Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse for Newcastle, Boro and Sunderland, they did – and it looks like there is worse still to come.
Thumped a collective 7-0 over the weekend, only the ineptness of West Brom and Hull can stop all three clubs tumbling down to the Championship next season.
So, where has it all gone wrong?Well, Sunderland seemed to have upset the football odds and pulled off a unique trick of spending millions and millions of pounds yet still have a dreadful team. Roy Keane was responsible for much of that over-spending. The moody Irishman’s aggressive forthright style worked for a period, but when things went wrong he didn’t have a plan B other than to shout at the players even more – something that doesn’t sit well with modern-day players’ over-inflated egos. No wonder there was a mini-celebration (allegedly) when he left.
His replacement, Ricky Sbragia, is the polar opposite. Nice and friendly, but certainly not ruthless enough to manage a football club. After an initial flurry of results (possibly still in celebration of Keane’s departure) the Black Cats have plummeted. A run of one win in ten and with trips to Bolton and Pompey and a home clash with Chelsea to come, things look bleak.
Another one too nice for his own good appears to be Boro boss Gareth Southgate. Well-respected in the game and always polite and well-spoken on camera, you get the impression he doesn’t instill that fear factor into the players. Sometimes they need a rocket up them to get them playing and I think Southgate is too nice to do that. Then again if you are willing to blow £13million on Afonso Alves you deserve what’s coming to you.
I’ve left the Geordies until last for obvious reasons. The club is a circus at the best of times, not helped by Sky Sports News’ determination to whip the fans up into a frenzy, feeding their irrational belief that they are a massive club just because they make headlines.
Sadly, it has been the board’s mistake in listening to said fans too much that has quickened the downfall. A trigger finger culture, often in response to calls from the terraces, has meant the manager’s door has been a revolving one, with successive regimes wasting money on overrated, over-priced players. Alan Shearer was the last resort as he is the only man the supporters will ever truly accept. Sadly for Shearer and the fans, it may have come too late. Oh and don’t get me started on Joey Barton.
The frustrating thing is if you combined Keane’s steely determination, Southgate’s thoughtfulness, Sbragia’s coaching expertise and Shearer’s respect in the dressing room and on the terraces you would probably have the perfect man to carry the three clubs up the table.
Until that man comes forward, they all looked doomed.