Although we had a load of old guff about the likes of Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger coming to United, that predictably turned out to be garbage. Men like Wenger and Mourinho wouldn’t demean themselves by working for a man like Ashley.
Most of the talk about Rafa’s replacement has now shifted to what might be regarded as up and coming coaches who had previously glittering playing careers – step forward Patrick Viera, Steven Gerrard and Mikel Arteta. Reading between the lines, Ashley appears to have oscillated back from having a manager who controls all the playing side of the club to a more European model of a coach who prepares teams for games, selects the team, decides the tactics and probably not much more than that. That has worked well as a model for some clubs on the continent but the experience in this country has been less successful.
However, to adopt a model such as that would require a club to have a substantial infrastructure around it, including a Director of Football and as everyone knows reading this, we don’t have any of that stuff. Then again, its not beyond the realms of possibility for Ashley to pull Graham Carr back into the fray from his Saga Holidays or put a bolt of electricity through Joe Kinnear or well, just for the frisk, give Dennis Wise the gig. If Carr did make a return we can expect more signings from the Sports Mondial agency (er, well, only signings from the Sports Mondial) and a scouting itinerary that doesn’t stray from the Eurostar route.
I might be reading through the lines somewhat but Patrick Viera appears to be the leading contender for the United bed of nails. Viera might have been a better option before Charnley went large with Steve McClaren, who to no-one’s surprise crashed and burned whilst getting the club relegated. How Charnley is still there to make another appointment is staggering really. Only at Newcastle United.
So, what’s in it for Viera? Or Gerrard? Or Arteta?
Plenty really. The United gig, despite Ashley, offers an opportunity to use our club as a stepping stone onto bigger and better things. I’ve no doubt all three will have clocked Frank Lampard return to Chelsea and will have aspirations to do the same at the top clubs with whom they are most closely associated. Neither are currently at clubs which provide them with that platform really. Newcastle United offers them the opportunity to establish their coaching credentials and ability to work within difficult circumstances, polishing their media images and developing contacts within the game. If they do well, they will move onto bigger and better things but if they bomb, well, its Newcastle United under Ashley and they will be offered other opportunities at proper clubs elsewhere. Its a no-brainer.
Whoever is successful from that trio (if it is indeed one of them) will however have to reconcile themselves to be being shafted every transfer window and occasionally wondering who players are when the turn up for pre-season training as was the case with Riviere and Alan Pardew in those heady days when Carr was attempting to scout and recommend players but often being ignored. They will also have to be prepared to be pushed in front of the cameras to answer questions Ashley and Charnley should face but they can expect no sympathy from a support which is bitter, angry and on the point of rebellion. Maybe they should ring a few people up before they sit down with Lee Charnley and listen to the second-hand lies that have been spun to Rafa, KK, Chris Hughton and to be fair to him Alan Pardew.
Then see if they are still interested.