Monday, May 07, 2007

End of the Roeder

When the other half of B&W&RAO phoned me last night to break the news that Glenn Roeder had resigned as Newcastle manager with immediate effect, it came as no great surprise.

After the recent series of desperately disappointing performances and results (the draws against Arsenal and Chelsea aside), Roeder looked increasingly likely to be ejected from the hotseat in the summer, but Saturday's appalling home defeat to Blackburn proved to be the straw that finally broke the camel's back. Roeder was summoned to a swiftly arranged emergency board meeting yesterday, no doubt with the fans' boos still ringing in his ears, and later offered his resignation.

Clearly his hand was forced - it was a case of jumping before he was pushed - but it's a measure of the man that when it became obvious his position was untenable he did the honourable thing, neither kicking up a fuss nor attempting to cling on. Contrast that with Graeme Souness, whose exit was far more undignified.

It seems Fat Fred was prepared to wait until the summer before taking action, but the Northern Echo is today suggesting that player power precipitated the crisis meeting: "several key members of the United squad made the chairman aware that Roeder had lost the dressing room". I sincerely hope they're ashamed of themselves.

Of course, the players have contributed to Roeder's downfall all season. True, we've suffered a horrendous injury list - it's hard to name a single member of the first team squad who hasn't spent a sustained spell on the sidelines - and there were signs that Roeder was struggling to organise and motivate those he could count on. But our multi-million pound squad, stuffed full of allegedly talented footballers, has been primarily responsible for what Roeder himself labelled a "dreadful season". The players need to have a good long look at themselves in the mirror; many of them should be disgusted by what they see.

One question will inevitably be asked is whether Shepherd made a mistake in appointing Roeder in the first place. To which my answer would definitely be no. Following Souness' dismissal, Roeder stepped into the breach, picked up the pieces and did a superb job, guiding us up the table to 7th and into Europe. He deserved his chance - and Fat Fred deserves some credit for giving it to him when he could have plumped for a bigger name. Shepherd has a notoriously twitchy trigger finger and could have fired Roeder in the autumn after our terrible start, but instead gave the manager a fair crack of the whip, again to his credit.

The sad truth though is that ultimately, above and beyond the injury woes and the frequently pathetic efforts of the players, Roeder simply wasn't good enough and a change had to come. I can only hope that the events surrounding his demise as manager don't come to sour his whole relation with the club, and tarnish the memories of his achievements both as a club captain and then as a manager last term. And if they do, then it's a stark warning to anyone who is desperate for Alan Shearer to return and take the reins.

Glenn, you go with our best wishes, at least.

Inevitably Sam Allardyce is being tipped as Roeder's replacement, with Ladbrokes having gone so far as to suspend all betting on the appointment. But, for me, there remain doubts. Would Fat Sam be prepared to put up with Fat Fred's meddling and interference in transfer activities, as well as his regular public pronouncements about the team? And would Fat Fred's gargantuan ego allow him to lower himself to approaching Fat Sam for a second time, having already been rejected once?

My hope - and I'll make no bones about it - is that the answer to both questions is no. I don't want Fat Sam to be the next manager of Newcastle Utd, and despite what you might be reading elsewhere in the media, I suspect that's a view shared by a lot of other supporters. He's an arrogant ingracious oaf whose teams may be ruthlessly efficient in picking up points but play appalling football in doing so. Undoubtedly we need more discipline, determination, effort and backbone - but Fat Sam isn't the only manager capable of instilling those values in a squad.

The timing of Roeder's resignation is such that whoever does come in will have the whole summer to put their own personal stamp on the squad, without the distractions of a World Cup or an Intertoto Cup campaign starting in July. Expect the changes to be wholesale.


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