Failure to land Emery exposes cracks in Newcastle’s lofty ambitions
A month on since a takeover from the Saudi sovereign wealth fund sparked scenes of wild celebration at St. James’ Park, Newcastle fans are still waiting for their windfall.
Without a win in the Premier League after 10 games and rooted in the relegation zone, six points adrift of safety, questions are already being asked of the club’s ambitious new project off the field.
Villarreal boss Unai Emery rejected the chance to become the Magpies’ new manager this week, despite a public courting by Newcastle’s new owners and the riches on offer.
The former Arsenal manager was reportedly wary of joining the project in its infancy without a clear structure of how to make their new wealth pay on the field.
“No matter how much noise there was yesterday in another country, within the club there was transparency and loyalty,” said Emery in declaring his intention to remain in Spain on Wednesday.
Former Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe is the new frontrunner.
But the vast difference in playing style and experience between Howe and Emery only serves to highlight the lack of a clear plan.
Governor of the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), Yassir Al-Rumayyan has been named the club’s new chairman.
But they have no sporting director and managing director Lee Charnley remains in his post having been a key ally of unpopular former owner Mike Ashley.
Caretaker coach Graeme Carr looks set to take charge of a third match at Brighton on Saturday despite dismal performances against Crystal Palace and Chelsea since Steve Bruce was sacked two weeks ago.
Newcastle director Amanda Staveley boldly declared in the days after the controversial takeover was given the green light by the Premier League of her ambition to be English champions in the next decade.
Staveley, who took a minority stake in the £300 million ($408 million) deal, has been the public face of the consortium backed by the PIF.
However, she has watched on ashen-faced from the directors box of St. James’ in recent weeks as Tottenham and Chelsea have strolled to victory on the field.
The current Newcastle squad is clearly not good enough to match the club’s new ambitions, but an overhaul in the January transfer window also has risks.
With 10 more league games to come before the window even opens, including clashes with Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United next month, Newcastle could be even more desperate come January.
Panic buying at inflated prices for those players willing to come and roll the dice that they can avoid playing in the Championship next season is an extremely short-term solution that holds no guarantee of staving off relegation.
Chelsea, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain are often touted as the templates for Newcastle to follow.
But they did not have to fend off the fear of relegation in the early days of their surge towards the elite of European football.
Newcastle need a plan that can firefight in the short-term and lay the foundations for long-term success at the same time.
At the moment they do not appear to have either.