Where Newcastle went wrong – and could go right

When my client Alan Smith signed for Newcastle United just under two years ago, nobody mentioned relegation.

We were sold a very different dream, and very convincingly too. We'd been promised Europe and we believed it might happen.

It didn't. Two seasons later Newcastle are relegated, in a total mess, saddled with a huge wage bill and facing serious financial questions.

The fog is on the Tyne and nobody's smiling; there's not even the cheering sight of Gazza dancing about in a dodgy shellsuit.

But despite the comparisons being made to Leeds United, it might not all be bad news for the Toon Army.

"That's another fine mess I've gotten into"

Let's go back to 2007, when Newcastle were just an underperforming top-flight team that was still hoping to be everybody's second favourite club – rather than many people's favourite joke.

They had just been bought by billionaire shopkeeper Mike Ashley and in Sam Allardyce had appointed one of the most respected managers in the league.

There was going to be an overhaul of the playing staff, the coaching staff and the medical staff. Most importantly, there was going to be a totally new mentality. This all started with gusto and the changes began.

The change wasn't popular, though. Players didn't like the work and fans weren't prepared to put up with the new style of play.

The expensive new regime was not going down well. But surely everybody would realise that a total makeover couldn't happen overnight?

Apparently not. Sam was sacked and the Messiah was installed.

No, not Shearer, Keegan. Mistake No.1. Halfway through a change implementation, do not install somebody with the exact opposite approach to carry it through.

Mistake No.2 came with the appointment – over the Messiah's head – of the “London Mafia.” A team on the slide rarely benefits from the expensive purchase of players that nobody wants or has even heard of.

"Welcome to Newcastle..."

Mistake No.3 was to show even less patience, sack everybody again and appoint a new manager – who by the way hasn't managed at that level for several years and has a heart condition.

Everybody knows that the more managers you have in a season, the worse the team's results. Now, I don't mean to sound insensitive, but could there possibly have been a club more likely to have an adverse effect on Joe Kinnear's condition?

Mistake No.4 saw yet another new manager with more new ideas when there simply wasn't time to make them work. Oh, and no management experience. Result – relegation.

What does the future hold? It's well documented that they have got a huge wage bill (without reductions for relegation) and there are huge commercial ramifications too. No wonder people make comparisons with Leeds.

But I'm going to try to argue that it isn't all bad.

The difference between the Premier League TV revenue and the parachute payments they will receive is approximately £25 million, but £10 million will be instantly shaved off the wage bill by Michael Owen and Mark Viduka running out of contract.

They can save another £2 million plus if they sack Joey Barton, and a couple of sales could mean they might just be able to cope.

If Alan Shearer can manage as well as he played, they could be up at the top of the Championship and still be able to pull in the crowds.

The fans have been starved of victories for so long that they may attend even though it's the Championship.

The board had better hope so...

So it's not inconceivable that Newcastle could bounce straight back leaner, hungrier and far better equipped to do well in the Premier League than they ever could have done had they continued to cling on to survival year after year and never cleared out the closet.

Mind you, before we get too carried away, let's not forget this is Newcastle United...

Read Alex Black's blogs here on FourFourTwo.com. Find out more about his clients at Football First Agency

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