Newcastle United fans are asking themselves this question about Mike Ashley
Is Mike Ashley trolling Newcastle United fans?
Some on Tyneside think so after the latest revelations about the club’s search for a manager to replace Rafa Benitez.
Supporters had reacted badly to the news that Steve Bruce was the club’s No1 target. It turned out that Ashley’s first choice was Sam Allardyce, the manager he sacked in January 2008. Allardyce, however, doesn’t go back.
Speaking to Talksport, the 64-year-old said: "I was very flattered that I was considered, but it's that thing – don't go back. I had a think about it, and a quick look at the situation, and thanked them very much, but (it's) not for me.”
Allardyce wouldn’t have been a popular appointment. Corbridge-born Bruce would be a hard sell, despite being a boyhood United fan.
And this brings me back to one thing Benitez repeatedly said during his three-year tenure. The team, he would say, is so much stronger with the fans behind it, especially at St James’s Park.
“The fans behind the team, the players together – this belief gives you more chances to get the points,” said Benitez.
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Many fans now believe the club will be relegated, and Bruce will be at a disadvantage before a ball is kicked. Yes, some fans will give him a chance, but Bruce, a hugely-experienced manager, would be an unpopular appointment with many supporters. That’s a fact.
A boycott is planned of the Arsenal game next month, and some fans have cancelled their season-tickets.
It’s been reported that the club’s hierarchy are looking for a manager with Premier League experience. Bruce has that, having managed four clubs in the division. In total, he’s taken charge of 392 Premier League games and won 110 of them.
Allardyce has taken charge of 512 top-flight games. His teams have won 174 of them, and he’s never suffered a Premier League relegation.
However, experience in the division shouldn’t be a prerequisite for the job. Look at Watford’s recent record of managerial appointments. Quique Sanchez Flores, Marco Silva and Javi Gracia were managerial newcomers to the Premier League, yet they prospered. Gracia’s record, in particular, is remarkable.
Watford, at least, have a plan. Does Ashley have one?