Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Who's next?

With Roeder now simply the latest name in a long list of managers who have failed to win a trophy (and I'm sorry Glenn, but the Intertoto doesn't really count) the search for his long term replacement continues apace.

In terms of his departure, I'm sorry to season Roeder go, in so far as he appears to be a thoroughly decent, honourable man, who was an excellent academy director, and did well when he took over as caretaker last season. As Ben has already commented, his departure, in contrast to that of Souness shows the measure and class of the man - falling on his sword early rather than clinging on to the bitter end.

For once, I must give the board a small bit of praise too - the lessons of history seemingly learnt with Roeder going in early summer, not in late August. The benefits of this approach are clear, not only will we get to pick our new manager from a theoretically bigger pool of candidates, but the newly appointed manager will enjoy an entire transfer window and pre-season to stamp their authority on the squad.

So far, so good.

The question now comes as to who will be the man to drink from the "poisoned chalice" as the media have dubbed the post. A description which I think is absolute rubbish - Dalgleish went because he signed crap players and wrecked a perfectly good team and we promptly played shit football, Gullitt went because we only had room for one ego and Shearer's was more important, Robson went because his time had finally come, Souness should never have been appointed and his bully boy tactics didn't work and Roeder has now gone because he doesn't appear to be a big enough bastard to motivate multi-millionaires.

Anyway, on to the question of who to bring in...

In my view, the new manager needs to:
- have a proven background in management
- be a strong personality who can impose his will on the team and cope with the "goldfish bowl"
- understand that we are now living in the 21st Century and not the 1970s, and that players are different now

- be committed to attacking, attractive football
- be connected with the club

The media would have us believe that Fat Sam already has the job, in all but name (and that may well be the case). Assessing what I know of him against the criteria above, he ticks the first three, but falls foul of the wish list. We could do worse (Souness being a prime example of how we have made worse appointments in the past, at least Allardyce left Bolton chasing European football not fending off relegation). I know he's an ex-mackem, but so were Paul Bracewell and Barry Venison.

One other option who has been linked to us in the past is Sven Goran-Eriksson. Given his views on the English press, I can't see him fancying the one city/one club atmosphere of Newcastle, even if we wanted him (although today's Guardian suggests he might fancy it). The Guardian also suggests Gerrard Houllier might fancy a return to England, after a period of league success at Lyon. From the tone of the article it suggests that Houllier is disenchanted with his chairman's involvement in transfers. He'd love working with Fat Fred then...

Looking further afield, Sevilla coach Juande Ramos has proved successful in Spain, and may fancy his chances of following Rafa Benitez to England. His record is a good one, but whether he'd take to Newcastle is another matter entirely.

Back in the Premiership, the only prospective candidate to jump out seems to be Mark Hughes, and I think we could do a lot worse. However, he might be content to bide his time until Fergie finally packs in life at Old Trafford, but otherwise there are very few candidates who leap out. Outside of the top flight, candidates seem pretty thin on the ground.

With Shearer safely ensconced in the Match of the Day studios, and without a full raft of qualifications to his name (admittedly something which didn't stop Glenn or Gareth Southgate this season) it seems doubtful that he'd fancy the job.

With no stand out candidates available, we're almost inevitably drawn back to Allardyce - he may not be my ideal choice, but unfortunately I can't see Arsene Wenger leaving Arsenal anytime soon.

So will Fat Fred surprise us, or will we be raiding Bugsy Malone for headlines for the whole of next season?


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