View from the terraces

Forget titles and star players, Newcastle’s first battle is to avoid relegation

After Steve Bruce’s departure, there’s plenty on the to-do list for the new owners

When the £305m takeover of Newcastle United was confirmed two weeks ago, new non-executive chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan told supporters to “expect ambition”. The new owners were “here to build long-term success for the club” and director Amanda Staveley revealed that the aim is to win the Premier League title. It will “take time”, she said, but “we will get there”. 

Judging by the club’s current squad and league position, the controversial Saudi Arabia-led consortium have “a lot of work to do, on and off the pitch”, said The Independent’s Miguel Delaney. 

In the first match of the new era on Sunday, Newcastle were beaten 3-2 at home by Tottenham - a result that leaves the winless Magpies second from bottom, with just three points from eight matches. Steve Bruce was taking charge of the 1,000th match of his managerial career - and it was his final one as Newcastle’s boss. 

It was confirmed on Wednesday that the 60-year-old had left the club by “mutual consent”. Graeme Jones has taken over on an interim basis, starting with Saturday’s trip to Crystal Palace, and will be supported by the coaching team of Steve Agnew, Stephen Clemence, Ben Dawson and Simon Smith. “The process of recruiting a new head coach is under way and an appointment will be announced in due course,” Newcastle said in a statement.

Right characters needed

They may be backed by the richest owners in football, and linked with the world’s biggest stars, but the north east club are in “real danger” of going down, Delaney added. “That’s even allowing for a managerial change and big signings.” 

Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp agrees that even if the owners invest in new players in the January transfer window Newcastle’s safety is not guaranteed. They need to get the “right characters in the spine of the team”, he said. “This squad right now is one of the favourites for relegation - you can see it in the mistakes they make every single week. A new manager might change it but it’s hard.”

Former Roma boss Paulo Fonseca has emerged as the early favourite to become the next Newcastle manager, The Chronicle reported. Other names being linked with the job include Lucien Favre, Frank Lampard, Eddie Howe, Graham Potter and Steven Gerrard.

The to-do list 

Newcastle look set to enjoy “unprecedented spending power”, said The Observer’s Louise Taylor. But they cannot buy any new players until January and have 11 matches until the transfer window opens. So, what can Newcastle’s owners do to “navigate the coming weeks” and improve ahead of the new year?

First of all, the board must appoint the right manager to replace Bruce. The new boss must be a long-term “project man” keen to undertake a painstaking “rebuilding job”, Taylor said. Re-energising the players by “banishing uncertainty” and deciding on a director of football, playing philosophy and recruitment strategy must also be top of the owners’s to-do list.

The truth is that Newcastle are “one of the weakest teams” in the Premier League and the January transfer window “may yet bring as many problems as solutions”, said ESPN’s Mark Ogden. 

They can forget “headline-grabbing pursuits” of players such as Erling Haaland or Kylian Mbappe - the club must focus on players who will make them better and save them from relegation. “It may not be a glamorous blueprint for a club with ambitious new owners,” Ogden added. “But if they get it wrong in January, Newcastle could be the richest club in the Championship this time next year.”

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