Back To Basics

Last updated : 10 January 2006 By Footy Mad - Editor

This club is a great club with a lot of potential for success, but not
with three over-riding factors at the helm:

In Freddy Shepherd, there is a 25% success rate in appointing managers,
and even in Sir Bobby Robson, the man literally picked himself, so it''s
hard to even attribute that to Mr. Shepherd. However, the main problem
with Freddy Shepherd in what HE expects from Newcastle United - I''ll come
back to this later on.
Graeme Souness has consistently failed on every level, from the PR with
the fans who refuse to buy into him, his staff or his methods, to the
training issues, to the little problem with a thing called ''results''.
It''s month after month of abject failure - but quite what level of
failure I will come to again in a bit.
Alan Shearer - Dear Mr. Shearer, thank you for all the wonderful MEMORIES,
you''ve BEEN a wonderful servant to the club, we will miss you loads and
loads but your decision to RETIRE is not one you should go back on. Love,
Newcastle-Upon-Tyne xx. Simply put, how can the future of our football
rest on the shoulders of a ''dying breed'', as Rob Lee put it? It can''t,
can it - so whilst he''s given so much and deserves more than a meagre
record to show, it is time to move on - from all three, if possible!

What I would suggest is this:

That we should lower the goals of the PLC, making European qualification a
"nice to have" rather than a "must have". In turn, this takes all kinds of
pressure off the manager and means the board have to buck up their ideas
in terms of balancing the books - no more Michael Owens, plenty more
Emre''s would be the clear and distinct message. A good squad to compete
with Bolton, rather than a sprinkling of Superstars to compete with

The key, for me, is that although the fans shouldn''t dictate what happens
at a football club, it is still very important to appoint someone whom the
fans will have this kind of patience with. We need to adopt a Bolton or
Spurs strategy - and not just on the basis of this year, but the fact they
have shown in the last few years clear progression without spending
millions and millions in the transfer market. Whilst we don''t have a say,
the board should be well aware of the problems that have arrived with
Gullit, Dalglish and Souness that were not in evidence under Keegan or
Robson. Time isn''t there. We won''t wait for results. Spurs wouldn''t
wait for Jol to produce, neither would Arsenal with Wenger. However,
Bolton were patient under Allardyce and look where they are?

Big Sam is the man to follow (not to employ) based on his ability to get
the fans onside, then show progress on the pitch. Jol just happened to
deliver quickly, as did Wenger. However, if we set out our stall to ASPIRE
to top-8 and buy players accordingly, we can''t go far wrong. Purchasing
Luque and Owen for massively inflated fee''s to appease the fans or the
PLC is completely wrong, and why Shep is such an ill-equipped tool for the
job at hand.

I have said ages ago we need to get back to basics and show progress. Ship
out Souness, push Shepherd back, redress our expectancies and make sure
the fans will buy into the next manager. It''s so simple, I can''t believe
I even need to write it. Once the fans understand that we''re in the
better teams in the middle of the Premiership, qualifying for Europe
becomes a glorious thing. Once the board recognise this as a requirement
to build a future for the club, so the players we bring in will be
reflectant of that. No more derision from the fans because we follow up
the purchase of Michael Owen with the trial of Yoann Lachon! Instead,
we''d have bought Ashton, or Anelka, and be looking at Wayne Bridge, or
Hatem Trabelsi, or similar £3-5m talent to bolster a hard-working,
well-filled squad of players.

None of this should be rocket science, so long as we take the lead. We may
be nothing more than a background murmur to the likes of Souness and
Shepherd, but then again they''re not the brightest sparks out there. Help
these people help themselves and make football more fun again - redress
your expectancies and the rest will follow.

Trust me - I''m a geordie!

Neil Crossley