Well I wasn’t going to write anymore about the developing situation at Newcastle U but it just gets murkier doesn’t it? Last night they got thumped again by Arsenal. Even the cynical introduction of serial aggressor Joey Barton couldn’t inject any spark into his team’s performanace. On the upside he didn’t get arrested. At least they could unveil new appointee Dennis Wise whose title is Executive Director (Football). This morning’s reports quote Keegan as saying that Wise reports into him. Well I’m not sure Kev. They’re paying him something close to £1.5m pa by all accounts (my earlier estimate was way short of the mark) to work 2 or 3 days a week in London. How he must have struggled over the decision whether to stay at Leeds or take up that offer.
Plus he gets two assistants of his own, the increasingly influential Tony Jimenez (Vice President, Player Recruitment) and Jeff Vetere (Technical C0-ordinator). What this looks like to me is that Mike Ashley has decided that:
– after being stung by the cost of inheriting and shedding the Allardyce backroom battalion, he won’t allow a manager ever again to bring in a coterie of close assistants;
– Keegan’s been out of the game for 3 years and hasn’t watched a game in yonks so he has no close grasp on players who might be worth taking a punt on. His role is to galvanise the supporters and simply to coach/pick the team;
– Keegan’s appeal as a player recruiter is not what it was (witness the rejections by Woodgate, Barnes et al already) and he cannot be trusted with transfer policy – this will now be managed by Wise using Jimenez to close the deals and Vetere to set up and run a first class scouting system. Wise will also set up the Academy system. These guys will report to the Board not Keegan and will remain there whoever the manager is, assuming they deliver of course;
– I guess Keegan will be allowed to specify what he wants player-wise (which is why he believes he directs Wise) but that’ll be it.
It’s a model copied from the set-up at Tottenham and the ties between Ashley/Mort and former Spurs Director Paul Kemsley seem very strong. It looks like he’s been advising the Newcastle Board on this. Of course Wise also has close links with his former assistant and team mate Gus Poyet who is now the number 2 at Spurs.
What does all mean for little Kevin? I think increasingly he’s going to be seen as a short-term appointment to excite the fans, get them off Ashley’s back and hopefully to inspire the team as he did last time. It’s not going to work of course and Shearer’s reluctance to join him as a No 2 -it’s No 1 or nothing for him – speaks volumes. I thought Keegan might be there for 11 months tops when the appointment was made. I think now he could be out at the end of the season, if not before as they slowly sink towards the relegation mire. Little Kev should beware the Ides of March and his replacement by big Al to rescue the Toon and lift the foggy gloom. I can feel another Hollywood blockbuster coming on.