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A closer look at the managers from Mike Ashley’s 14-year Newcastle reign

·5 min read

Newcastle’s new regime dispensed with the services of Steve Bruce on Wednesday.

Bruce had come under intense pressure after a dreadful start to the 2021-22 campaign but retained the confidence of controversial owner Mike Ashley.

However, the completion of a £305million takeover signalled the end for the 60-year-old former Manchester United defender.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at the 10 men who worked under Ashley during his tenure.

Sam Allardyce

Mike Ashley and Sam Allardyce
Sam Allardyce lasted only 24 matches (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Allardyce was the man in possession when Ashley launched his takeover in May 2007, having been appointed by Magpies chairman Freddy Shepherd just days earlier. He had not been a popular choice to start with and, as attendances started to drop amid complaints over the football on offer, he lasted just 24 games, only eight of which had resulted in victory, and lost his job in January 2008.

Kevin Keegan

Soccer – Barclays Premier League – Newcastle United v Bolton Wanderers – St James Park
Kevin Keegan returned to the Newcastle hot seat (Owen Humphreys/PA)

The Toon Army dared to believe once again when Ashley handed Keegan a return to St James’ Park, prompting hopes of a return to the thrills he had brought to Tyneside during his first spell as manager. However, Keegan’s rebuilding plans were thwarted by Ashley’s refusal to back them financially, with Dennis Wise having been imposed upon him as executive director (football), and the former England manager walked out in September 2008. He later successfully fought a claim for constructive dismissal.

Joe Kinnear

Joe Kinnear with Chris Hughton
Joe Kinnear was a shock appointment (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Newcastle fans still angry at Keegan’s treatment were astonished to see Kinnear handed the reins in his wake. He announced himself with a foul-mouthed rant at journalists, but lasted just 20 games, winning four, before having to undergo heart surgery. He would return to even greater consternation for an ill-fated spell as director of football in 2013.

Alan Shearer

Alan Shearer
Alan Shearer could not save the club from relegation (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Newcastle’s record goalscorer was drafted in at the end of the 2008-09 season in an ultimately vain attempt to drag the club out of relegation trouble. Nevertheless, Ashley appeared impressed with the former England skipper and the pair held detailed talks over the way forward. Shearer is still awaiting his answer.

Chris Hughton

Chris Hughton
Chris Hughton took on the task of returning Newcastle to the Premier League (Martin Rickett/PA)

Hughton had stepped into the breach as caretaker either side of Kinnear’s tenure and it was to he that the owner turned once again during the summer of 2009. Against all the odds, the former Tottenham and Republic of Ireland defender circled the wagons and guided the club back into the Premier League as champions, only to lose his job in December 2010.

Alan Pardew

Alan Pardew
Alan Pardew led Newcastle to fifth in the Premier League (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Instantly dismissed as just another member of the so-called ‘Cockney Mafia’, Pardew was another left-field appointment who never won over large sections of the fanbase, despite leading the club to a fifth-placed finish at the end of the 2011-12 campaign and their only season of European football under Ashley. He departed for Crystal Palace in December 2014, having won 71 and drawn 41 of his 185 games at the helm.

John Carver

Soccer – Barclays Premier League – Newcastle United v West Bromwich Albion – St James’ Park
John Carver’s time in charge was brief (Richard Sellers/PA)

Pardew’s number two, Carver landed his dream job when he was asked to take over, but the Geordie, who had worked under Sir Bobby Robson during his time as Newcastle boss, found the going tough. In all, he presided over 20 games, 19 of them in the league, and a 2-0 win over West Ham on the final day of the 2014-15 season kept them up, but proved to be his swansong.

Steve McClaren

Steve McClaren
Newcastle struggled under Steve McClaren (Owen Humphreys/PA)

As with so many of his predecessors, McClaren’s appointment was not met with universal acclaim, and things went downhill from there. The new manager had little or no say over a summer recruitment drive which left holes in the squad and although he was allowed to invest heavily in January 2016 to bring in Jonjo Shelvey, Andros Townsend and Henri Saivet, the club was hurtling out of the division by the time he was handed his cards two months later.

Rafael Benitez

Rafael Benitez
Rafael Benitez was a surprise appointment (Martin Rickett/PA)

Ashley sprang something of a surprise in March 2016 when he appointed Benitez as McClaren’s replacement with 10 games remaining, and supporters were genuinely thrilled when the Spaniard agreed to stay on even after failing in his mission to keep the club in the top flight. The former Liverpool boss was given the freedom to rebuild the squad for a promotion charge and promptly delivered the Sky Bet Championship title followed by 10th and 13th-placed finishes despite tighter restrictions from above. However, he walked away in June 2019 having failed to gain assurances over the club’s future direction.

Steve Bruce

Steve Bruce
Steve Bruce was Benitez’s successor (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Bruce walked into the storm left behind by Benitez’s exit and was never really able to find a way through it. He guided his side into 13th place at the end of his first season and 12th a year later, but only after fighting a tense battle against relegation as the goals and points dried up and he seemed powerless to do anything about it. When the axe fell, the Magpies were eight games into the new Premier League season and had not recorded a single win.

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