Why does it keep happening?
Ignoring the mistakes made by the likes of McKeag when we truly were staring oblivion in the face for just a minute to concentrate on the ever-so-capitalist world of post-Italia '90 football, I am absolutely baffled as to how this club gets it wrong year in, year out.
Kevin Keegan was 'allowed' to walk out, 3 years into a 10 year contract, among many claims, some unsavoury. Kevin Keegan 'resigned' on 8th Jan 1997. Freddy Shepherd became chairman in December 1996. Although a long time ago now, the fact that this was the case has NEVER been explored.
The Fake Sheikh scandal - Freddy Shepherd resigning as chairman in March 1998, only to vote himself back onto the board 10 months later. The subsequent re-appointment meant that the disgusted chairman of the time, David Cassidy, immediately resigned. Shepherd is both the chairman AND executive. Tony Banks, sports minister, called for his head, such was the abysmal nature of his scandal.
Shepherd owns almost all of his Newcastle shares through Shepherd Offshore, in conjunction with his brother, Bruce. Unlike the Halls, who have been steadily selling off their shares since floatation in 1997, the Shepherds have increased their holding. They now own 28.01% of the club, up from about 22% in April 2005. Since 1997, the Shepherd's have made ₤8,351,298 from Newcastle United, ₤5,489,239 in share dividends and ₤2,862,059 in salaries. In 2005, Shepherd's annual salary from the club was £552,954. How is this allowed to happen???
The player signings have been disheartening to the extreme since Shepherd came to power. Before Shepherd controlled this club, the transfers included Beardsley, Cole, Lee, Beresford, Bracewell, Venison, Srnicek, Albert, Shearer, Batty, Ferdinand, Ginola, to name but a handful. After Shepherd arrived: Andersson, Tomasson, Dabizas, Hamann, Guivarc'h, Marcelino, Goma, Ferguson, Domi, Gavilan, Cort, Bassedas, O'Brien, Robert, Jenas, Viana, Bramble, Butt, Kluivert, Milner, Faye, Boumsong, Babayaro, Luque. Just to let you know - under Shepherd we spent in excess of £100m. Which he controlled. On rubbish.
The what could've beens - watching Mido, Collins John, Henri Camara, Boa Morte and any number of players who've given a cracking service, one has to wonder exactly what is going on. Glenn Roeder may have been commenting on the state of affairs at SJP - maybe THIS is the catalyst needed to get Freds a**e in gear, rather than the two straight hammerings. But why are we always responding to failure, rather than pre-empting success? Because the chairman, for all his financial nous and desire to do right by Newcastle, simply isn't equipped to do the job.
He is like Souness. He believes he's doing it right, but is ultimately only guided by his mates (Souness - Saunders, Tunks and Murray; Shepherd - Hall and his brother, Bruce) and his own inflated ego. Shepherd, like Souness, wants success on the field more than failure. However, they both share a desire for financial gain which runs success a very, very close second - so close, that those on the outside can't even see the line. When Newcastle finished 14th, Souness will use the UEFA and FA Cup runs as a measure of how he did. Shepherd used the financials, which he balanced (through lack of investment behind the scenes, incidentally) to offer himself a coupla million bonus. Shepherd isn't an evil man. He isn't trying to fail. He just doesn't actually have a choice. He may know how to balance books, he may understand 'entrepreneur'. But he sure as hell doesn't know how to make a succesful football club. More fool us for buying the shirts, season tickets, mugs (ironically) and whatever else, ultimately keeping him in a job.