Newcastle United five year plan – Then the reality

Newcastle United five year plan – Then the reality

I heard the term ‘five year plan’ for the first time in a long time yesterday, which brought up horrible memories of the Newcastle United five year plan that NUFC supporters once had to endure.

In 2008, our club was in shambles as Mike Ashley surrounded himself with the unpopular Dennis Wise and no-marks like Jeff Vetere and Tony Jimenez.

Casino boss Derek Llambias had recently been installed as chairman and the ambitious Kevin Keegan (back at the club for a second term as manager) had been quickly sacked.

Yes Man Joe Kinnear was chosen to replace King Kev and all of the above soon became unkindly known as the Cockney Mafia.

Newcastle United were deservedly relegated in 2008/09, then after a good start as custodian in the league, Chris Hughton became permanent manager the following season.

We got promoted back to the Premier League as champions in 2010 and it was around that time that Derek Llambias spoke for the first time about the clever ‘Newcastle United five year plan’ for our club.

After a solid start to life back in the EPL, which included victories over Aston Villa and Sunderland at St James’ Park and an away win over Arsenal at the Emirates, Chris Hughton was ruthlessly sacked in December.

Llambias’ friend Alan Pardew was rushed in to replace him, then at the end of the January 2011 transfer window Mike Ashley approved the sale of our best young player Andy Carroll to Liverpool and even arranged a helicopter to take him to Merseyside.

To say I became suspicious of this “Newcastle United five-year plan” would be an understatement, especially when Shefki Kuqi was brought in as a free agent to sort of replace Carroll.

In the 2011 pre-season, Yohan Cabaye and Demba Ba were added, both of whom were able to hit the ground running in the 2011/12 season.

With Cabaye working perfectly with Chiek Tiote in midfield, Demba Ba began plundering goals freely and with the addition of the phenomenal Papiss Cisse in January 2012, the club finished fifth in the EPL, thereby securing European football.

Mr Llambias now had a new saying and started calling our top performers “purple players”.

‘Newcastle United’s five-year plan’ appeared to be back on track, but a distinct lack of ambition in the summer 2012 transfer window meant Newcastle United endured a desperate 2012/13 season, only recovering by winning their last NUFC away game in safety brought the season at QPR. European Thursday nights were constantly being issued by Pardew as an excuse for poor league form and I was beginning to wonder what the point of qualifying was anyway?

Not a single first-team signing was bought throughout the 2013–14 season, spanning two transfer windows, only loans for Loic Remy and Luuk de Jong.

This will help ensure the relegation battle in the coming seasons.

Alan Pardew joined Crystal Palace in the 2014/15 season and was temporarily replaced by John Carver.

At the end of that season, Ashley gave a rare after-match exclusive where she gushed about “closing stable doors before the horses bolted” in the future.

Steve McClaren became Ashley’s latest scapegoat and Newcastle United were relegated under Mike Ashley at the end of the 2015/16 season.

That good old ‘Newcastle United Five Year Plan’ had been nothing but a smoke screen and our supporters had been tricked.

After a 2-1 home defeat to West Brom last Monday night, it was interesting to read as Sunderland supporters debated the merits of their own ‘five year plan’ which appears to have been drawn up by their director of football, Kristjaan Speakman.

Mackem’s opinion was split 50/50 over whether her club takes her to the garden path and is only content to chug along as a sustained championship club.

They seem to smell the coffee a little quicker than some of us under Mike Ashley.

There are similarities between the current situation in Sunderland and ours about a decade ago, even if we were/are in different departments.

They seem to have an owner who runs a strict ship in Kyril Louis-Dreyfus and their fans are constantly being told the club is now debt free.

Dreyfus also seems to be surrounded by shady characters and shareholders not averse to selling their better players. They recently replaced a manager who promoted them from the third tier after four long seasons.

There is no doubt that Sunderland and their supporters cheered, mocked and rejoiced at Mike Ashley’s chaotic management of Newcastle United.

There are also some Wearsiders who actually thought we didn’t appreciate Ashley enough.

Well, you should be really careful what you wish for because, as the saying goes, “What goes around, goes around”.

Don’t talk to me about “five year plans” anymore. We now have owners who want to get us to the top as soon as possible.


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