Newcastle United - A Club At A Crossroads?

Newcastle United - A Club At A Crossroads?

Under Mike Ashley, Newcastle have been stagnating and the under par working conditions for a manager or, as the next appointment will be, head coach make it difficult for the club to achieve success. Many will have raised their eyebrows at Alan Pardew’s decision to leave Newcastle for relegation threatened Crystal Palace, but those with a working knowledge of Ashley and his current regime wouldn’t have been surprised at all. It would make an interesting sub plot if Pardew leads Palace to a higher league finish than Newcastle and it’s a genuine possibility as the South London team are now only one place below his former side. Newcastle are at a crossroads and the next couple of weeks will tell us a lot about Ashley’s future plans.

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The owner is embroiled deeply in the situation at Rangers and he has certainly taken his eye off the ball at Newcastle. The English side desperately need a new head coach and a couple of new players this month, and it looks unlikely that the latter will be incoming. It appears they are making progress on the former, however the situation has been ongoing for almost three weeks and that is poor for a Premier League club. The lack of direction from the owner has left Lee Charnley and Graham Carr in control of the search for a new head coach, with neither having experience in such an appointment. It shows.

The departure of Alan Pardew gave the club a real opportunity to make a statement with their next appointment getting the fans firmly back onside and giving the club momentum going forward. However the lack of an appointment after almost three weeks left St James’ Park lifeless at the weekend, with the fans expecting very little from their team going forward for the rest of the season. There have been names such as Remi Garde, Frank de Boer, Steve McClaren, Thomas Tuchel and Christophe Galtier being linked with the post, but there seems a hesitancy from all those linked to take the job on now, given there is little to gain from the rest of the season.

On the pitch, Newcastle have been poor since the departure of Alan Pardew. They should have beaten Burnley on New Years Day, but a turgid second half display allowed the away side to dominate. Newcastle once again limped out of the FA Cup resting a number of big names, despite having little to play for in the league, and this was followed by back to back league defeats against Chelsea and Southampton. The futures of Moussa Sissoko and Papiss Cisse remain uncertain, it would be unsurprising to see one or both leave before the end of the month. John Carver is passionate about the club and keen to land the head coach job, but he has looked out of his depth and the results reflect that. The club needs a new perspective on the training ground and Carver is too linked to the Pardew regime.

Ashley may be laying the foundations to sell the club by purchasing Rangers, with the potential Champions League revenue and what the exposure of being in the competition would mean for his Sports Direct brand. However he needs to make Newcastle an attractive proposition to a potential buyer and they aren’t at the moment. He has faced a lot of criticism, but Southampton have showed that the business model Newcastle have can have success with the right manager and by being more flexible when it comes to buying players. Remi Garde has experience in working under similar conditions at Lyon, while he managed to use the academy effectively, bringing a number of players into the first team pool. He could do a similar job at Newcastle, and that would certainly go a long way in reversing the current stagnation.

The next couple of weeks are huge for Newcastle, not just for the rest of the season, but for the long term future of the club. If they make the right appointment, the fans will get back on board and excitement will surround St James’ Park on a matchday. The right head coach could also make the club more marketable for a sale, if that is Ashley’s short term plan. However the wrong appointment will lead to the apathy growing on Tyneside and a relegation battle would be a real possibility.