How new owners weathered a turbulent first month in office – Football Sport

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Howe was named Newcastle boss on November 8th

By the time Paulo Fonseca finished his third executive interview at Newcastle United, he must have been sure he got the job.

Yes, some of the questions weren’t what he expected – some were about the fans, some of his relationship with the media, and not many were football specific so coaches can explain how to improve teams.

But that wasn’t overly worrisome – more than one person involved in chats with Newcastle has said that questions to managers are more like those of fans than those of officials at elite clubs.

But while Fonseca’s talks were over, the process was far from over.

His potential employers had one final round of interviews with the other remaining candidates, Eddie Howe and Unai Emery.

Then, before that could happen, Fonseca was told that the club would be heading in a different direction. On the weekend of Newcastle’s 3-0 home defeat by Chelsea, news got through that the job was not his and it was no longer needed. The new owners of the Magpies had their husband – it should be Villarreal’s former Arsenal boss Emery.

Except, of course, that no deal was struck and the events of the following days so confused Emery that he lost his chance to take over one of the richest clubs in the world.

It was an example of how Newcastle’s new owners have had a tumultuous month since taking over Mike Ashley in a barrage of publicity and no small controversy.

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In a club interview last week, Amanda Staveley – the woman who ran the takeover and partner – described her first month at St James’ Park as “quite a stressful one.”

“Every 24 hours every day except a few hours of sleep,” she said, considering the time pressure and commitment required.

“It was exhausting and exciting, but the reception was so extraordinary and special. We don’t want to let anyone down. One of the things is to communicate to the fans that if we make mistakes, we’ll be quick to admit” them and bring them Things alright. Very challenging five weeks, but very rewarding. “

And there have undoubtedly been mistakes.

Almost exactly a month passed between the completion of the Saudi Arabia-backed £ 305 million takeover of the club and the November 8 announcement that ex-Bournemouth boss Howe would succeed Steve Bruce.

But the news also came well over a year after sources close to the new owners announced that a deal was imminent. That turned out to be premature and the future owners at that time backed away.

The deal didn’t go through, but the delay meant Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), financier Staveley, and the Reuben brothers had time to plan.

Yet once in position there was no immediate removal of the manager. Only allowed to go on for one game, Bruce took over his 1,000th game, a 3-2 loss to Tottenham, and previously told journalists at a press conference that they deserve “a slap” for reporting he would be sacked .

But these stories had substance – here too the briefings turned out to be imprecise, at least after a few days.

When Bruce finally left on October 20th, the manager search – which might have started much earlier – really started. It was going to be tedious, however, and there didn’t seem to be any clear direction, despite all the time that had passed since the owners first knew a deal was possible.

Staveley and their new owners were greeted with enthusiasm when they took part in their 3-2 home loss to Tottenham on October 17th, Bruce’s last as Magpies manager

They landed on Howe, of course, but via a detour. Staveley then spoke of the former Bournemouth manager being “the perfect fit”. But he wasn’t the first choice.

That was Rafael Benitez – but it quickly became clear that he would not leave Everton.

Staveley and husband Mehrdad Ghodoussi turned their attention to others, with Emery topping their list.

Emery showed real interest in the job and Newcastle was convinced they had her husband. Again, there were widespread reports in the media that Emery was about to be appointed and the deal was nearing completion.

But it wasn’t, and the briefings had once again proven unreliable.

On November 2nd, Emery was preparing for an important Champions League game with Villarreal and asked to be left alone to focus on that game. But as the kick-off approached, those reports became more definitive – this would be his last game against the Spanish team. Further briefings.

These leaks made life difficult for Emery. And if that was the way to do business, was that a suitable work environment? Emery felt inappropriately pressured.

His son, the Villarreal players and Fernando Roig Nogueroles – the owner’s son who is in charge of day-to-day operations – all told him to stay, the latter on the pitch after beating Young Boys and then around on a phone call 1 am.

The decision was made and announced by BBC Sport just hours after Villarreal’s game ended.

It was an embarrassing turn of events for the new owners of Newcastle, but an indication of what could be generously termed naive or, less benevolently, a lack of understanding of how these processes work.

The role of Lee Charnley, Managing Director under Ashley, also creates some confusion. Why was he on video calls with candidates or their representatives when his own role was and is unclear? Why wasn’t a new CEO appointed?

The answer to the first question is at least that Charnley stays in his position and hopes he will stay.

And that illustrates one of the problems the club is facing. There is an old structure that needs to be reviewed and possibly broken down while a new one is being implemented at the same time.

As business goes on, games will continue, the January transfer window looming.

The club chose Atletico Madrid defender Kieran Trippier and did so before Howe was selected. So who is making this call? There is no football director and at that point there was no manager so whose vision is that?

To their credit, the new owners are open about their mistakes. They made private apologies for mistakes they accepted. They know they need to improve, but it’s just beginning and a transition period. That’s what Staveley said last week.

When Howe caught the eye – the owners had previously either considered, considered, or offered an offer to Benitez, Fonseca, Emery, Roberto Martinez, Lucien Favre, Joachim Low, Xavi and Antonio Conte as part of their long search – the caretaker Graeme Jones was left in the dark.

He would face Brighton on November 6, a 1-1 draw that meant Newcastle had the longest winless start to the season in history.

What caused the delay in deciding on the right candidate? It was revealed that data was at the heart of Newcastle’s management decision-making process, which Staveley referred to last week.

“We, and PIF in particular, are a very process-oriented organization. One thing we’ve learned in football is that things move incredibly quickly,” she said in her club interview.

“We met and spoke to Eddie a while ago. We actually talked about his appointment when Mike [Ashley] was running the club. But we had to search the market thoroughly to find the perfect fit, and Eddie fits perfectly. We couldn’t have imagined a better coach, he’s so dynamic.

“One of the things when we analyze a lot of managers is analysis and data. He has done so well in all media.”

In addition to this reliance on data beyond other football criteria, negotiations for Howe’s assistant also resulted in his appointment being delayed. One case involved less than £ 200,000.

That sent a mixed message to the market – aren’t you the richest club in the world? Some sources take this as an indication of what could come, especially if the club is relegated, and others believe it was a smart way to reduce expectations for players and managers.

The Reuben brothers were offered the support of a network of experts in order to make better decisions and better understand the processes of football. The club reviews how things are done and seeks to improve.

It’s been a challenging first month or so with multiple false starts. Do you finally have the right man? Does it matter at all unless they can get the structure right in the short term?

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