Ole out, Bruce in? And more mails from conflicted Newcastle fans…

Ian Watson
Steve Bruce and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer prepare for Manchester United's clash with Newcastle.

Could Steve Bruce be the man to replace Ole Gunnar Solskjaer? Also, the Mailbox is still coming to terms with the Newcastle takeover. Get your mails in on any subject to theeditor@football365.com


Ole out, Bruce in
As United are currently on a bit of a rocky run of results, and with the next batch of fixtures not looking too kind to them, could Ole get the sack and be replaced by the soon to be sacked Steve Bruce ?

I know United do like the fantasy of returning legends and all that.
Shiraz, Johannesburg


Disloyal Bruce
Hey, Paul in Brussels, I don’t think it would be unusually hard-hearted to want Steve Bruce to be sacked before having the chance to manage his 1,000th game.

As a player at Norwich, Steve Bruce went on strike and refused to play, in order to force through a move to Man Utd.

As a manager, Steve Bruce has walked out on Sheff Utd (after 1 season), Wigan (after 2 months), Crystal Palace (after 3 months), Sheff Wed (after 5 months, not including the 1 month’s grace we gave him before starting in post, as he had pre-planned family commitments). He also walked out on Hull (after a longer period in charge).

I would love it (love it) if my club took him back on, let him train the players all week (as if he actually does that!), then sacked the (redacted) on the morning of the game.

I’m fed up of all this “he’s a good bloke” shite trotted out in the media. They’ll be telling us he’s a Proper Football Man next.
Mark Lewis (SWFC)


Top ten signings of the Premier League season so far…


Coming to terms with Toon
To establish my bona fides, such as they are: I’ve supported NUFC for half my life, since I first saw them play after moving to England in 1995. They became my *only sports club upon my return the the US, as watching football in England had made watching American football, with its constant, interminable stoppages and ad breaks, too painful to endure.

First things first: seeing Ashley’s back is a source of almost inexpressible relief to any Toon supporter. It is unbelievably exciting to know my club has a chance to reclaim its dignity and heart. I think this is well understood by any onlooker. To now be arguably the richest sports team in the world (it’s not as though NUFC is PIF’s only asset requiring investment) feels like the punchline to a joke I didn’t know I was being told. However silly it might sound, it feels like a reward I earned by keeping the faith alive and the club in my heart through a slide into planned obsolescence and mediocrity that last lasted almost fifteen years.

Whatever legal fictions regarding non-executive chairmanships the EPL accepts, the club is now owned by a man who is inarguably a monster. I hate that this is the guy “rescuing” my club. Besides tickling my racism sensor, watching tea-towel-wearing Geordies celebrate and abjectly thank bin Salman makes my gorge rise a little. And while Amanda Staveley is no doubt an intelligent and accomplished woman and oligarch, I don’t believe for a moment that she cares about the club for itself; still less do I think she has much more than contempt for supporters. Yet I’m seeing her lionized by Geordies who have been desperate for so long, they are unable to imagine any bad consequences to this takeover. It’s hard not to agree with Johnny Nic and others who lament that sport can so easily make people close their eyes to real-life problems.

But here’s the thing: I’ve loved NUFC for 25 years, and for more than half of that time I’ve watched the club circling the drain, becoming more and more mediocre. Under Mike Ashley, I knew – positively knew – that I’d never see my club win anything but a lower league. As fan experiences go, it’s been less than ideal. I understand how for some folks, what makes a change can seem less important than that it’s made. I could wish my fellow supporters were more open-eyed or more ethically minded. But for my part, I finally have hope for my club. I might even have the opportunity that Man City fans (by and large) seized so well: to be gracious in future defeat because each loss might no longer feel like the next step in a death march. I am not going to give that up because an obscenely rich murderer bought NUFC. He doesn’t get to take that from me – from us — especially since none of us could have done anything to stop it.

I hope to spend the next few years nodding ruefully at the criticisms of the club’s owners, calling out their offenses, and madly cheering whatever success we can find on the pitch. Am I selling principle for satisfaction? I don’t know. It’s honestly hard to say. I’ll let you know how after I’ve processed all this and lived with it for a while.
Chris C, Toon Army DC


…As a Newcastle fan I have no control over who buys my club. The government and Premier League do.

But these things I feel confident about.
1. More owners than Mike Ashley would sell their club to Saudi or other despotic owners for the right price ,history tell us this..Some now complaining about the sale, it’s reported, actively tried to sell their club to Saudi. Sour grapes and hypocrisy ,fear of lost revenue perhaps. Pathetic
2. Fans generally from whatever club would feel and act the same way as those in Newcastle.The point is made by others we are nothing special.
3.. Never mind the what about Uber, Disney,Oxford uni etc. Of course no reporters asks a user of Uber about their views on beheading but of course that’s not football.

Yet football and the Premier League clubs other than Newcastle do already have commercial deals with Saudi Arabia and other murdering states. They will continue to do so. Any one care about Chinese Muslims?or Hong Kong democracy? Seeing other premier league’ clubs do deals with devils and nothing is said makes those in the northeast shrug and think here we go again .one rule for one one rule for another. It’s always been this way in the North East.

Of course the irony is now the piracy issue is solved the Premier League and it’s member club’s are happy to sell its product in Saudi and the club’s are all happy to take the money. No questions asked.

Behind this mess what is the cause. Is it in Newcastle no..It’s in the centres of power London where the real decision makers.are.

Is it those in power who didn’t have the moral fibre to say this deal can’t happen because of human rights, murder , discrimination?.Yes

Why could they not stop the deal?
The answer is that they had already sanctioned ownership of football to dubious regimes and owners. No line or distinction could be made without losing in court.

Why didn’t the government stop it if it was so bad.

Well of course we are Saudi Arabia’s allies we sell arms to them and our govt. feel that compered to some of the other countries out there they ain’t so bad.
This country still allows the Saudis to travel here something not true of all the football club owners I believe.

Newcastle fans would have accepted the deal being stopped on those grounds if it had been done at the start and with clarity whilst probably thinking if it were the big 6 nothing would be said.

So let’s all forget about the grubby world we live in. The booming prosperity that adds a fools gold finish to London and the south east, much built on the corruption and evil of this age and former ages and the exploitation of the many.
Let’s drink with our expat friends when they come home with fat pockets full of Saudi gold. Let’s spend those city bonuses knowing that all our deals and commodities traded were clean. Why not splash some of that on a holiday in Dubai .Hang on that might bring a new meaning to holiday washing.

More than this let’s all feel good because we pointed out the moral weakness of those uneducated limited tea towel wearing northerners because they should have stopped the deal. Those living on a universal credit lads.thise working class idiots they should give up on their club don’t you know. Whilst those with real power and the benefit of it are asked to give up nothing.

I fully understand sportswashing but are those really profiting from links to the tyrants of this world quietly laughing at all the smokescreen this provides for their continued links to unpalatable regimes and their grubby business game. This evil is less rooted in scotswood. Walker or Benwell than Mayfair,Dockands and the city .I also know that those Newcastle fans have more chance of changing things in Saudi than all those armchair deceivers and there impotent and sometimes false posturing. Why because they’re honest and Dont have skin in the business game only the escapism that nufc affords them.

Yours putting the blame where it belongs
John B


A weary Newcastle fan writes…
I had no intention of writing in to address the Newcastle takeover situation but the debate raging over the last while has prompted me to share my feelings.

I started supporting Newcastle from a distance in the early 90s Keegan era. Couldn’t bring myself to become another sharp viewcam jersey wearing clone (ah so young and principled back then), so chose based on style and being the slight underdog.

I loved the Keegan and Bobby Robson years, and then slowly had my enthusiasm dulled by the Ashley regime.

I am relieved he’s gone and realistically he was always going to leave eventually, it was just a matter of when and how much damage would he do before then. I’m a fan for almost 30 years and expect to be for 30 more. I wish the new owners were less awful, and they are awful, any comparisons to other owners is grasping at straws really. But it will be a nice change to be excited again about football, on a regular basis.

For me, the new owners would be awful with or without buying Newcastle. Ownership of this club will make them no better or worse. Some of the fans’ celebrations feel in poor taste, but every club has a bunch of tools that most reasonable people can’t identify with.

These new owners will hopefully elevate the club for a while, rejuvenate the local area and club infrastructure and eventually fuck off. I’ll be still here when they do.
Derek from Dundalk


Politicising football
Remember not that long ago when so many people on this page complained and campaigned to “keep politics out of football” because a few players decided to kneel?

Now suddenly it’s fine to be political about football. I don’t know the figures (obviously, I don’t know anything according to the comments section) but I’d be willing to wager that a good amount of the people who complained about politics in football when it’s an anti racist gesture are the same people now politicising Football.

Don’t get me wrong I definitely don’t agree with allowing certain unscrupulous individuals to rehabilitate their images through football but it seems like the rules have suddenly shifted given the sudden flooding of political letters lately.

As for Newcastle fans you’d be better off just admitting your happy to sell out like city fans did. You’re tired of being shit and poor and just want some success. Nobody is buying the “anybody but Ashley” reason because as bad as Ashley is he’s not a murdering human rights abuser (just an employment and tax abuser).

Also I want to give a quick defense of professional footballers. There’s always people saying they’re over paid, don’t deserve it etc but the money is in football and I think it’s right that the people who generate a large chunk of that money take some of it home. Also as employees of their clubs footballers are perhaps the only rich people who genuinely pay their way in terms of income tax because they’re paid via PAYE and it’s taken automatically (for evidence just Google any of the wage slips of professional players online)

A large amount of them also do a lot of charity work and donations (as Jonny nic mentioned about Salah) which largely goes unreported because anytime it is mentioned people brush it off as them doing PR or trying to get a tax break.


Franchise football
It’s international week so there’s plenty of time to consider, love, life and football. Just spitballing some thoughts now that the Saudi’s have joined the world of sports washing and it’s impact on football. For the Geordies it’s unbridled joy but for most outside the tripartite does the Middle East cartel present an existential threat to football.

The EU banned state aid competition and removed Spain’s and Catalonia’s ability to support Madrid and Barca. This was effectively bypassed when Abu Dhabi and Qatar came in to purchase City and PSG.

Transfer prices but more importantly wage inflation presents a real threat to competition and financial viability for football. PSG’s yearly wage bill for MBappe, Neymar and Messi will outflank most teams in Europe. Newcastle will have its own impact as they look to persuade players to the North East. Are we to see a geo political sports war played out in Europe.

We’ve seen threats of a super league defeated, maybe the best way to underpin the future of football is to create a UEFA franchise system that enables true competition by limiting spending on transfers and wages and sharing out of youth talent. We saw how easily FFP was bypassed by City and PSG so it would need some thought. I appreciate it would mean turkeys voting for Xmas but I believe the old guard would be open to it as they recognise they are no longer in a position to dictate to others.

Anyway can’t wait for the domestic league to start again, all this thinking is making my brain hurt
P Didi


Ole on TV
Can you imagine any club side watching England play – with all that talent available – and thinking, yeah, there’s a man who could lead us to glory. And I don’t just mean top-half sides. Of any major league.

Like with Ole, I think he will struggle for a future gig aside from TV. Certainly with the level of attention that I suspect he wants. The national gig is the last option to bring back some credibility, and while Southgate’s stock is undoubtedly higher than at any other time in his managerial career, it’s still Middlesborough level at best. And I’m pretty sure they’d have doubts about taking him back.

Man Utd boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer walks across the pitch


Newcastle shopping in Liverpool
Grateful as ever to be published yesterday, but as the Mailbox compiler included a flimsy reply to my point about Newcastle’s potential interest in Liverpool fringe players, I wanted to continue to set the record straight.

1. The Liverpool Echo article mentioned 5 potential LFC players as Newcastle targets. Two of them (Origi and Chamberlain) are absolutely “established PL players”. They both have clear parallels to the likes of Ben Haim, Bridge and Bellamy.

2. Suggesting that Newcastle, or plenty of other clubs, might be interested in Caoimhín Kelleher isn’t ridiculous, particularly when they are citing a 2.5m GBP valuation. He’s now a full Ireland international, on top of his promising few appearances for Liverpool.

3. Newcastle going for Nat Philips instead of setting their sights higher would be odd, but it wouldn’t be any more odd than Manchester City buying Tal Ben Haim after the season he had just had with Chelsea, and would quite possibly go less-badly than Ben Haim’s season at City.

Long story short, the Liverpool Echo writing an article about 5 players who might potentially be successfully targetted by Newcastle, while explaining why each particular transfer is less-than-likely, doesn’t strike me as particularly noteworthy.
Oliver (of all the 5 named players, surely the least plausible suggestion was Takumi Minamino?) Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland


Not just the minnows
I enjoyed Chris Evans’ piece questioning the place of the lowest-ranked countries in international qualifiers. But I’m not sure I agree. Given the choice between watching Andorra v England or (for example) Slovakia v England, I’d take Andorra every time. Both have the same winning is the minimum expectation downside, but at least with Andorra you expect to see a good few goals. Sure goals vs Andorra in a qualifier are very different to goals vs Germany in a semi final, but it was nice to see some players who don’t regularly start being genuinely thrilled to score for their country.

For me, the problem with qualifiers isn’t specific to the David v Goliath matches. For major national teams, all qualifiers are dull. England pretty much always qualify and, the few times when they’ve been so awful as to fail to do even that, there wouldn’t have been much point in their turning up for the finals anyway. Perhaps it’s more interesting for the next tier of teams who have a genuine shot, but who don’t qualify often, but I’m not sure even their fans get all that excited.

So the better solution is to get rid of qualifiers altogether. International football is brilliant when it’s concentrated into a continuous tournament structure, but rubbish when it takes the form of sporadic interruptions to the club season. So, if it was up to me, I’d adopt a format like for the tennis grand slams. The top ten (ish) teams qualify for the group stages automatically, and everybody else has to start two weeks early, playing knockout rounds to select the remaining participants. Perhaps Sierra Leone will not be the next Emma Raducanu, but I’d strongly support giving them that chance.