The Newcastle boss has come under fire following a 3-0 thumping against Leicester. Rumours of his exit have intensified but will owner Ashley make a change?
The listless display against Leicester City, in which the hosts had 54% of the total possession but only managed to have one attempt on target, has led to pundits fearing the end is nigh for Steve McClaren. BBC Sport’s Garth Crooks went so far as to call the 54-year-old “out of his depth”.
A crowd of 50,151 booed The Magpies off the pitch at full time and there is a growing feeling that McClaren could be sacked should results not pick up before Christmas.
With the largest television rights deal in history set to begin next season, owner Mike Ashley knows how vital it is that the club avoid relegation and take a chunk of the £5.14bn on offer in May.
Those expecting a change, however, should know by now that Ashley is more than happy to give his managers an extended period of grace in order to let long-term plans fall into place, after hasty decisions did not pan out earlier in his reign.
Mike Ashley’s history of managers
Since purchasing the club in 2007, Ashley has overseen seven permanent managerial changes at Newcastle.
Whilst this track record may sound poor, things have changed in the last five years.
Ashley has demonstrated patience in comparison to his early days, in which collectively, the games managed of Sam Allardyce (24), Kevin Keegan (21), Joe Kinnear (18), Alan Shearer (8) and Chris Hughton (64) still falls a staggering 50 short of Alan Pardew’s 185 matches in charge.
Pardew’s reign lasted from December 2010 until January 2015 and saw the club escape relegation under his control, most notably in 2013. Steve McClaren finds himself in a similar position right now and will take heart from the owners previous decision to stick by an under fire Pardew back then.
Newcastle’s board have often spoken of long-term planning since returning to the Premier League and Ashley clearly feels this involves keeping a steady ship.
Known as an excellent man-manager, blessed with the skill of improving players on the training ground, McClaren was seen as an ideal replacement to the polarising John Carver, who lasted 20 games in what many saw as a caretaker role between Pardew and McClaren.
With Ashley’s funds, the former England manager spent over £50 million bulking up his squad in the summer and has talked further of needing time in which to build a team that can challenge consistently for the top eight places.
Whilst the results have been inconsistent, McClaren has constantly talked of his players showing signs of improving football. The Fulford man has been adamant a change in fortune is coming.
Whether Ashley is still on board with this is yet to be seen but given his train of thought for the past five years, a safe bet would be on McClaren seeing it through to January at least.
January transfer window
Currently The Magpies are teetering above the relegation zone by a solitary point and further investment will be a must in January. It will be a crucial month for the club as they look to solidify themselves in England’s top-flight for next year.
Perhaps it is this window which has given both McClaren and Ashley room to breathe, knowing that mistakes can be rectified with the right investment.
What if it all goes wrong?
Ashley is a businessman first and foremost, someone who has faced relegation with the club before and still returned from the brink of selling.
The Londoner is a businessman who plans for all outcomes. Should it all go wrong and the worst happen, it will be a calculated gamble that he is willing to take, despite what fans may think.
Time will, of course, tell but if history is anything to go by, don’t expect a managerial change on Tyneside any time soon.