Can Newcastle learn from past mistakes

By Lee Ryder on May 28, 08 08:33 AM

Hindsight, is a wonderful thing in football but in a week when former Newcastle United coach John Carver admitted he predicted the slippery slope endured by Toon fans in the four years since Sir Bobby Robson left the club, there can be no greater time for the current regime at St James's Park to learn from mistakes made in the past.

During his time at Barcelona, Sir Bobby had been told he wouldn't be the manager of the Nou Camp club for the 1997/98 season.

Back then Louis van Gaal moved into the dugout and Sir Bobby moved upstairs (a role he later described as the best paid scout in Europe) but sacking the former England manager never crossed anybody's mind at Barca.

Why on the earth did Newcastle not do something similar?

OK, the team was looking a little jaded in his final full season in 2003/04 - but they did finish FIFTH.

At that time surely using Robson's experience to pick a new manager to work alongside the coaching staff already familiar with the playing staff might have been a better idea.

Instead the Toon board moaned amongst themselves and then fired Robson in August the next year, remember the ludicrous annual sacking (Ruud Gullit, Kenny Dalglish as well) of a United boss when most people were still sporting a sun tan?

No wonder this club has suffered.

We talk about continuity but Sam Allardyce did go the journey in January didn't he?

That said, this wasn't Mike Ashley's idea and it was pretty obvious to anybody that Big Sam's long ball and ProZone fascination was taking Newcastle to one place and one place only - the Championship.

Now though with Kevin Keegan back at the helm and still hopefully here to complete unfinished business, perhaps we will see KK at least be allowed to see out his contract.

This week on Blog on The Tyne we've already heard fans talk about expectations, and a steady rise up the league is what people are expecting plus maybe a good go in the cups.

The structure of the club is certainly different these days and not many would have predicted Dennis Wise as the director of football and working with KK.

But let's not get carried away, no manager can be in two places at once and if Wise and his team of Jeff Vetere and Tony Jimenez are employed to sift through a list of talent around the globe then we'll have to give it a chance to work.

Should Newcastle have four or five quality signings come the first game of the season or the last day of the August transfer window, can we complain?

Stability is what Newcastle need right now, not panic decisions to get rid of bosses too early or at the wrong time.

We've already tumbled down the pecking order in the Premier League in the last four years, stupid decisions and a further fall, will only lead to one thing...



Crazydave said:

Totally agree - stability is what is needed at the club at the moment. So called fans who are flooding message boards moaning about none movement in the transfer market doesnt help either. Transfers dont happen over night it is a long drawn out process these days. If people can recall Keegan is not the type of person who shouts about who his targets are, he prefers to have them signed on the dotted line before unvailing them.

Bob Heaton said:

By all means praise Booby for the good times, BUT some of his acquisitions and sales were awful. Carl Cort and Bowyer in? Nobby and Speed out? Viana? Wayne Quinn?! Kluivert? Great goals, but possibly the laziest player we've seen in a long time. Except maybe for Shola, someone else who sone occasionally for Sir Bob, but who also displayed a nonchalance that should've seen him removed from first team contention.

Perhaps most damning of all was his - and Fat Fred's - inability to control wayward elements of the team, especially when it came to 'fun and high jinks' on the Quayside - or in London hotels, where they evidently could compete with players from the big clubs; thus sowing the seeds for many problems to come. Remember reading those reports of the big name player calling him a 'senile old ----' on the training ground? Who could it have been? I wonder.

In his last season, despite the decent position, you could see our style of football going south. I remember over-reliance on an overrated Jenas and a clumsy Bramble (bought by Sir Bob, less we forget, after Ipswich had been hammered) and a Robert who I liked but got away with sulking on a scale Anelka can only dream of.

Robson should have been eased upstairs about a year before he was unceremoniously forced out. But who do we have to blame for that?

scott willis said:

i fell out of love with newcastle the day we sacked bobby .
looked on from afar the next few years with a sly smile and a pain in my heart.
watching souness rip the team apart like we all knew he would , freddy's search for a 'hard man' to control the dressing room ripped the heart out of this club and went against every footballing philosiphy this club had known these past decade's.
we took one of the world most renouned footballing men and spat him out without a care in the wolrd .
we deserve the position we now find ourselves in after doing that , hopefully the football gods will look down on us and realise we are aware of our mistakes and regret them more than anything .

Paul Patterson said:

I like John Carver and it would be great to see him become a success abroad (Not in the U.S though) and then come back and manage Newcastle United- It would be a great story wouldn’t it? But it was hardly rocket science to predict that Souness would destroy the club- I think 52,000+ predicted that. Sadly I think the two people who have got of VERY lightly in our demise are Freddy Shepherd and Douglas Hall.

It’s key to get a good start to the season and by that I mean the preparations in pre-season. You say Lee that if we get in a few signings before the season starts or by the end of August- can we complain?

Well yes actually. We need to have all of our targets in place BEFORE a ball is even kicked- under Souness, I remember we sat on our thumbs till August the 30th 2005 before we went out and threw £17m at Michael Owen and Nobby Solano and a week or so earlier we wasted £10m on Albert Luque. This was after four games of the season had gone, we‘d only picked up a point, scored no league goals and were out of Europe- Bad preparations.

This season MUST be different- No hidden agendas from the scouting team and no reluctance in the pockets of Mike Ashley- If he wasn’t prepared to spend, then he shouldn’t have bought a football club. It’s not like we need to spend £100m to get back into the top 6?

Some clever buys will do the trick, take advantage of certain situations at other clubs and make your move NOW. Don’t wait till we’ve played a few games before realising- ‘Oh hang on, we could be in trouble here’ and then thrown £40m at some overrated players from abroad. We need to get in players who have played in this league before, who know what it’s about, after all, if we have to wait a number of games to see a player bed into the style of this league, were wasting games already.

The ideal plan would be to do the deals immediately, get in the bulk of your buy’s and if a player comes around in the back end of August that would, undoubtedly improve the squad, you can make a quick move, but not be disappointed too much if you don’t get him, as you’ve got your squad sorted pretty much.

I’d make two moves for Peter Crouch and John Arne Risse and try a sly bid for Milan Baros,- and that would be me pretty satisfied- even if we got nobody else in, as I could see them improving the squad to such a degree. Then afterwards if someone comes available, we could move in and get him.

It’s been well documented that we need a centre back, but that wasn’t that big of a problem last season,- just that players were being played out of position or not at all and up front we were often playing with a man down in Alan Smith.

I’m not too convinced with the defensive targets that were linked heavily with- Richard Dunne?- It would be a bit of a gamble wouldn’t it- he was quite slow six years ago.

Kevin Keegan’s philosophy last time was that, the defence will take care of itself, if you sort the attack out and that is where we’ve lacked for a few years- We haven’t had one. Nobody ever mentions that our defence wasn’t much worse statistically than Manchester United’s in 1996, but it gets dogs abuse because we didn’t win the league- when the real reason we lost the title was?- Les Ferdinand stopped scoring at Christmas.

With the firepower of Michael Owen, Obafemi Martins, Peter Crouch, Milan Baros and Mark Viduka, that wouldn’t be a problem. I honestly think they’d push for the top 4, with Butt, Milner, N’Zogbia, Barton (When released) Risse, Beye, Taylor and Faye backing them up.- What could go wrong?


James 09 said:

Newcastle United learning from past mistakes??!! I wouldn't bet one penny on it given the well...decades of failure.

However....if he's fully backed in the transfer market (i.e. he gets funds AND his choice of targets, with Keegan in charge anything is possible - maybe even Newcastle learning from past mistakes!!

If NUFC don't sell or buy-out Alan Smith
we have serious competency issues. Please someone, anyone come in for him. He's not the one needing flushed out but when the only thing he contributes is scowling looks, new haircuts and yellow cards he must the first on the list.

Sy said:

I totally agree with Paul Patterson's points regarding how much we need to spend to get into the top 6. I said a few weeks back that we don't need to spend the earth and I still think this is the case. I agree that a few canny acquisitions will see us into Uefa Cup contention.

I'm also split about Richard Dunne. I'd much rather see us get Carlos Cuellar from Rangers...they owe us a favour after the Boumsong fiasco!

Overall, I don't think you could find a Geordie who wouldn't want stability and for Keegan to see out his contract. Hopefully we now have an owner, chairman and board with the intelligence to carry this out.

Leslie said:

I totally agree and think stability is the main priority for this football club, I think since Freddy shephard left we've seen the back of cut throat football at newcastle but Id also be more than happy to see the back of the last minute panic buys we are used to doing to satisfy fans that we've signed someone, and take a more resonable approach to signings

I think thats where Wise, Jimenez and vetere come into it, newcastle need to follow the likes of Arsenal and Man Utd and have a top quality youth academy/side and top that up with the odd foreign/english superstar!! I hate to see us signing second rate players that havent managed to fullfil ther potential elsewhere or are coming to the end of their playing days, ie, Duff, Butt, Carr, Viduka (I could go on and on) And all this talk of the likes of Riise, Milan Baros, SWP coming in is a big NO for me lets get back to basics and stablise the club and focus on the young players which in turn will make us more succesful for years to come.

Sandy Love said:

"I’d make two moves for Peter Crouch and John Arne Risse and try a sly bid for Milan Baros"
Milan Baros?? Have you seen him play in the last couple of years? Way past it. Crouch is mediocre 50 per cent of the time and rubbish the other 50. I agree with you on Riise though he would be an excellent addition. I can't understand still why Bobby was sacked and not given a role upstairs. It really upset me when he was let go as Shepperd put it he shot Bambi's Mother.

Winston Chua said:

I vividly remember how sad I felt upon hearing of Sir Bobby's sacking from the club, and my horror at finding out that the club secured the services of Greame Souness. Since then, we have spent the past few years living with the mistake of having Souness. Matters on the field got from bad to worse and seemed irreversible until KK's return. For the first time in years, I am actually looking forward POSITIVELY to the upcoming season knowing that Newcastle Untited will once again be the playing the kind of football the Toon Army deserves.

Frosty said:

We have gone backwards as a football club on the pitch since Bobby Robson was sacked but i feel that Keegan can do what Robson brought we just need 3 or 4 great signings and our big players to commit themselves to this club and push us forward. i would like to see

yiannis mazis said:


Andrew from Perth said:

Well, all I can say is I hope to the good lord we keep Michael Owen for two reasons - he's a champion/winner, and he gives us credibility for signing other big names. For too long we've been dictated to by know-it-alls like P. Patterson or worse- the southen media. No panic buys, and no Crouch please. Viduka is 10x better anyway.

Question? - M. Ashely promised to stun the football world, now he stuns us with football frugal-ism. Do you feel lied too?

My oinion is that although this football club isn't about him spending his cash to satisfy his ego, we have benefitied from his investment and economic rationism.

CP said:

Crouch - 50% mediocre & 50% rubbish? Are you serious? The guy's goal per game ratio for England & Liverpool over the last couple of years is exceptional for someone not rated a goalscorer + ask the majority of Liverpool fans if they agree with that 50% nonsense.

Take your glasses off mate and see beyond the gangly gawky looks, Crouch has a great touch, passes intelligently, and is a far better finisher than he is given credit for. Benitez is sticking £15m on him because he does'nt want to sell - I'd have him at the Toon anyday.

vic said:

left back - Risse
Attacking midfielder - Voronin
Finisher - Crouch.
For those Liverpool's trio we can spend no more than 23m. It is enough for this transfer window to lift us up to the top six. These guys are real targets. Next year would be easy to sign highly rated talants elsewere from the world.
Lets think about real things rather than dream about "Gomis"&"Modrich".

Roscoe said:

4 Players:

Dunne or Cuellar
Bridge or Shorey
Arshavin or Turan
Gomis or Crouch

Cost: 35mil MAX

Out: Smith, Cacapa, Roz

Value: Max 10mil

Total Outlay: 35-10= 25mil

Come on Wisey it can't be that Difficult.


Lee Ryder

Lee Ryder - Proudly born and bred on Tyneside, the Chronicle's chief sports writer has followed the fortunes of the club over the last three decades as a Toon fan and football writer.

Latest Premier League video


Email alerts

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

In association with


Follow my RSS feed


Follow me on

Lee Ryder's Twitter


Sponsored Links