United lay down title gauntlet

Manchester United’s destruction of rivals Manchester City may have set the tone for the coming Premier League season. City, who have been tipped by many to win the title, were forced to surrender in the Community Shield on Sunday despite a two goal lead.

While the result underlined the fact that Utd are the team to beat this season it also highlighted their rosy future ahead with youngsters Tom Cleverley and Danny Welbeck both impressing.

With City still to intent on playing defensively – in spite of their embarrassment of attacking riches – and Chelsea very much a work in progress with Andres Villas-Boas trying to trim the years away from an ageing squad, the Red Devils look the team to beat once again this season.

Arsenal transfers frustrate fans

In the summer break Arsenal have made three signings; two of them attacking – Gervinho and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – with the only defensive addition 19-year-old Carl Jenkinson from Charlton.

Obviously, the new faces are not what the Emirates faithful had hoped for. With Arsenal still yet to end their trophy drought serious pressure will be on Arsene Wenger for the first time.

The Gunners are not short of creative midfielders, with Japanese starlet Ryo Miyaichi also gaining a work permit after being on loan at Dutch club Feyenoord last season, so the inability of Wenger to bring in new defensive recruits is even more baffling.

If Arsenal fail to sign two from Phil Jagielka, Gary Cahill and Christopher Samba and still do not improve on their ability at set pieces serious questions will be asked by the fans.

Newcastle sell off the family silver

While Arsenal’s transfer policy is confusing Newcastle United’s seems to be kamikaze. Kevin Nolan has been allowed to leave the club for West Ham, while Joey Barton, arguably the Magpies best player last term (apart from Cheick Tiote) and Jose Enrique could be heading for the exit.

Many of the players that have been bought in such as Yohan Cabeye and Sylvain Marveaux are unproven in the Premier League and their early form will be watched eagerly by the St James’ Park faithful.

However, fans will not be enthused by the arrival of Man Utd misfit Gabriel Obertan. Expect another difficult season on Tyneside.


Toon new EPL villains after Hughton sacking

There are clubs that people love, and some that people love to hate. And with the sacking of Chris Hughton, Newcastle United have cemented their place in the second category.

The treatment of Hughton is another chapter in the sad history of a club that has consistently “underachieved” in the eyes of both the fans and the management.

The last time the Toon managed to engender any feelings of warmth was in the mid nineties, when Kevin Keegan’s hugely attacking side swaggered their way into the Premiership, narrowly missing out on the title in 1995/96, blowing a 12 point lead on the way.

Since Keegan’s resignation, the fans, and the management of the club – even after changing hands – have hopelessly overestimated their worth.

No clubs, even giants of English football like Liverpool and Manchester United, have a divine right to win trophies. The frustration of Newcastle United fans is even more baffling considering they have only won four league titles, the last coming in 1927. Liverpool and United have 18 each.

Maybe 1996 ruined Newcastle in the long-term. Since then they have developed a disturbing habit of ditching managers in the pursuit of trophies, rarely giving anyone enough room to deliver the success they crave.

Ruud Gullit, FA Cup winning boss with Chelsea, was given very little time once Alan Shearer started a dressing room mutiny and Bobby Robson was given the boot despite consistent top six finishes and a run in the Champions League.

Sam Allardyce, while not a popular manager, was only given months at the helm with fans demanding attractive football. The same fans would probably settle for winning football today.

Even Glenn Roeder and Kenny Daglish would have reason to grumble over their treatment.

But, as with many other former managers, illusions of grandeur made sealed Hughton’s fate. Despite bringing them back to the Premier League last season he was always doomed. The fans would have always wanted a bigger name. Even if it was Mike Ashley who pulled the trigger on Hughton.

No doubt that Kevin Keegan and Alan Shearer will be the first names called for by the fans. Even Paul Gascoingne wouldn’t be a suprise. After all they understand the Geordie nation. They have the passion

Massive rebuild needed on Tyneside

Newcastle United fans may have thought that things couldn’t get any worse following their relegation to the Championship.

Deemed by many to be ‘too good to go down’, the Geordies were pipped to the post for 17th place – and safety – by Phil Brown’s Hull City

However, Toon dreams of bouncing straight back could be shattered as the club continues its slide into turmoil.

As recently as this month the future of Mike Ashley as owner of the club has been thrown into doubt, with a number of interested parties lining up the necessary £100m needed to buy the club.

The trouble at board level has left a question mark by the managers role, with Shearer likely to walk away if Ashley retains the reins.

On the pitch, with Newcastle having more than a dozen plays earning huge wages (rumoured to be in excess of £2.5m a year) there will have to be a clearout to trim the wage bill.

And the likes of Obafemi Martins, Jonas Gutierrez, Michael Owen, Mark Viduka, Alan Smith and Nicky Butt will have to be sold the in order to make the savings.

The Geordies will have to recruit a completely new team, and bring through some of its youth players, to form a suitable Championship squad.

To play Premier League football by 2010/11, the club will have to settle its ownership, hire a peramanent manager and completely revamp its entire playing squad.

Maybe the fans, for the first time since the 1950s, the fans have to seriously lower their expectations.

Canny Shearer picks right time to join Newcastle

Alan Shearer has taken up the reins for the last eight games of the season at Newcastle United – and the move is certainly a canny piece of business.

In addition to the reported £1m for the two month spell, and a further £1m if he manges to beat the drop, the Toon legend has certainly timed his arrival right.

I had blogged on his prospects of taking up the helm at St James’s Park in the past and, at the time it was move that would only serve to tarnish hi reputation.

But that has all changed – rather than take the job after Keegan resigned, with the Magpies faithful expecting a comfortable mid-table finish – he inherits a team battling against the drop.

If Newcastle go down – he’ll be a have-a-go hero who inherited the wrong team at the wrong time.

If they beat the drop his messiah status will only rise.

Impatient Newcastle fans the real reason for decline

Interim Newcastle manager Joe Kinnear aimed a foul-mouthed tirade at the sports writers last week but the real people that need a stiff talking to are the Newcastle United fans.

While it cannot be denied that the St James’ Park heircarhy has not excelled itself over the last decade the day the club died was almost fifteen years ago when the Geordies blew a 12 point lead at the top of the Premiership.

Since then Newcastle have not come close to mounting a serious assault on any major trophy – save for the odd cup final defeat – and their fans have not been able to stand it.

Every supporter wants to win silverware but some fans set their clubs realistic goals while others, like the Magpies faithful, are far too impatient.

Almost winning trophies does not give any club the right to automatically challenge for honours but the Georides do not give their managers – or owners – time to settle and build up a team.

Bobby Robson came the closest to builiding a decent squad but was forced out while Allardyce and Gullit, who both came to the club held in high esteem, were not given the chance to help Newcastle flourish.

After Ashley is finally hounded out of the club and the new owners come in they will have to turn the club around as quickly as possible.

Because if one thing is for sure up at Newcastle is that fans want success.


Going back to the future is the wrong choice for Newcastle

This is going to seem like I’m picking on Newcastle but I am not convinced that Keegan is the right man to bring trophies to St James’ Park.

With Big Sam being ceremoniously dumped out of the club on his backside, and Harry Redknapp unable to tear himself away from life on the south coast, the Magpies fans were crying out for a bit of romance – and Ashley and Mort duly obliged.

Buut for all of Keegan’s passion and enthusiasm he is not a technically gifted manager.

While his Newcastle side were entertaining, they were defensively poor and famously surrendered a 12 point lead to blow the league title.

His England team lacked organisation and were bundled out of Euro 2000 in the group stage after a humiliating loss to Romania.

And his Manchester City failed to do anything of note.

To make matters worse the Premier League is ever improving and being in charge of Newcastle the second time round will be much more difficult than the first.

The fact that he has already pleaded for the fans to be patient speaks volumes.

Why Shearer is the wrong man for Newcastle

With Newcastle being turned down by Harry Redknapp and getting hammered 6-0 away to Manchester United their need has never been greater to get a new man in the hot-seat.

The Magpies fans, and Redknapp himself, would like to see former number nine Alan Shearer make a return to St. James Park as the manager, or perhaps omen a dream ticket as Kevin Keegan’s second in command.

But what do the St. James faithful want in a new manager? And how do they want the club to perform?

It seems the next boss has to be all things to all men, while winning games and playing beautiful football.

The one thing a new man at the helm will not have is time.

Despite Rome not being built in day Geordie fans expect Newcastle’s footballing empire to be completed in around 24 hours, while left drooling over sexy football.

How will an experienced manager be able to turn a club like Newcastle United around in less than paltry eight months Sam Allardyce was given in charge?

Alex Ferguson would struggle and Arsene Wenger would find it near impossible.

So what hope for Shearer?

The truth is Big Al is in a hazardous situation. He is idolised at St. James and would have everything to lose if he couldn’t deliver what the Magpies fans crave in a timely fashion and may find his reputation in tatters.

After all, we all remember Glenn Hoddle’s ill-fated return to Tottenham.