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10 February 2006   7:44 PM

Who is the right man?

Who can take Newcastle, an overspent, overgrown and sadly neglected former giant back to glory? Who would want the Newcastle job ahead of the England job?

Who cares? What's important is who gets the Newcastle job. The England job can't rule out all of the candidates.

Assuming that I'm not allowed to bring in Roman Abramovich — not so much as a manager, more just as a cheque book, then I'll run through who I consider the candidates are as follows:

  1. Martin O'Neill has the gift of the gab, and has the charisma and passion we need. If you read the papers — and we all do — he seems a likely candidate for the England job. I remember him as Wycombe Wanderers manager and he's come a long way since then. I was also impressed with him for putting his family first. Plus I've always enjoyed his post-match interviews. One I'd be extremely happy with.
  2. Sam Allardyce is big, strong, and despite an unfortunate resemblance to Mike Bassett has actually done a very good job with Bolton. Little money spent, got the best out of big egos, and has a team who will play pretty football against inferior opposition and attempt to out-muscle and out-fight everyone else. Again, if you read the press, a likely candidate for the England job. If you listen to his Chairman, he's not interested in coming to Newcastle. But then his Chairman would say that, wouldn't he? One I'd be happy with.
  3. Chris Coleman. Look, I happen to like the guy, okay? I remember him as a player for Palace, I think he's got passion, and he's certainly done pretty effectively on a shoestring budget. He may not be as lauded by the media as that Paul Jewell or that Stuart Pearce chap, but he's been around for a couple of years now. One I'd be happy with.
  4. That Paul Jewell chap or that Stuart Pearce chap. I'd worry about the relative inexperience, particularly of Pearce. Other than that, they seem to be doing a fine job. Maybe not this time, though, lads?
  5. Gus Hiddink. Well, apart from the fact that the Ronnigan say he's already ruled himself out, and he's the favourite for the England job (yes, as is O'Neill, Allardyce etc), he's got a proven pedigree, he speaks English and he's got a very good reputation. On the minus side, our last Dutch manager wasn't a runaway success. For me, a non-runner as I think he's going to the FA.
  6. Ottmar Hitzfeld. Seemingly a very popular character, given the banner appearing in the Leazes and the Hitzfeld For The Toon website. Having won World Manager of the year twice, the Champions League twice and more than a dozen other trophies as manager, he's got quite an impressive track record. He speaks English, although whether he could understand Geordie or not is maybe another matter. I'm quite happy to give my backing to this campaign. Available. Another one I'd be extremely happy with.
  7. Glenn Hoddle. No, no, you're taking the piss. The Wolves messageboard also seems to think it's because Associated Press got "Roeder" and "Hoddle" mixed up when they announced who was taking over first-team affairs. I really hope that's true. What a fantastic story. Although I quite like the deliberate hoax story too. As for him coming to the Toon, like the Kaiser Chiefs, I would indeed predict a riot. Not the man for us, sorry. We're more brewery than Drewery.
  8. Big Phil Scolari. Well, if winning the World Cup and handling the egos of the Brazilian national team — as well as the Portugese — doesn't qualify you as big enough for us, then I don't really know what would. His lack of English and/or links to the England job count against him though. If he was learning English and doing well enough at it, then I'd be happy with this man.
  9. Kevin Keegan. He has been talked about, and seriously, by some. I think it's a mistake to go back. Look at Howard Kendall at Everton. A huge success first time round, a teensy bit not so good after that. Keegan did a great job before, but the time was right to step down. Having said that, if we were in dire need of someone with the requisite coaching badges to tide us over until the end of the season, then I'd happily have him back on a temporary basis. Just not permanently.
  10. Alan Shearer. No experience, no coaching badges, no chance. Sorry Al, you've been a great servant to the club but despite everyone who doesn't know the first thing about football wanting you to be the next man, it just ain't going to happen. I would ask you one favour though. Let the new guy make his own space. If he wants you on the coaching staff, fine. If he doesn't, because he's worried about your influence (and lets face it, like it or not, you are influential), then back off and let the man do his job.

In short, it's OOO for my first choice. Ottmar Or O'Neill.


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