Sunday, April 5, 2009

Ryder on the Payroll?

I've highlighted Lee Ryder's bias in previous posts, but his coverage of Shearer's arrival this week has been so pro-Ashley as to be comedic.

To be clear, I think the appointment of Shearer is an excellent move.  Late in the day though it's come, at least it's a positive change that can only improve our chances in the remaining seven games.  For this reason I've avoided pointing out the disparity in Kinnear's thoughts...

“Whatever happens, I will have an input. If I can't do certain things, I will be speaking to players and working at the training ground.”

which we heard even as Sky Sports News had already removed the "unconfirmed" bit of their story about the new manager, and days after Shearer had spent the weekend talking with the owner and Managing Director about taking over.   Whether it was just the left hand not talking to the right, or a brag made while fully aware he was being marginalised wasn't important because Kinnear is yesterday's man (hopefully), and dwelling on his utterances no longer tells us anything about the improvements happening at the club.

But, the response to our potential relegation we've seen (and encourage) in no way excuses the shambolic efforts that have gone on behind the scenes this season, which left us on the brink in the first place.  Lee Ryder of The Chronicle likes to think it does though, his reporting this week has been nothing but a glowing testimony for the people who got us here.  One blog marks Ashley as a shrewd man with a long line of clever decisions behind him...

"Another Wise move from Mike Ashley?"

Sorry , who got Wise the sack?  Mike Ashley has stood steadfastly alongside the poison dwarf for over a year as everyone inside and outside the club told him it wasn’t a workable “system”, and even if it was, an odious individual like Wise wasn’t the man for the role. 

Even in the article that follows that ridiculous title, Ryder states that Wise going was part of the deal that saw Al arrive.  Isn't it Shearer then, that deserves the credit for such a wise move?  After all, we can only assume Wise would still be in a job if Shearer had turned down Ashley’s offer unconditionally.

Personally, I’ve read more into the circumstances of Wise’s departure.  It tells me that although Shearer will work for them, he doesn’t trust those in charge as far as he could throw them.  

In his press conference Shearer told us he accepted the job on Monday.  Sky Sports ran it as a confirmed story on Tuesday, but it wasn’t until Wednesday night that the club confirmed it.  Why?

I think it’s clear that Shearer would not take their word for it that Wise would be sacked.  He wanted a press release that stated Wise was out and that there would no longer be such a role at the club BEFORE he would allow them to confirm his appointment publicly.  He eventually got that announcement, and his arrival was then confirmed within an hour.  Shearer knows how these people work and isn’t going to fall into the same trap that Keegan did.

Ryder didn’t stop there though...

"Shearer's return will keep Michael Owen on board."

How can anyone know that?  Is Owen going to stay with us if we’re in the Championship?  I’d have thought Keegan being in charge of a team that was now safe would be more attractive?  Llambias insists Kinnear will be manager next year, so logically nothing’s changed in terms of Owen's contract decision.

"How many Ashley crictics will change their tune now Shearer has agreed to join up?  His arrival should save Newcastle and while Ashley and Derek Llambias have been battered from pillar to post - where does it leave your feelings on the controverisal duo now?

I think it’ll just be the people you can convince Lee.  Ignoring the fact that you don't spell check your work, there’s only so much Shearer can do with the poor squad he has, built by the system Ashley sanctioned.  

To claim we’re now saved, and can look forward to Premier league football is the kind of sales pitch that Ashley himself would make.  They’re the kind of statements intended to sell season tickets rather than being the informed opinion of a sports reporter worth his salt.

Despite acknowledging, that Shearer was the man who ended Wise's time at the club, he's now started printing retrospective articles claiming it's all been part of the plan

The Chronicle understands Wise had barely spoken with Ashley and managing-director Derek Llambias since before January, with Joe Kinnear assuming a recruitment role during the transfer window.

Lee didn't seem to think it was the case in January though when he wrote this story about Wise negotiating contracts with Butt and Ameobi.  And Joe Kinnear thought Wise was running the show during the window when he said

“As far as I am concerned I am going to keep every single player we have got that I think can contribute to keeping us up in the Premiership.  I'm not going to weaken my chances. The fact is I'm looking to add to the squad. It's as simple as that. I have explained seriousness of situation to Mike Ashley.  That’s in Dennis Wise's quarters. He is the one wheeling and dealing, He is the one selling them.  We’re trying to get funds back in and he is aware of the players I want. We are talking to a lot of clubs.”

This confuses me on so many levels.  He's now suggesting Wise has had no involvement for three months, and had no involvement throughout the entire transfer window.  If we ignore what's been said before and take the retrospective story as the truth (Ray Ryan at the Express did run the story at the time) then our top local journalist either didn't know, or didn't see fit to tell us?  But that's neither here nor there, because if it's true, then whoever messed up the January transfer window so fantastically is still at the club.  Which suggests the celebratory tone Ryder adopts in reporting Wise's departure after a "disastrous" time would seem excessive for a man who wielded little power within the club.  Most shockingly when he relates an event that occured many moons ago, that he chose not to at the time.

I stood outside St James’s Park some months after Keegan’s departure and watched as a fan told Wise what he thought of the situation.  Wise’s laughing-cavalier response to the young Geordie, just yards away from where KK explained to fans why he had sold Andy Cole in 1995, summed up why the ex-Chelsea man was never the right fit for a people’s club like Newcastle United.
Lee wants to lay the blame for all the clubs ills squarely at the feet of Dennis Wise, but whichever way you slice it, Wise was only part of the problem.