Newcastle United drifting towards disaster – Doing nothing is not an option

    Newcastle United are yet again drifting towards potential / likely disaster.

    Absolutely no plan in place as to getting properly prepared for the 2021/22 Premier League season.

    The local media bizarrely try to make out that Newcastle United are normal, that this is how pretty much all clubs operate, when nothing could be further from the truth.

    Newcastle United have an absent landlord (owner Mike Ashley), a puppet Chief Executive (Lee Charnley) with no real power and a Head Coach (Steve Bruce – Not even allowed the title of Manager) who has no say either on anything important, particularly transfers in and out.

    Newcastle United have no board, with Lee Charnley named as the only Director, because company rules say you have to name at least one. All other clubs have at least one board of directors, some have two (a higher one that meets less frequently, then a lower one that meets more often in order to make decisions and react to events / issues), which set budgets and help the club operate in the best possible way. The board of directors supporting the Chief Executive and the high powered professional team working under him / her.

    Newcastle United have one official named executive, Lee Charnley, that is it. Every other club has numerous executives in positions of power, given the job and the freedom to drive their club forward.

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    At Newcastle, Mike Ashley pulls the strings remotely from a distance, the shadowy figure of Justin Barnes (and to a lesser extent Keith Bishop) relied upon by Ashley to help decide what to do at St James Park.

    A recipe for disaster if you have ever seen one.

    In 14 seasons of ownership, Mike Ashley has seen two relegations, two seasons in the second tier, one top nine finish in the Premier League, then the majority of the other nine PL seasons spent in a relegation battle. In the 14 Premier League seasons before Mike Ashley turned up, Newcastle failed to get 50 or more PL points only four times, whilst they never got less than 43 points. In Ashley’s 14 years, only once has 50 points or more happened, whilst three times less than 40 points.

    The local media and a small number of very naive Newcastle fans, believe that somehow, despite everything you can see, Newcastle United is some well oiled, well ran operation, that cracks into gear when needed. A bit like a Swan gliding across the lake, they believe that there is frantic action going on under the water, that can’t be seen.

    Whilst I think pretty much every other club DOES have that frantic action happening in between seasons, everybody doing their best to prepare for the next, from the very top to the very bottom. I instead have this image of Lee Charnley locking up at St James Park a few weeks ago when the 2020/21 season ended and hanging up a ‘Gone Fishing’ sign on the gates.

    Yes Newcastle United do have a scouting team but if you wondered how high powered and invaluable it is at NUFC…you only had to look at what happened last year, the Mail revealing that in March 2020 Mike Ashley had put the entire scouting team on furlough, including Head of recruitment Steve Nickson for the foreseeable future. Now, I have no idea as to how good or not Steve Nickson is at his job BUT to have furloughed him, it doesn’t exactly suggest that he is very highly paid or high powered.

    With Mike Ashley continuing to furlough unknown numbers of staff right through to 2021, who knows if Nickson and all of his scouting staff are actually working? As with all things, Ashley and his minions aren’t going to communicate it.

    Reality is that Newcastle United are massively reliant on agents to put together deals when Mike Ashley does allow signings. I’m not saying other clubs don’t rely on agents to help in the transfer market but fair to say there is no doubt that in the absence of the usual levels of Premier League club staffing at NUFC, Newcastle are far more reliant than most.

    A bit like finally admitting to yourself that Santa or the Tooth Fairy doesn’t exist, it is totally depressing when you finally accept that what you see is indeed what is there. We rely on Lee Charnley with Mike Ashley and Justin Barnes in the background making the higher / important decisions.

    I think two things are surely totally apparent (unless a takeover does happen) unless you refuse to believe them.

    Firstly, no proper attempt will be made to buy Joe Willock.

    Secondly, no attempt will be made to buy other high value players, it will be loans, frees and maybe the odd budget buy.

    The surest sign is all these contract extensions given to current players, Mike Ashley and Justin Barnes wanting to believe that surely if you keep most of your players, then you should once again get most of those same points…

    Last season, Newcastle United only managed 28 points in the Premier League matches where Joe Willock didn’t score. That is Joe Willock who won’t be playing for NUFC next season.

    Steve Bruce keeps referring to a poor spell Newcastle United had after Christmas / in the New Year, as though we lost a few matches. The slavish NUFC media, with the very odd (banned!) exception, giving Bruce a predictably easy ride.

    A reminder, Newcastle United went 21 games winning only two of them, over a four month period.

    Joe Willock massively saved us, ASM getting fully fit helped out to a degree as well.

    Giving new contracts to some of the existing NUFC squad is of course the right decision but is it really a route to success, or even safety, to retain all these same players who don’t score or create goals? Whilst in defence, only two clubs outside the bottom relegated two conceded more goals than Bruce’s Newcastle last season.

    The 2021/22 season is now less than nine weeks away and the Newcastle United squad are back to start pre-season preparations in 22 days time (5 July).

    Steve Bruce declared confidently that far less action would happen in the transfer window this summer and certainly very little money spent.

    The window opened four days ago and already a dozen deals (as per the official Premier League site) have been agreed (including those agreed before the window opening), with around £100m spent. Yet again, relying on what Steve Bruce has to say, is not to be recommended.

    I can see it now, the big uplifting story the club will use, is Andy Carroll agreeing to spend a third season sitting on the bench, hoping to double the one Premier League goal total he has managed in these last 38 months. With Lee Charnley and Steve Bruce saying that it took a lot of hard work to get this deal over the line.

    It is possible for a football club to succeed despite the inadequacies of the owner(s) BUT that is only if the club is allowed to have a proper professional structure, with high powered teams appointed to run both the football and non-football side of things, with proper budgets and allowed to get on to do the job without unnecessary interference from above.

    Needless to say, this is NOT what we have at Newcastle United.

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