It’s fair to say that former NUFC supremo, Freddy Shepherd was never shy of facing the media.
In fact some would say that his penchant for giving a soundbite here and an appearance there caused more trouble than it was worth. Anyone remember the brothel? The calling Geordie women dogs? The fake Sheikh?
Controversy aside, you have to say he did back his managers, all 15,000 of them that he hired and subsequently fired during his tenure at St James’ Park. Of course it’s all history now after a rather hostile takeover in which Shepherd was pretty much faced with no other option than to sell his shares in Newcastle United.
Naturally this has led to some friction between previous and current owner Mike Ashley with Shepherd often unable to resist having a dig at this, that, or the other when it comes to Ashley’s ownership.
However these next few lines may come as a surprise to most of you. Speaking The Independent Shepherd conceded that perhaps he got it wrong, and that maybe, just maybe, Mike Ashley’s direction for the club is the right one to take. Here goes.
“I am still a massive Newcastle fan,” said Shepherd. “True to say Mike and I have not always seen eye to eye but you’ve got to give him some of the credit for what is happening this season. I think it’s time for the fans to get fully behind him and give him a chance. After all, no one really owns Newcastle because it’s simply a football institution.”
“Maybe he is right in his policy and I was wrong. Maybe we gave our managers too much money to spend in the transfer market. I reckon we spent around £300m on players like Alan Shearer, David Ginola, Les Ferdinand, Tino Asprilla and Michael Owen.”
“Though we never won anything, it was still a great adventure for everyone connected with Newcastle. We were known all over the world. I have a photo of the day they pulled down Saddam Hussein’s statue in Iraq – there was a guy with a Toon shirt beside it.”
“The fans are now clearly behind Alan Pardew and the team, and if they get behind the directors the only way they can go is up.”
I’ve long maintained that the perfect Newcastle United owner is somewhere between what Shepherd was and what Ashley is. A morph between the two would be ideal, but also ugly, and chunky. Could you imagine the careful scouting and research we put into signings now combined with a slightly looser purse string? Could you imagine Ashley’s vision for youth and training facilities mixed in with Shepherd’s penchant for making sure the first team was all fine and dandy?
Unfortunately we don’t live in the perfect world and it is Mike Ashley that we have running the club. In fairness he seems to be slowly but surely making a decent fist of it although at the moment we are still a little bit too short in the first team for me to be really really happy. A defender and a striker along with keeping what we have in January would do just nicely.
However those are my own thoughts. I want to hear yours.
At the end of the day it’s tough to be overly critical given the start we’ve made and the players we’ve signed for the outlay. I really don’t think our recruitment has been beaten anywhere in terms of quality in for cash spent. Grudgingly, Shepherd is right.
If Ashley and Co get the stick for doing things wrong then surely in the interests of balance the things they get right should also be considered?