Talk of a takeover has understandably taken over for Newcastle fans, in what are difficult times for all. However it is not just talk of new owners at the table, but a change in the dugout as well. Although if the takeover does go through (It is looking good!) a new manager may be last on the list of things to do when the new board get together to start to implement their strategy to get the club to compete, it has been one of the few things thats controlling conversation.
It is almost widely accepted that current manager Steve Bruce is living on borrowed time, in his first year in the Newcastle dugout. Some may be happy to see the end of Bruce, and some may feel sorry for the former Manchester United captain.
Bruce was always going to be facing a struggle to get some fans on his side, widely seen as an ‘Ashley Apologist’, and replacing the ever popular Rafa Benitez last summer (which now seems an age away!). It felt like a step back to the Ashley blueprint of manager, someone in the same mood as Pardew or McClaren!
On paper Bruce hasn’t had a bad first season in charge, safely in mid table in the league, and a quarter final of the FA Cup for the first time in Ashley’s tenure as owner. However the football hasn’t been great, and he had to try and steer the club through the worst run of injuries, I can remember, over the Christmas period.
But with new ownership, comes new hope, and a new direction. This new direction and new ideas is the reason many are tipping a new face to be in the St James’ dugout come the new season (when ever that is). The names mentioned are sure to get Newcastle fans excited, and show what calibre of player and staff the [possible] new owners hope to attract.
There are 3 names that keep getting mentioned in rumour pages and newspapers; Mauricio Pochettino, Rafa Benitez and Max Allegri.
There of course is one name that won’t be unfamiliar to the Geordie faithful, a certain Mr Benitez. Since his departure from the club last summer (we all know why!), Rafa made the gutsy move and went to manage in China, taking popular striker Salomon Rondon with him. As much as many fans would love to see Rafa return, to see what he can do with actual backing, and a streamlined vision of where to take the club, he does have a sizeable contract in China, with a reported £20 million release clause, and £12 million in wages after tax! Getting Rafa would not be cheap, and with Financial Fair Play (FFP) it may be an obstacle to deal with.
Mauricio Pochettino has become a household name over the past 5 years, even though he hasn’t actually lifted a trophy, working his way into the conversation as one of the better managers in Europe. Pochettino was surprisingly let go by Spurs in November, after a rough start to the Premier League season, months after steering his team to a Champions League Final. Although technically unemployed, Pochettino is still being paid by Spurs, with a report saying if he was to take a job within 6 months of his departure, Spurs would be owed some compensation. This apparently runs out towards the end of May, which may be when or if the new owners make a move for the Argentinian.
The third manager, Max Allegri left Juventus last season, and has according to reports been spending his time off learning English, ready to take a job in the Premier League. If this was to happen it would be Allegri’s first job outside of Italy, with his last two posts being with AC Milan and Juve. You could argue he is the least known out of the three, but has built up a decent reputation in Italy, leading two of Serie A’s leading clubs to domestic success.
The wages this calibre of manager would demand and to a certain extent deserve (on their CV’s anyways) would be an eyewaterinw amount, and levels probably never seen by Newcastle Fans before. Reports have even suggested that the new owners are willing to offer Pochettino £19 million before tax!!
No doubt the names mentioned are a massive improvement on what we currently have, it also see’s a signal of intent from the prospective new owners.
I feel sorry for Bruce, the bloke has done an ok job since he came in, and the cup run has been a highlight. However to move forward, regardless of what some ‘pundits’ say, Bruce is not the man. He has given us some brilliant comedy moments (Hows the bacon did you say?), and some decent play at times. But if we are to progress, and have a transfer kitty as large as some outlets are suggesting, you need a manager who: 1) is use to that level of investment, and 2) Has the ability to attract the sort of players who would take us to the next level. For me Steve Bruce, as likeable as a bloke he might be, isn’t who I would trust with a £200 million plus transfer fund.
My personal choice would be Poch, if it were to happen. I think the bloke has a point to prove, and what better way to do it than with the Geordie nation behind you. That is not to say I wouldn’t be over the moon if it was Rafa, or Allegri for that matter. I just think that all eyes will be on us in terms of FFP. With 13 years of going backwards in terms of commercial incomings (sponsorship, commercial partners etc) spending £20m on Rafa, plus wages, may put us over the edge to start with. Thats not to say Poch would be cheap, but wait until the end of May, and it’s just wages that have to be forked out. My personal belief as well is that this potential new ownership brings a fresh start and a clean slate at the club, and believe it should also be reflected in the management position as well.