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Appointing a legend … not really

The appointment of local lad John Carver will go down well with the Newcastle fans after the southern duo of Alan Pardew and Mike Ashley. I heard that great sage Mark Lawrenson say that with Ashley it’s all about money. Well actually he inherited a Newcastle club in a financial mess which with his acumen he has transformed into a solid business. Is that worthy of criticism? He also appointed club legend Alan Shearer and they were relegated. It was Chris Hughton who had no playing connection with a club that got them promoted. Ossie Ardiles, Kenny Dalglish, legends all, success, (in the recent tenure of Dalglish) no. Yet as I said to an Arsenal friend over the weekend if Thierry Henry threw his cap in the ring he would be a favourite with the fans.

To manage a club successfully is primarily about team building, having a philosophy and tactics that suits the players, being cute in the transfer market, getting on with chairmen. That you played 200 games for the club acquiring legendary status does not mean that you can achieve any of these. In recent years the only person I could think of who was both a legend and successful manager at the same club was Harry Redknapp and that ended in tears.

Speaking to Stefano I asked him if that same clamouring for a legend exists in Italy. He said legends do not come any bigger than Gabriel Batistuta but there is no grassroots swell for him to manage the Fiorentina team, let him be an ambassador if he wishes. He doubted if del Piero would ever manage Juventus or Totti Roma. Guardiola did play and manage Barcelona with distinction but his success at Bayern indicates that he is a very good manager.

No, when it comes to a legend give him a lounge, let him glad hand with supporters who recall his feats, let him spout forth in the programme but keep him away from the dug out.

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About Rex Mitchell

Rex Mitchell is a Brentford supporter from childhood. This has not prevented him having a distinguished Fleet Street career as a sports reporter and later deputy football editor. A widower, Rex is a bit of a bandit golfer off his official handicap of 20 and is currently chairman of his local bowls club. More Posts