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Flip flops and towels at the ready?

By Lee Ryder on Jun 28, 09 04:24 PM

Newcastle United players will return to their Benton HQ this week - but they will be walking back into a different environment to the one they left back in May under the guidance of Alan Shearer.

In my humble opinion, the training ground was transformed last season from a millionaires health club to an army boot camp within a week from April 1 when Big Al was appointed as boss in our last gasp bid to avoid the drop.

That wasn't Chris Hughton's fault as he was brought in amidst an emergency situation to look after other people's players but he now has another big job on his hands.

For Mike Ashley bringing Shearer in was the last desperate act from a desperate man as things started to crumble at St James's Park due to a string of decisions, which have almost killed us as a club.

Make no mistake, Chris Hughton is one of the most likeable blokes in football and in a sport that is often dominated by people on ego trips, the Londoner is different because he is a total gentleman.

However, one thing he's not, again in my opinion, is management material.

And when Hughton took training last season for long periods and Joe Kinnear watched on, the training ground did for me represent a bit of a joke and not a very funny one at that.

Indeed, watching players like Cacapa wander in with flip flops and towels at the ready for another long session on the treatment table was enough to make my blood boil, especially with the position Newcastle United found themselves in.

It was well documented at the time that Big Al introduced a system in which players were punished for being late and the treatment room quickly emptied when players were told they would have to stay in their until teatime rather than knock off just after lunch.

The reserve team also changed with first team members being told they had to play rather than a bunch of kids.

It's understood that Xisco didn't fancy the idea of playing in places like Warrington, Widnes or North Ferriby under Kinnear but that also changed when Shearer was appointed.

Yes, Newcastle's bid to beat the drop ultimately failed under Shearer but with just eight games to go it was always going to be tough.

For me we went down by virtue of one goal but it's safe to say that if Shearer had not have been appointed, we'd have been down much earlier than the final day, well it is in light of just what Newcastle's training ground had turned into.

Again Hughton is regarded as an excellent coach and the players clearly enjoy working under him.

But are they scared of him?

Does he send the fear of God into the players?

Certainly Shearer did.

For example one of Shearer's managerial successes was to get Mark Viduka on the pitch and playing in the way we all know he can when he can be bothered.

He collared Viduka and asked him if he was up for the battle and if he wasn't to pack his bags and leave early.

It worked to an extent, Viduka was one of the better players during the run-in and what if that "goal" against Fulham had stood?

Football is a game about emotion, passion and most importantly controlled aggression.

But I just can't imagine Hughton picking a teapot up and smashing it off the wall if he felt he wasn't getting his point across.

My memory takes me back to an incident not long after Christmas when the winter sun was blinding.

As I walked to an interview room I heard a bellowing voice.

"Oi I wanna word with you", he said.

As I tried to look up I couldn't see exactly who it was but soon as his frame blocked out the sunlight it was Alan Smith.

"Why you been writing **** in the paper about me having an effin setback!"

I promptly replied, that not only was the article not written by me but it was in a different paper all together.

Smith then exploded into another rant about why journalists couldn't check things with the club.

I didn't mind Smith's honesty one little bit, I didn't mind him kicking off - it was refreshing to see he gave a **** and he instantly went up in my estimation in five minutes flat.

I replied we were often kept in the dark about injuries with physios often touchy about the subject for obvious reasons.

A few minutes later Smith calmed down but rather than hauling his player away from a sticky situation, Hughton watched on and let the situation peter out.

Whether other managers would have done the same is a good question.

The point Smith also made was that everybody should have been "together" back then, but what was clear was that there were split camps in that dressing room and cliques.

A professional has pointed out to me on several occasions that a team that drinks together, wins together.

But that clearly isn't the case in Newcastle, team spirit didn't exist.

So where am I going with this.

Well basically, if you needed me to point out that Newcastle weren't already in deep trouble, I'm doing it now.

Under the supervision of Hughton and Colin Calderwood, things don't look good.

I could actually understand it more if Calderwood was handed the job as boss until Ashley sells the club.

I'm not saying he would be a success but he is a manager and Hughton is pigeon holed as a coach.

There aren't too many options at Newcastle but even Richard Money would be a better bet than a confusing system like the Hughton/Calderwood system, which yielded just one win in 10 games last season.

Money actually does scare some of the reserve team players - he might just be a better bet if Ashley is going to continue to dig his heels in on Shearer.

Many will say that Shearer also won once last season.

But after witnessing the transformation of the training ground in just a few days last season, the scary prospect of going back to of this bling boys millionaires health club, it has to be said Newcastle fans are on course for more pain, more grief and more agony.


19 Comments

AndyMac said:

Sorry Lee did I miss something ? Did Big Al's boot camp philosophy win us a reprieve from relegation ? Did it help the team win eight consecutive games on the trot ? Did it make Collocinni a world class centre back overnight ? Bottom line is AS is no more a gifted manager than the clueless Roeder, and look what happened to him.

This club never ceases to amaze me by picking managers who, at every level, are so obviously the wrong choice to do a job.
Souness, Roeder, Allardyce, Kinnear - jeez you couldnt get a finer bunch of no hopers if you tried (unless you brought in Peter Reid as fitness coach).

AS may come good after a period of working with a mentor or by building a reputation in the lower leagues but he wasnt the answer last season nor will he be next.

Ryder's reply: Are you for real?
As I say we would have been relegated before the last game if Shearer hadn't have came in, he simply didn't have enough time.
He dropped Coloccini at the first opportunity because he was such a disaster.
I agree with you on one thing though, we make the wrong decisions, hence not giving Shearer the job now and costing us vital pre-season preparation time.
Who would you have as manager then ?
Big Fat Ron?

Teddy Kane said:

I see Robbie Elliott's gone. No tears shed there. Pity Hughton isn't on his way too. Bliddy useless. The coaching at SJP has been dire over the last few seasons.

Teddy Kane said:

And Calderwood's back. Oh Lord. And will we object to this now or when it's too late like eveyrthing else this season?

jack said:

Every single day for the past few weeks i've checked this web sight hoping to see that finally a tiny scrap of commen sense has prevailed and Alan Shearer has been appointed full time manager to prepare for possibly the most important season in this club's history. Every day. Surley we are a more sellable propostion with a f*cking manager in place. More lies to sell tickets. And that away strip to boot. Even the good people of Wearside must have stopped laughing by now. This has genuinely gone beyond a joke. Never in 28 years have I ever wanted more to be able to stop supporting this football team.

AndyMac said:

Ryder's reply: "Are you for real? As I say we would have been relegated before the last game if Shearer hadn't have came in, he simply didn't have enough time"

Hang on a minute when AS joined the club we had 29 points and were in 18th position. We played a further eight games (just under a quarter of a season) and managed to get out of the R Zone after beating Boro. We could have stayed there if we had gained 1 POINT (YES THATS ONE POINT) from the remaining two games against Fulham (sorry that's the mighty Fulham) and Villa.

In my opinion you're clutching at straws by saying AS didnt have enough time. He wouldnt have any more ability to lead, motivate and instill the winning mentality in a team even if he'd had all season to do it - mainly because the team lacked creativity in bucket loads.

Despite all your AS inspired rhetoric, his team remained more or less the same for all his eight games whereas I would have let the youngsters loose especially in the final two games. Particularly Nile Ranger as he couldnt possibly have done any worse than EMO or Viduka or Smith or blah blah blah.

You have a right, of course, to nail your colours to Sergeant Major Shearer's mast but Sergeant Major's arent necessarily renowned for their subtlety, invention or creativity. So we may be a fit team next season but will we be able to work our way out of a very competitive league ? Bearing in mind the parachute payment system from the Premier League, we cannot risk not gaining automatic promotion next season otherwise we may find ourselves in Championship limbo for a few seasons to come.

Ryder's reply: I think even if Jose Mourinho was handed the job, which he won't be, then he would understand people wanting Shearer to get the job.
If Shearer gets the job we've got a good chance of getting out of the Championship, that's my view.
And you still haven't answered my question - who would you have instead of Shearer?

MrT said:

Does the Keegan compensation claim have anything to do with this slow takeover?
Will the new owners have to foot KK's claim or will that go with Mike? Is the claim with the club or just ashley? so many questions and no answers, par for the course with nufc.

Scotty said:

The Chuckle brothers (Houghton/Calderwood) are back in charge for pre season god help us. If Calderwood was such a great coach/manager why was he sacked at forest?? I'm sure the forest fans will tell you it's somthing to do with him nearly booking them a place back in League 1. I'm sure every manager in the Championship will be shaking in their boots now at the thought of facing the fantastic two next season. We just seem to be heading knowhere but League 1 next year if these clowns stay in charge.

BobbyTee said:

And you still haven't answered my question - who would you have instead of Shearer?

Easy - Steve Coppell. Get him in now !!!!!

Anyone seen the BBC report that Shepherd is about to buy toon for £60m.

Ronaldo is worth more than our whole club !!!!

lambic peach said:

hmmmm!!!! There is nothing worse than being laughed at...This non appointment of a manager is deja vu, and its gonna cost us. Hard to believe that the owner has the best interests of the club at heart, so i don't.

DavidK said:

It's with no smugness that I say I told you "things would get worse before they get better". I did say it, and, let's face it, they look as though they are.
We're faced with a return of The Chuckle Brothers to take charge until somebody finally explains to the Market Trader how to make a decision, no clear indication of what's happening in relation to the takeover and the haemmoraging of the sort of players that it would have been better to retain while the wastes of space resolutely return to training.
Anybody want to start a book on how many culpable names from the team sheet of the squad that got the club relegated will be in the programme on the first day of the season?
Just pencil in the ones who aren't fit enough or good enough to move on at comparable wages. I doubt we'll need to include any new players.

Billy The Mag said:

Ryder's reply: If Shearer gets the job we've got a good chance of getting out of the Championship, that's my view. And you still haven't answered my question - who would you have instead of Shearer?


I hope your right, lord it looks like we won’t accept any other route now, but unfortunately gut feel, groundless hope and really wishing it will turn out ok are not strong enough reasons for me to share your optimism Lee.


Mangers are rightfully judged on performance and results and not the discipline of the training ground. On that former basis, we have no reason to believe that Shearer is anywhere close to being a good manager, not only did he fail to get the results but he also showed all of his tactical naivety, which is not his fault, because lest we forget he his not a football manager! He is the greatest number nine of his generation and a football pundit and what seems the be the swaying factor, a Geordie but he is NOT a football manager, not yet at least.


In his first four games he played four different systems and three different formations – 5-3-2, 3-5-2, 4-3-3 – and worse than that, Shearer wasn't able to organize the team on the pitch, the players did not know what they where doing, they lacked very basic organization which is very different to there lack of skill and commitment. Good mangers give players a job to do, make it clear and adjust it as they the game develops. I saw first hand on Six occasions a man who was trying his sincere best to learn his trade on the job and thats the rub.


Now I hear you say, give the lad time, and I agree that in time Shearer may become as good a tactician as he is motivator and disciplinarian. But you know, and love the man as I do, I don’t want him to learn his trade on Newcastle United right now. It's the wrong time to bring in a local hero, all the commitment, passion and belief in the world count for zero points at the end of the season.


To answer your second question, who is a better manager than a manager who has never managed or played in the second tier of English football.


Nigel Pearson, Eddie Howe, Andy Scott or Darren Ferguson.


I know these names are not going to fire the fans up but they are solid managers who have at least proved over a period time they can manage teams and win games.


As for Big Al, I love the man but let’s be careful what we wish for.

tomfitz said:

The barra boy has already made his decision. He is getting out in his own time when he can get as much money as possible. He does not care what happens to the club, the supporters or the city as they have made their feelings about him very clear. We will all have to wait and see what he leaves behind as nothing will be said to the press by this bunch of cloons. I hope someone can put a deal together soon and let us get on with the future but I,m not holding my breath. fpkve6

Dave Robson said:

all these people who say Shearer is not the man for the job, what a load of crap, fergie, wenger, benitez, moyes, o' neill, moyes, who not have stood a cat in hells chance of keeping us up with the players Alan had at his disposal, what he will do if and wenever he gets the job, will be to clear the merceneries and deadwood out and bring the players he knows will do a good solid job for HIM.
Even if he does not manage to get the job before the transfers window shuts, the lad has to be given as much time as he needs to get this club running like a football club should be run, from top to bottom, without idiots wingeing, if we lose a few in a row, to start with.
it's got nothing to do with him being another messiah, Shearers 100% genuine and will without a doubt become a class act as a manager, just as he was a player.


its about time someone looked into that parasite Ashleys buisness dealings, the man is a crook 100%, maybe the chronicle needs to start to do some digging into his buisness affairs instead of printing the same old rubbish day in day out about what former players think.

M. Sebastian T. said:

The way things are going there will be no problem writing a script for You Couldn’t Make It Up II: The Slide Continues. And there might ends up being as many parts to the farce as there are Rambo movies. Can’t you just imagine the billboards in summer 2015

“Now playing at Quayside, You Couldn’t Make It Up VII: At Last We Got a Draw Away to Spennymoor”

If Shearer gets the manager’s job you can count on a decade of misery. He has no qualifications at all for that job at all. Having been somebody who once came near to realising his potential with Blackburn is no qualification for running a Coca Cola Championship side.

There are rumours that You Couldn’t Make It Up is going to move to the West End. Whether it eventually will become a tv series depends on how much more script material Ashley, Shearer, KK et al can generate but things are look very promising in that respect.

AndyMac said:

"And you still haven't answered my question - who would you have instead of Shearer?"

Soz Lee was off on work issues but in answer to your question, I think there's only one man with both experience of managing in the English League who also has a recent track record of winning things, within the past five years, and who isnt called Ferguson, Mourinho or Wenger.


Juan de la Cruz Ramos Cano

"Took over from Joaquin Caparros at Sevilla in 2005 and won five trophies in two years. Sevilla secured back-to-back UEFA Cups with final wins over Middlesbrough and Espanyol and won the King's Cup in June 2007.

They beat Barcelona to win the European Super Cup in 2006 and Real Madrid to lift the Spanish Super Cup in 2007. Ramos steered Sevilla into the Champions League group stage for the first time at the beginning of last season, on the back of a third-place finish in the Primera Liga.

Linked with a move to Tottenham Hotspur during the close season after media reports suggested the club's manager Martin Jol no longer enjoyed the confidence of chairman Daniel Levy. Resigned from Sevilla and was appointed manager of Tottenham on October 27, 2007, after Jol was sacked.

Made a relatively good start to his Spurs career, steering them to a 2-1 victory over Chelsea in the League Cup final in February 2008"

We'd have to pay him top dollar of course but with Viduka, Owen and Smith's (please God somebody wants to buy him) wages off the books we could well afford it.

And before you say anything about his record at Spurs you've got to take on board he won a cup for them before succumbing to the same issues Keegan had here second time around i.e. a Director of Football overruling decisions about who to buy and sell.

Ramos would turn this club around without a shadow of doubt, I just cannot say the same about AS.

Lee said:

Totally agree with Billy the Mag and BobbyTee - there are very competent, experienced managers out there, you just have to remove the 'only a Geordie can manage Newcastle' blinkers. We need to get rid of this 'small town' mentality and while we're at it, put in place a long-term strategy for building a successful team. The only real positive I can see about Big Al getting the job would be that any failure would be tolerated for alot longer than other managers would be given. The downside of that is that he becomes virtually unsackable, ie bigger than the club.

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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.

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