Mike Ashley because he is tight and wants to screw the fans.
Alan Pardew because he’s useless and talks rubbish.
The team because they aren’t good enough and aren’t interested.
But hell I’m used to this rubbish because bitching is what fans do best. I should know I’m a fan myself. But personally I don’t blame the individuals that make up NUFC. I blame two things.
Partly it is the culture of NUFC. We don’t expect anything and have never really achieved very much and that is the norm. Brendan Rodgers going into Liverpool had an easier job in comparison since Liverpool have won and expect to win and Rodgers had to recreate what was there. We have never had it. We nearly had it with Kevin Keegan and would have had it had Sir Bobby Robson come a few years earlier and and stayed a few years more. So it is going to take a manager of world class proportions to transform this club, and they are thin on the ground and why would they come here anyway?
But mainly I blame the English Premier League. The money. FFP. Champions League etc. The league is structured so that four clubs can make serious money by qualifying for the Champions League. Oh and there are some prizes that mean nowt financially but look good. Europa League, domestic cups. Clubs that can stay in the league but challenge for nowt get financially well rewarded, and god help any club that’s relegated. They don’t count anymore.
Soccornomics show that by and large results are dependant upon the spending on squad wages. Not transfer fees, but wages. And any club would be well advised to spend no more that say two thirds of their income on wages. So for clubs with a turnover of £100m that means no more than £60m on wages. Which is what we have done.
Now I would expect these to have grown 2013-14 and rocket next year because of the extra TV money. But even so for us to seriously challenge for a top four spot we would need to at least double our wage bill, if not treble it. And even then we would only be competing on a level playing field and not guaranteed anything.
We would also be running at a significant loss, breaching FFP regulations and lets face nobody is so stupid as to take on that challenge. Least of all an intelligent businessman such as Mike Ashley. And replacing him won’t bring another punter willing to blow all his dosh on a dream. So no I don’t blame Ashley for being tight. Sensible maybe. And certainly he has made mistakes, but where we are is not entirely because of him. I am hoping that he spends some money in this window, but not holding my breath.
Where we are is because of who we are and what we spend and that is the culmination of a long history. We may be in the top twenty clubs in Europe in terms of revenue, but we are only the seventh biggest in England, and that is where we play.
So is it Pardew’s fault? Well on spending I would expect to see us achieve between 11th and 7th as par for the course, so a top five achievement and Manager of the Year shows he is no fool. The following year a relegation battle whilst doing reasonably well in Europe and with no investment until January was a let down, but not unexpected. But this season 46 points from 30 games was a decent return until we sold our most effective player and failed to replace him. So a top five finish and a top ten finish, well with two notable exceptions, you have to go back decades to find a manager who has achieved as much at NUFC. So do I blame Pardew for being useless? Of course not. However, he may have lost the dressing room and the fans, so it may be time for a change. Hopefully his successor will have us playing attractive football whilst we continue to mope around the top ten. A world class manager is too much to ask for. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait decades again for a manager who achieves more.
So is it the players. Well you get what you pay for I suppose. They are not world beaters. Not many would go on to better things, but let’s be fair they have not turned up for the last few games. But if they do move on they will be well paid and without the incentive of an international place to play for they seem to be as apathetic as the fans. However, that is also due to the money being paid in the Premier League. The best league in the World. Well the Bundesliga and La Liga may dispute that, but it is certainly the richest. Average players get phenomenal wages and so who can blame them for not being motivated when they are clearly not the best and unlikely to win anything. Funny thing is in some games they have played superbly and we have looked good, but all too often that has been far from the case.
So what can I look forward to? Well the extra TV money means that we can attract a few better players. But it is not going to close the gap on the big five, so we are not chasing Champions League football anytime soon. Europa League and cup runs would be nice, but they are just a sop in reality. Ask Wigan or Portsmouth. Since Coventry won the FA Cup in ’87 and Wimbledon in ’88 the winners have been Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea six times each, Liverpool four times, and once each for Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur, Everton, Portsmouth and Wigan. Not quite a closed shop but not far off it.
Looking at it coldly and logically and therefore not at all as a fan, more of the same is the order of the day. Replacing Pardew with some other competent Premier League manager – Curbishley, Moyes etc – is not going to achieve anything. Good foreign managers like Bielsa are unlikely to come here but if they did it would be for the short term and the money.
We could hope for somebody better or take a punt on an unknown as is becoming a growing trend these days but the reality is that unless we get someone who can change, and is allowed to change, the whole culture at the club then we are where we are.
That’s why I’m apathetic.