Saturday 25 November 2017

Moyes waits for call as free-falling Magpies poised to axe McClaren

Newcastle United 1-3 Bournemouth

Steve McClaren can't bear to watch at St James' Park Photo: Reuters
Steve McClaren can't bear to watch at St James' Park Photo: Reuters
David Moyes Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Luke Edwards

Steve McClaren is expected to be sacked as Newcastle United head coach today, with owner Mike Ashley keen to move quickly to secure the services of David Moyes.

Moyes is the clear frontrunner to take charge, as he has made it known he wants the job, despite Newcastle's perilous league position and the fact there are only 10 games remaining.

That intermediaries have informed Newcastle of Moyes' interest means there looks to be an ideal replacement to come in before the trip to Leicester City next Monday.

Another option would be a short- term contract for someone until the end of the season, with things assessed again in June. This was a topic of discussion within St James' Park when doubts about McClaren first emerged, and Harry Redknapp would be an ideal candidate for such a fire-fighting mission.


Nigel Pearson's name has also been mentioned. He was at Newcastle as Sam Allardyce's assistant when Ashley bought the club eight years ago. Rafa Benítez and Brendan Rodgers are also looking for jobs in England, but it is difficult to look beyond Moyes at this stage.

The Newcastle hierarchy discussed McClaren's position yesterday and Ashley has been advised it is time to replace the former England manager after just eight months.

Managing director Lee Charnley had been desperate to avoid sacking McClaren and would have resisted calls for his head had the defeat at home against Bournemouth on Saturday not been so dreadful.

It was Charnley's decision to appoint McClaren last summer, even though he had just been sacked by Derby County for failing to get them promoted to the Premier League for two years running.

McClaren is keen to remain in charge, despite the air of defeat that hung around him after his side were dismantled by Bournemouth, but the toxic reaction to him on Tyneside over the weekend makes his position look untenable.

Those close to Ashley have urged him to act decisively to give the new manager a chance to save Newcastle from relegation.

Ashley is mindful of the fact that last time Newcastle were relegated, in 2009, he gave Alan Shearer only eight games to reverse a decline that had begun at the start of the season when Kevin Keegan resigned.

It could be argued that Newcastle have also been in decline since McClaren took over, and their record of 24 points from 28 games is their worst in the Premier League era.

Newcastle want to give the new manager enough games to have a realistic chance of improving results, particularly with the derby against Sunderland just a fortnight away.

That game will have a huge bearing on relegation, as their local rivals are directly above them in the table, one point better off.

Moyes feels the Newcastle job is the most appealing challenge available to him as he looks for a way back into football following his sacking by Real Sociedad in November.

Although others have argued the case for former Liverpool managers Rodgers and Benítez, as well as Pearson, Ashley has admired Moyes for several years and tried to get him to leave Everton when Keegan quit in 2008.

Intermediaries acting for the former Manchester United manager made contact with Newcastle over the weekend to inform them of his interest and talks are likely to start in the next 48 hours.

The move for Moyes is not without complications, however, with the Scot likely to ask for between £4m a year in wages, as well as assurances over player recruitment. McClaren was on considerably less.

Moyes would like to have the final say on which players are signed, which would mean Ashley would have to dispense with the management structure he has steadfastly refused to dismantle since he bought the club in 2007.

Given Newcastle's desperation to stay up, Moyes would appear to have a strong hand in negotiations.

But Ashley has been too stubborn in the past to change, which is why McClaren was given the job, as he was happy to be seen as a coach rather than a manager.

The management structure means players are signed by a transfer committee, although in reality Charnley and chief scout Graham Carr have held all the power.


Indeed, one of the main problems for McClaren was that he was not able to sign his own players when he arrived, which meant Newcastle brought in four young players - Georginio Wijnaldum, Aleksandar Mitrovic, Florian Thauvin and Chancel Mbemba - from abroad and they have needed time to adapt to English football.

Although McClaren had more say in January and was key to the signings of Jonjo Shelvey from Swansea and Andros Townsend from Tottenham, he has still not been given the experienced centre-half he wanted eight months ago, a left-back or a striker with a proven track record in England.

While Newcastle flounder, Bournemouth are almost clear of relegation worries.

They dominated Saturday's match from start to finish. They used the ball better, worked harder, knew their roles perfectly and played with the confidence of a side who know they belong in the Premier League.

The win, secured via an own goal from the error-prone Newcastle defender Steven Taylor, and two in the second half from Joshua King and Charlie Daniels, was richly deserved and means Bournemouth have an 11-point cushion to the relegation zone.

Newcastle's only replay came from Ayoze Perez.

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