There was no such thing as an interim manager for Newcastle really until 1977 when Willie McFaul took charge of a one goal defeat at Wolves between the management of Richard Dinnis and Bill McGarry. The week saw McFaul step up and then step down. Following McGarry’s own departure, Joe Harvey came back to take the side for three games, winning two and drawing one in early September 1980. However, both of these people either had already or in due course would have time in the managerial hot-seat. Cox, Charlton and then McFaul himself took us through almost all of the 1980s to November 1988. There we will begin our real adventure, the history of the interim manager at St James’ Park.
To clarify for this to work I am only including people who were not named as manager or head coach. Alan Shearer isn’t included he was named as manager until the end of the season and took over for nine games. A couple of people do make appearances who did manage us later for longer periods, so Chris Hughton is not included for the Championship campaign.
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Colin Suggett is the first on our list as he bridged the gap between McFaul and Jim Smith. This nine game stint was a first for the club as they truly waited for the man they felt they wanted to take the job. Following a 3-0 drubbing at SJP by Coventry, McFaul was shown the door. Newcastle at that stage of the season had five points, were in nineteenth and had only won once, the previous week at Anfield through a late Mirandinha penalty. So seven league games in, with one win and two draws McFaul was gone. Suggett was an ex-player who had started with Sunderland and ended his career with a season on Tyneside. He had been appointed as a youth coach following his retirement so this was his chance in the top job.
Starting brightly with a win at home to Sheffield United, though a 3-2 aggregate loss, in the League Cup with Hendrie and Mirandinha scoring, Suggett got eleven games. In that time he was knocked out of two cups (League Cup and the Simod Cup) but did oversee two league wins – one at home to Middlesbrough (3-0) and another against Wimbledon (2-1). The team actually ended his league run in charge with two draws (home to Man Utd, away to Luton) preceding the Wimbledon victory. His side only scored in two of his nine league games in charge, winning both! The club picked up eight points from his nine games, but slipped to the bottom of the table. Jim Smith arrived after the Simod exit and Suggett did not manage anywhere else again.
Post Smith’s 1991 departure, the board relied on Bobby Saxton to see Newcastle through only one game before appointing Ardiles. The run to the playoffs in 1990 had seemed to point towards a quick return for Newcastle to the top flight, but by mid-March the club was eleventh on forty-four points. Saxton oversaw a 0-0 draw with Bristol City having previously managed Exeter, Plymouth, Blackburn and York. Saxton had been assisting Smith and Ardiles was appointed quickly.
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There was no further games managed by an interim coach until 1997 when Terry McDermott and Arthur Cox took Newcastle to a 2-2 draw with Villa, United taking a two goal lead through Shearer and a contentious Lee Clark strike. Kenny Dalglish was through the door in time for our next game.
Steve Clarke stayed on after Ruud Gullit’s departure to oversee a game at Old Trafford. Newcastle were somehow level at one each at half time, but a Nicos Dabizas red saw Andy Cole end up with four and a 5-1 win for the Red Devils. John Carver similarly oversaw one game in between Sir Bobby’s departure and Souness’ arrival, we should have seen what was coming as the one day “best coach in the Premier League” managed a routine 3-0 win over a hapless Blackburn.
Next on our list is Nigel Pearson who had two attempts at it. On the final day of the 2006/7 season he oversaw a 1-1 draw at Watford with Kieron Dyer scoring, then in 2007/8 he jumped into the seat Allardyce had left. Somehow we were not leading at Old Trafford at half time, Michael Owen missing a great chance. The second half saw a 6-0 win for the home side, must have been the team talk. Pearson did then oversee a 4-1 FA Cup win against Stoke, as Keegan returned.
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Our final interim manager also had two attempts at the job before getting it full time at the third attempt. Chris Hughton was asked to take over following the shock departure of Kevin Keegan with the club on four points from three games and in ninth. Hughton was in charge of the 2-1 defeat to Hull, which saw huge protests, a 3-1 defeat at West Ham and finally a 2-1 League Cup defeat to Spurs where only twenty thousand fans attended. Following the untimely illness to Joe Kinnear, following a 1-1 draw with Sunderland that left us fifteenth, Hughton was given six games in charge. He won the first 3-2 with Peter Lovenkrands scoring against West Brom, and drew the next game with Everton at home despite a shocking red card challenge from Kevin Nolan in the first half. Only one point more was collected, away at Hull and then Shearer answered the call to come back after a 3-1 defeat at Arsenal.
Graeme Jones is the latest incumbent but it does appear that when the signs are the squad need a reaction, the interim manager is not the one to deliver it. The new owners should be ready to move after Chelsea, as every game between now and January may become must win.
Stephen Ord @smord84