There is an interesting rumour doing the rounds in London football circles about the Tottenham job.
We have all seen Louis Van Gaal’s name connected with it, but a link with Carlo Ancelotti just won’t go away. It has been said to me by enough people who I trust to take it seriously – and what a statement of intent that would be by Spurs.
At Manchester United, David Moyes is reportedly on the verge of the sack for failing in that job. The board apparently won’t accept failure this year. The same Manchester United, by the way, who beat Newcastle 4-0 just two weeks ago.
Meanwhile, at Newcastle, five defeats on the spin goes almost unnoticed. The club’s end to the season is disastrous but Alan Pardew limps on. Tim Sherwood can’t open a paper without a new manager being linked with the job, but at Newcastle there’s nothing.
That sums it up for me. Newcastle is a job that would perfectly suit someone like Frank de Boer, Dennis Bergkamp or even Frank Rijkaard – in short a big name who could generate huge enthusiasm and interest and would play attacking football with the wingers that Newcastle fans like.
It is a huge job that would interest many managers in Europe. It is a job with real profile and potential for someone who can impose their football philosophy on the club.
The way the club is at the moment, they wouldn’t target someone like that, and that is what is wrong at Newcastle.
They think like a club much smaller than they are. The attitude at the top is that ninth or 10th is okay and that is why they aren’t looking to change things and bring in a world-class manager with a reputation to match.
Let’s be honest, if Mike Ashley cared, he would have sacked Alan Pardew by now. In fact, he would never have appointed Alan in the first place. I have been critical of the manager in recent weeks and Saturday was another massive blow for him. Every week that goes by when his team don’t perform for him is another sign that he is running out of time. With all the rumblings about Hatem Ben Arfa and dressing-room bust-ups it feels like he has lost some of the players now.
And the excuses he is coming up with beggar belief. When he said that he could have stopped Swansea’s goal if he’d been on the touchline I couldn’t believe it. I just thought, ‘Whose fault is that Alan?’
But for all that Alan is responsible for this run of defeats, the problems go right to the top. What Ashley has done to Newcastle is awful to watch. He has turned one of the biggest in Europe – with a stadium and fan-base with the potential to break into the elite in England – into a club that aims for mediocrity. This summer is the time for him to sell up.
I know how much that club means to the city. It is almost unique. I was an apprentice fork-lift truck driver who stood on the terraces at St James’ Park so I know that for many fans it is more important than it is for fans of clubs where I live now in London. The match is the big part of the weekend for most fans, but at the moment they must approach it with dread or complete disinterest.
I think back to Sir John Hall, the last owner who truly ‘got it’. He is the last person associated with Newcastle who I believe loved the club.
He was an intelligent man, someone who I admired for what he did there. Everyone since him has been a pretender.
Ashley’s approach to Newcastle is what has got the club into this situation. The fact of the matter is that he tries to do things on the cheap and he doesn’t care about the club.
He brought a manager in on the cheap and that’s why he won’t change it now because that is how he runs it. Alan won’t criticise the owner in public or ask for anything so he is the perfect candidate for the club.
Look at what Ashley has done this year: he sold the club’s best player in a season where Newcastle had an opportunity to really kick on. He has appointed Joe Kinnear.
He didn’t spend anything on players in either the summer or the winter. It is just not good enough for a club of Newcastle’s size.
I was with Steve Clarke on Saturday and he is away from the game at the moment but he was at Newcastle on the coaching staff. People in the football world know what a big club it is but it isn’t acting like that under Ashley. Changing managers seems like one solution, but to truly fulfil its potential the club needs new direction from the top.
It needs someone who cares and is prepared to have a go again. It feels to me like the only solution is that Ashley puts it up for sale and starts looking for a new owner who can get Newcastle fans excited again.