Date:Thursday December 9 2010
A cloud of depression has descended over Tyneside with the most underwhelming appointment since Souness. Ashley has done it again, following up the appointment of Joe Kinnear two seasons ago with somebody else out of work, and with apparently little hope of finding a job elsewhere.
Pardew`s record does include 2 promotions, Reading to the second tier, and West Ham precariously to the Premier League via the play offs. He did after all have five attempts at getting into the Premier League, failing at Reading, failing twice at Charlton before leaving them in a relegation position from the 2nd tier, and with a worse Premier League record than Hughton had, also leaving West Ham in a relegation position.
Hughton has the highest win ratio and lowest loss ratio of any permanent manager in Newcastle history, has the highest transfer surplus, is the first to go through a season unbeaten in all competitions at home, has developed a home grown talent into an England shirt (the first since Keegan) as well as two other teenage internationals, been the first manager to obtain promotion in the first season after relegation.
Last summer, Chris Hughton faced a difficult cash situation. During the Championship campaign, Ashley has subsidised the club with further loans. The more hardened Newcastle supporters might point out that this was a situation of his own creation.
It was suggested that guarantees had already been made for the income derived from transfer installments from significant sales. These include the likes of Milner, Bassong, Martins and to a lesser extent, Duff and Beye, with owen and Viduka out of contract.
A Hughton inspired return to the Premier League has generated a significant increase in revenue, potentially to over £100m this season. Wages were reduced from a high of over £70m to around £40m at the start of this season. Ashley is known to want to finance signings from current revenue streams, rather than the previous system of "capital" expenditure, or funding from future revenue streams.
Put quite simply, from having little spare cash in the summer, there could be as much as £20m in the pot, as well as an overdraft facility, to be made available to the new manager.
It might be a clue to the thinking of the club`s hierarchy that Newcastle were the only club to submit their Premier League squad list in the order of players` contract renewals. Steve Taylor`s has been the highest profile contract that is up at the end of this season.
The immediate concern is which players who had been supported by Hughton in those difficult times will now want to leave. The strength of Hughton`s legacy is in the attractiveness of the squad to other Premier League clubs.
Already, Enrique has allegedly been tracked by Spurs, the newest England international Carroll wanted all around the country, Steve Taylor, contract rebel, also a long term target for top clubs. Jonas may be in Liverpool`s sights with a host of other saleable assets.
Timing suggests a hidden agenda by the board. New long term contracts have been given to promising younger players, some of which were soon to be out of contract. Tim Krul and Nile Ranger have been tied down for 5 years under a popular coach. Mike Williamson is added to that list. Was this to keep them for the long term, or merely to ensure a decent price?
We also have the enigma of Joey Barton. It was widely reported that Ashley wanted to offload after his early morning assault led to an inconvenient conviction. At the time Keegan rightly made a strong case for the player`s rehabilitation, only for perceived violent tendencies to resurface under Shearer when sent off at Liverpool, and most recently t St James` against Blackburn. There may be more to his mystery injury last weekend.
Ashley is also known to want to change the wage structure. Contracts due in 2012 include long serving Harper and Ameobi, with the high earning Smith and Barton, other older players in Lovenkrands and Campbell, the younger Guthrie, new internationals Kadar and Vuckic.
Also in 2012, after recent test cases, the likes of Jonas, Coloccini and Nolan will be in a position to buy out their contracts, diminishing their value in the market place.
Ashley`s plan clearly involves restructuring the squad, and was obviously unprepared to do so with Hughton at the helm. In Pardew, he has a man with a close relationship to Chairman Llambias. Hughton was an honourable man who stood up for his players and had that loyalty reciprocated. Pardew`s loyalty will be to Llambias, after all, he will not get much support from the Tyneside public.
So there we have it, a manager with a big job to do. The January window will provide some cash to bring in new blood. Out with the old and in with the new. Players who have supported Hughton in the press may be the first to feel the backlash, but if they go, they will be welcomed back by the Geordie public.
We can expect Pardew to act quickly, after all, being friendly with Llambias, he will have had plenty of time to identify his targets. Perhaps, having managed Tevez and Mascherano at West Ham, we can expect to see more of the sort of deals that brought Gonzalez to Newcastle. Maybe, just maybe, the Wise, Jimenez, Vetere connection is not dead after all.
Just a few tips to Alvin Peardrop following his press conference - if you are going to undermine the previous manager, please have the respect to get his name right, Newcastle is a city, not a town, and no, we are not taken in by your Premier League record of one club down, and one left in the clutches of relegation.
If you think you have five and a half years to up your game, you haven't. If you are meeting the players tomorrow, you have to up it now.
Date:Thursday December 9 2010
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