Defensively we are shocking; disorganised, without shape unable to communicate and seem to lack the basics when it comes to being organised.
In midfield we show no heart, no bite, no team ethic and seem to have an unwillingness to work together for 90 minutes.
In attack we are short on manpower, quality and experience. We appear shot shy; we play to our weaknesses not our strengths and we lack the kind of service that provides the bullets for strikers to thrive on.
From the bench we seem to be promoting a one-dimensional style that fails to deliver any plan B. The coaches seem unwilling or unable to change matters once the players cross the white line.
We have the busiest treatment room this side of the RVI A&E and have done for the last four or five seasons.
We have a Board of Directors who run the club on behalf of an owner who has abdicated his position and who, with the best will in the world are floundering at every turn; hamstrung perhaps but nevertheless following a business plan that is ill thought out and not fit for purpose in the ever changing Premier League.
The question is, how has it come to this? How is a club the size of Newcastle United in such a perilous mess?Why are the supporters being put through yet another season of such putrid performances? Why is relegation once again a real possibility and who is responsible for what we are witnessing?
The way I look at it the first big problem there is nobody within the club who is taking responsibility because the perception that is permeating through the club is that the absentee landlord doesn’t care. He’s a billionaire gambler and we are simply one part of his business empire and not one that particularly excites him. To him, the club is a means to an end; it promotes his other business interests but isn’t his main interest and doesn’t really impact too much on the success or otherwise of his sports clothing empire. It is an accessory that helps his personal tax situation and gives his company some exposure on tv once a week; but other than that the football club plays no part in his company’s success or otherwise.
This lack of responsibility isn’t just with regard to Mike Ashley but because of the perception it creates, this lack of responsibility filters naturally through all levels of the club. Nobody is there to take on the real responsibility of managing the football club in the round; taking on the issues and working with the teams within to put those issues right. Nobody deals with the issues on a day to day basis. The club is split between Darsley Park, Little Benton and St James’ Park. These separate locations lead to the risk that they operate in chimneys; managing themselves in isolation day to day, but also answerable to nobody but themselves. If nobody is given or seen to be taking ownership from the top then how can the organisation function effectively and within any sort of coherent pattern or plan. Delegating responsibility is one thing but failing to own the outcomes that such delegation delivers is one of the causes of failure in any business and from the outside that looks like something Newcastle united could be suffering from under its current structure and model.
From this comes the questions many supporters are asking themselves, who is really in charge of this mess; who is the disciplinarian at the club. Who is the Rottweiler who snarls and screams when things are out of place; when things are untidy; when tasks are slipping? Who keeps everyone on their toes? Who tours the corridors; checks on the day-to day goings on and instills the discipline? Who looks after the fabric of the club? Who do people go to if they are unhappy; seek reassurance from or look to for leadership? Who makes themselves available; who stands up and takes responsibility? Who is in charge? Who? Certainly not the owner!
Once there is a lack of leadership in any organisation it quickly starts to drift off course. A negativity starts to pervade and can quickly develop into a defeatist attitude and until someone takes charge and takes responsibility the ship continues to drift off course; at first slightly but gradually getting further and further away from its course until inevitably its impact becomes all to acutely evident to everyone
This defeatist attitude manifests itself and permeates like a disease through all levels of the organisation and this is what lack of leadership is creating at Newcastle United; why leadership is so important in any organisation and why I believe that the structure of the club is guilty of much of the problems it is now encountering.
A happy workforce is a productive workforce and a productive worker breeds confidence in their fellow workers. It shows itself in a high level of morale and makes it that much easier for that enthusiasm to pass on those who join the organisation and feel part of something good and special; it forms a bond that is difficult to break and develops a willingness to support each other. All of this is vital when teamwork and working together is the key part of your productive outcome; your performance on he pitch. I remember only three months ago the awe on the face of Gini Wynaldum when he walked through the doors and into the stadium for the first time and I witnessed him getting that same tingle down his spine that I used to feel when I entered the stadium on a matchday. Compare that to his body language when hauled off against Crystal Palace. He looked a drained and dejected soul; lacking in confidence; punch drunk and so off form you wonder if he is the same person that bagged four against Norwich city only a month ago. Whose fault is that? Is it the player himself; his teammates; his coaches, the physios, the chefs, the media department, the groundsmen; the kitman the cleaners; the security men, the coach driver, the Foundation, the supporters, the housekeeper, the wife, the kids? The chief executive, the board of directors? Are they all culpable?; or are they all victims? are they the cause or the effect?
And Gini isn’t the only one. The squad is littered with players showing similar concerns; similar body language. Results across the entire club structure, from development, through u18 to u21 and onto the first team show a mirror image of disappointment.
Much is talked about leadership on the pitch and in the dressing room but that is only part of a much bigger problem and either Mike Ashley realizes the failings, takes ownership and for the failure and provides the structure and resources needed to rebuild and re-establish the leadership mechanics needed or he steps aside and sells up to football people who know what is required to rectify the wrongs both on and off the field.
What is clearly evident is that the club is failing; the current model is failing and failing fast. Drastic action is needed; leadership is needed, ownership of the failings and responsibility for the club as an institution is needed and above all change is needed before it is too late! Only one man can show that leadership and bring about that change and that is the owner.