the door prematurely.

Sir Bobby Robson’s classless sacking in 2004 set Newcastle into a decline ending in relegation less than five years later.

Peter Reid was shown the door by Sunderland in 2002. They have finally stabilised in recent seasons but are yet to return to the heights he took them to.

The statue of Sir Alex Ferguson unveiled at Old Trafford on Friday was a monument not only to him but patience.

Managers should not be handed 26-year contracts in the assumption they can replicate Ferguson’s feats. The time comes for change, with some sooner than others, but both Pardew and O’Neill have earned time to turn their teams around. How effectively they use it is another matter.


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