Graeme Souness came out over the weekend with a warning to new owner Mike Ashley saying that Newcastle United were a big club with big problems. We’ll look at what Graeme said – and then try to understand the problems we think he was referring to within the club.
Former Magpies Manager Souness
If Newcastle are going to be great again – we have to get rid of people who are interfering at the club – although we cannot believe that Big Sam will take any of that nonsense. But first let’s take a look at what ex-manager Graeme Souness said to Sportsweek on Radio Five Live:
“(Mike Ashley) is obviously a very wealthy individual but success will depend on how much money he is prepared to spend.
“During my time at Newcastle and Glenn Roeder’s time we had money to spend but it was to tart the team up, not to build a team.
“It will need big money to bridge that gap into the top four because it is an enormous gap. The top four are so far away from everyone else at the moment.
“It’s a very, very difficult job. This is a big football club with big problems.”
One of the difficulties both Souness and Roeder faced was the injury concern and we think to Souness’ credit he tried to get to the bottom of it and blamed the training pitch at Little Benton – but that didn’t really solve things. Newcastle’s injury record is a big problem – no doubt about it – and we expect Big Sam to get to the bottom of this one – quickly. You could make a good argument that both Souness and Roeder lost their jobs because of all the injuries – and of course Michael Owen – our most expensive player has been inured all the time.
Graeme went on:
Sam has never managed a big club before and this is his opportunity to be successful,”.
“You wake up in morning when you manage a big club and you look to get through day with the fewest problems. “I didn’t enjoy my time up there.
“It’s not the pressure of expectation. I have worked at bigger clubs than Newcastle and expectation you can live with. “It is everything else you have to put up with. It is a very difficult job.”
That’s very true about Sam – so it will beÂ challenge for him – but he certainly seems up for it.
Then Souness turned to interference from Chairman and Owners at clubs regarding decisions on who is brought into the club – and Graeme thinks it’s a big problem in football today:
“That is a fundamental problem in football today. “You get people who come into the game and they are in it for five or six years, sometimes less, and all of a sudden they are experts. “I am talking about owners and chairmen. They decide who comes and goes from your club, they are laying the policy down on so many issues.
“I could name half a dozen clubs off the top of my head where that happens.” “I feel I can do it better than some of the people I worked for. I know I would not be there to interfere,”
As far as Newcastle goes it seems obvious that the people Souness is referring to here are Chairman Shepherd and Vice-Chairman Douglas Hall – the son of Sir John Hall. The two of them have always been after trophy signings. Remember Patrick Kluivert as a good example. Apparently Bobby Robson – manager at the time – had no idea Patrick was coming to the club in the summer of 2004. Also Shepherd was involved in trying to bring Wayne Rooney to the club at the same time – a forward despite our defensive frailties.
So there are two examples. With the Hall family having sold their shares we expect that’s the end of Douglas Hall’s involvement – but maybe not.
Apparently Shepherd had a clause written into his contract saying he (and Douglas Hall) will be paid full wages for two years after they sell their shares. So even when they own no shares in the club – they will continue to rip us off for two years – does that sound selfish to you?Â Â It looks therefore like Shepherd and Hall are at the club for two more years – but we think they will need to behave themselves with Mike Ashley to remain in that job for any length of time. There again – if things get bad and they interfere too much – Ashley can always sack them and pay them off. He can then bring in his own Chairman (David Dein?).Â That may happen sooner rather than later.
We also think some local journalists may have interfered at the club – one notable one being Alan Oliver of the Evening Chronicle. He always seemed to have a relationship with Shepherd – and was often Shepherd’s mouth piece to the fans. Not sure what to do about Oliver – but we’ve noticed some of the younger journalists at the Journal and Chronicle are excellent – and deserve their chance.
Well – that’s some of what we think was on Graeme Souness’ mind over the weekend – what do you think are the big problems at Newcastle?
Comments always welcome.