Paul Merson is a card isn’t he.
The former Arsenal and Middlesbrough star turned Soccer Saturday pundit is no stranger to outlandish theories and nonsensical opinions, and not just when it comes to Newcastle United.
It’s sadly what defines him as a pundit as he is more renowned amongst most football fans for being more of a village idiot style comedy act than an insightful expert.
He brings it all on himself though, and his latest theory crafting on the right manager to usher in Amanda Staveley’s impending new era is an absolute belter!
When asked what he thought of media stories linking Mauricio Pochettino being lined up to replace Steve Bruce he had this to say to the Daily Star:
“Newcastle’s potential new owners will be making a big mistake if they get rid of Steve Bruce immediately.
“Bruce is a manager I rate highly and I firmly believe he should be handed the chance to prove himself in the new era.
“If reports are right that Amanda Staveley’s Saudi backed consortium want Mauricio Pochettino to replace him for the start of next season, then Bruce will probably have to win the FA Cup to stand any chance of surviving.
“I’ve nothing against Poch, who did an exceptional job at Tottenham and will probably succeed wherever he goes. But is he the right man for Newcastle?
“Spurs play a very different game to the Geordies. They play front foot, expansive football in stark contrast to Newcastle under Bruce.
“Invariably, the black and whites had ten men behind the ball, relying on counter-attacks to get their goals.
“It wasn’t pretty to watch but Bruce showed balls in going against his own attacking instincts and realising fairly quickly that Newcastle, with the players he had, needed to keep it very tight to have any chance.
“Don’t forget everyone including the Toon Army were tipping the for relegation back in August following Rafa Benitez’ departure.
“If Pochettino arrives and tries to impose his own cavalier methods on the team, then they face another struggle.
“Of course, all the talk is that Newcastle need a big name boss to attract big name players and while there is a degree of truth in that, it’s naïve to think the five, six or seven signings they need to play that way will arrive immediately.
“That’s why new owners should stick with Bruce at least until the end of next season.”
It isn’t that he doesn’t rate Bruce, it’s the fact he thinks a new coach couldn’t change the style of the team that’s so puzzling.
Of course it’s all hypothetical, but these comments are just ignorant. Ignorant to the players talents, Bruce’s and Pochettino’s ability, and ignorant the very idea of football management.
Like most of the media, Merson seems to ignore the dreadful footballing metrics of Steve Bruce’s team, and the fact nearly every time layer has gone backwards under him, and seems to be of the belief that despite taking a team that finished 13th to…..13th after spending £60m last summer and having been given some quality in January, Bruce has done well to keep us out of the bottom 3 (assuming the season ends now).
A better manager (like Pochettino, or not as good as him for that matter) would be able to have this team playing better football.
Then that brings us nicely on to Merson’s claims of Pochettino’s cavalier style. While the Argentine promotes attacking football, the defensive side of his teams has always also caught the eye.
His Spurs team were widely lauded as the best defensive unit in the league for a while when Walker, Alderweireld, Vertonghen and Rose were stepping out. And what about his claim that Bruce has shown balls in abandoning his own attacking style with these players?
And he calls Geordies delusional.