IAN LADYMAN: The Newcastle job is NOT as attractive as it seems

IAN LADYMAN: The Newcastle job is NOT as attractive as it seems… just ask Mark Hughes! Welshman was the stepping stone at Man City and history could repeat itself at St James’ Park

  • The Newcastle job is not as attractive as it seems despite Saudi Arabia takeover 
  • Steve Bruce’s job hangs by a thread following the club’s change of ownership 
  • The Magpies have been linked with a host of exciting names to take the job
  • However, the incumbent could be a stepping stone for greater things 

Antonio Conte, Roberto Mancini, Brendan Rodgers, Eddie Howe, Rafael Benitez, Graham Potter, Jose Mourinho, Roberto Martinez, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard.

They are just 10 of the names linked with the Newcastle post. Maybe Amanda Staveley and her friends in Saudi Arabia will give the job to all of them. They could probably afford it.

More prosaically, the truth is whoever gets the job as Steve Bruce’s replacement will not be the lucky one. No, the good fortune will belong to the bloke who walks in two or three years down the line.

The expected vacancy at Newcastle United is not as attractive as it would first appear

In saying this, I think back to September 2008 and the day Manchester City passed into the ownership of Sheik Mansour of Abu Dhabi. That morning I sent a text to one of Mark Hughes’s coaching staff suggesting he had just won the lottery.

‘Yes,’ he replied. ‘All we have to do now is win everything.’

And that is the nub. It was back then in Manchester and it is now in Newcastle. Staveley has already spoken of taking things steadily and the new owners of City said a similar thing.

The only problem is that football’s definition of time is different to everybody else’s. So Hughes got 16 months before he was binned and looking back now you can identify him as a stepping stone.

Steven Gerrard (L) and Brendan Rodgers (R) are among the big names linked with the job

However, the incumbent could be a stepping stone, as was the case for Mark Hughes at City

There were flaws in his reign but he handed Mancini a squad that included Vincent Kompany, Pablo Zabaleta, Gareth Barry, Carlos Tevez and Nigel de Jong. Mancini developed all of that and won the Premier League two-and-a-half years later.

The question for Newcastle United now is this: who will they persuade to be their stepping stone? That is not how the job will be sold. The selling points will be the massive salary, a great city, huge fan base and pots of money to spend on players.

Nevertheless any manager of experience will look at the task ahead and see it for what it is — namely a project of evolution that could easily take five or six years. And how many managers in the Premier League ever get that?

If Newcastle were, say, Everton or Leicester City, then the job would be more palatable. Look at those squads and you can at least identify a base from which to build a route to the top four.

Amanda Staveley has said the new owners will be patient but time is valuable in football

Look at the Newcastle squad and what do you see? Absolutely nothing. Not one footballer who you can imagine playing for a really top European club.

Steve Bruce’s squad have two decent goalkeepers and some potential in Joe Willock and Allan Saint-Maximin. And that is it. They are second bottom of the Premier League table for a reason.

Given that being rich offers no immunity to the mistakes that will inevitably be made in the transfer market — City made many in the early days — it is not overstating things to suggest that Newcastle may require six windows to even think about Europe.

Newcastle’s squad are a distance from challenging for Europe and needs heavy investment

It is an undeniably fascinating prospect and will be riveting to watch.

But it is some job and that is why the first man to have a go will, in all likelihood, end up as the fall guy.

Conte? Mancini? Rodgers? I would be absolutely amazed if it was one of them.

The first thing Newcastle need is a manager to keep them in the top division. It would be a start.

Ranieri’s modest career not encouraging for Watford 

Claudio Ranieri’s appointment at Watford was a headline-grabber but the truth is much of the Italian’s career has been modest. His Premier League title win with Leicester is the outlier in all of that.

Watford — 12 managers in the last decade — have very set ideas about where they wish to go.

It will be a huge surprise if Ranieri takes them there.

Claudio Ranieri’s modest career means it will be a surprise if he succeeds at Watford

No time to be trigger happy 

Post-pandemic football beneath the Premier League is even more challenging than before and a look down the pyramid finds good men struggling.

Mick McCarthy and Cardiff are at the wrong end of the Championship. Simon Grayson and Fleetwood are just outside the relegation zone in League One. Nigel Clough’s Mansfield sit 21st in League Two.

None of these clubs were able to spend significantly during the summer, but such is the nature of the modern game, the owners and chief executives in South Wales, on the Fylde Coast and in Nottinghamshire may already feel they have a choice to make.

A host of EFL clubs will be mulling over their options but let’s hope common sense prevails

So do they succumb to the panic or do they take a look at the calibre of the men they hired, their records and indeed their work last season at a time when their clubs really needed them?

We await common sense.

England a step behind top two 

Aside from Italy’s play-acting and surrounding of the referee in their defeat by Spain, the finals of the UEFA Nations League were a superb watch.

Both semi-finals were fantastic games.

Currently the likes of France and Spain look a step above England in quality. I thought they were the best teams in Euro 2020 and that view has hardened now.

The UEFA Nations League action shows England are slightly behind the top countries

Proof, then, that England still have work to do ahead of the World Cup.

Equally, Gareth Southgate’s team are at least in the conversation now and that in itself is heartening.

Three Lions’ stars silence on Qatar is deafening 

Less than 14 months to go to the World Cup in Qatar and still not a word from Harry Kane and Co about the abuse of migrant workers during construction of the tournament infrastructure.

Manager Gareth Southgate says his players — still committed to the Black Lives Matter message — need to be informed on the matter. That is only right but it is also the case that they have had plenty of time by now to do the required reading.

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