How Not To Run A Football Club

Congratulations Mike Ashley and Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson on showing everyone how not to run a Premiership Football Club over the last 48 hours. Both of them have shown incredible levels of naivety in their experience of how to support a manager, keep the fans on side and lose all the good faith they’d generated by selling players behind the backs of the men they apparently employ to run the football teams they own. Ashley, especially has been very keen to show just how much one of the proletariat he is by sitting with the fans, drinking pints in 13 seconds and wearing a club shirt in all possible photo opportunities. I doubt though that come Newcastle’s next match he’ll be as keen to put himself amongst the St James faithful for fear of being lynched. Making your manager look foolish is never a good move, especially one as principled as Kevin Keegan.

Sure Keegan gets stick for some of his knee-jerk reactions to events but no-one can call him a fool for his stance over the last few days, seeing Milner leave after saying he had no intention of letting him go and then discovering that Newcastle’s board had agreed to let both Joey Barton and Michael Owen leave before the transfer window shut. All 3 are players that Keegan has supported and protected since he rejoined the Geordie’s in January. By 11am yesterday morning, almost everyone was talking about Keegan being sacked by the board after a furious row over the potential sales, which he blocked and no-one at Newcastle was available for comment. 7 hours later, the Newcastle board released a belated statement saying they had not sacked him, he was vitally important to the clubs future and how the valued everything he had accomplished since his return.

So why sell players behind his back, fetch in second rate replacements, dilly dally over contract renewals and employ inexperienced people to deal with transfers. I do feel sorry for the Newcastle fans, sometimes they get a little ahead of themselves with the we’re a massive club statements but they don’t deserve this at all. The only benefit I can see is Mike Ashley couldn’t afford to buy Tottenham, which as a Spurs fan he had looked into what was required and realised he couldn’t afford it. Thank god. The fans need someone to come in and buy him out because I don’t see the relationship ever being the same between Keegan, Wise and Ashley. Somethings gotta to give and I think Mike Ashley will not be looking forward to the reception he’ll receive in the next game, a massive home game against Hull City.

At least Ashley will be happy to hear about Alan Curbishley quitting West Ham United, it’ll take some of the back page headlines away from the Toon. Poor old Alan, he got his dream job when he replaced Alan Pardew in 2006, a life long Hammer, he’d waited for this opportunity throughout his managerial career, kept them up on the last day of 2006-2007 season, mostly thanks to Carlos Tevez’s incredible displays in the run in and the FA’s complete bottling of the illegal contract saga. He was then given a massive war chest to spend, fetching in expensive recruits such as Ljungberg, Dyer, Parker, Bellamy and Faubert to add to his January recruits of Ashton, Neill and Upson.

12 months later, a similar situation has arisen as at Newcastle, the board have been flogging players against his wishes, to clubs who West Ham will feel they are at least the very equal of. When your board sell two players to Sunderland that you want to keep, it puts you in a position of principle and make no mistake about what Curbishley has done today. Some people would have shrugged their shoulders and simply took the money and carried on through the motions but Curbishley wasn’t one of those people. He was distraught at what had happened and has resigned because he felt his position had become untenable. I applaud his principles and his guts to walk away from a job he clearly loved. Whilst his relationship with the fans had deteriorated over recent weeks, they’d still made their best start to a Premiership season in 9 years and a good chance of improving on their final position of tenth last year.  Chairman Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson has said that the parting of the ways was the best for both parties, but I think West Ham are in for a long year now. It will be extremely interesting to see the reception he receives at the next home game for the Hammers, ironically against Newcastle on September 20th. Slaven Bilic is heavily tipped to replace Curbishley, but I’ve also heard Paulo Di Canio could be a shock candidate. Looking at recent events, nothing would surprise me at Upton Park now and how the fans and the players deal with this could be crucial and both teams could be in for a very long season.


  1. patrick September 3, 2008
  2. The Gaffer September 3, 2008
  3. Phil McThomas September 3, 2008
  4. Segedunum September 4, 2008

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