It wasn't a huge surprise to most people, to the fans and the people around the city of Newcastle, after news broke about Rafa Benitez leaving St. James' Park.
When you're getting that far into a contract with only eight days to go, with someone like Rafa, it's telling you that there is concerns.
We weren't surprised, but still, everyone was devastated by the news. There's a lot of negativity and disappointment around the city. The fans have lost the one big thing they were hanging their hat on, which was the fact they had a world-class manager. He just needed a bit of help in terms of finance with the team, and also finance with the infrastructure of the club in terms of the training and academy facilities.
It's only my opinion, but if there was a takeover that was imminent I would have thought that Mike Ashley would have let the new consortium decide what would happen with Rafa Benitez. If a new consortium is coming in, I would have also thought that Benitez and his advisors would have got assurances from them about what his position was.
I don't know the full ins and outs, but trying to read between the lines, the takeover is not imminent. It might be in the pipeline for the future, but I seriously doubt it will happen before the start of the season. Especially when Newcastle have shortlisted a few names for the job and are looking to get someone in very, very quickly. So if they're going to appoint a new manager I would say that the takeover isn't imminent because that job would be done by the new owners.
I think Newcastle have to make a statement of intent with their next managerial appointment. They have to make a statement to say that they are looking to future.
But the same old questions are going to be asked: is the manager going to get the necessary investment?
Make no mistake about it. When you are manager of Newcastle United it comes with pressure. The fans aren't just happy to accept not getting relegated. The fans want to see the club challenging to the top ten, to the top eight.
We're not looking to break that top-six yet, we understand it's a huge investment and a massive jump and it's going to take a long period of time. But they want to be challenging the teams in tenth, ninth and eighth, at the very least. I think the manager that comes in would want to get the assurances that they will be given the resources to do just that.
Regardless of all the problems, Newcastle United is still an attractive job. For people in work, for people out of work, managers from Britain and abroad.
They will be looking at this job and think it is very attractive. They have one of the best stadiums in football. One of the most, if not the most passionate set of fans. That is because they haven't had a lot of success but still turn up in the numbers and support the team unbelievably, no matter what is going on.
A new manager always wants to hit the ground running. He always wants to make an impression. Whoever takes over has to make an impression, because it's going to take a long time to get over Rafa Benitez. But if the results are positive, that could be changed and they'll move on. If they don't, there'll be more pressure on that new manager than there normally is.
Eddie has brought Bournemouth from League One and established them as a Premier League club, showing how much of an affect he can have on his young and exciting players, who play with plenty of speed and tenacity. Sean's also done a brilliant job on limited resources at Turf Moor.
So both of those would be ticking a lot of the boxes for me personally in terms of recruiting a manager, without a doubt.
Whatever happens, this is a crucial period for the club now. They have to get this right.
IDENTITY FOR CHANGE FOR CHELSEA
It will be hard for Frank Lampard at Chelsea with a transfer ban, no doubt. But after watching what he did at Derby County, by always giving youth a chance, I think this could be the perfect time to takeover at Stamford Bridge.
As I've spoken about previously in this column, the presence of Frank's number two, Jody Morris, will be a huge help. He worked for many years at the club's academy and knows each player's abilities and personalities inside and out.
What I think we might see at Chelsea is a massive change in how they operate as a football club. They've went out and been able to challenge, buying the biggest players in the world. Because of that a lot of their young kids have gone out on loan to gain experience. Now they have a chance to utilise that, to change their philosophy.
Even if the transfer ban wasn't in place, I think Frank is a manager who likes working with young players. And the fact that he knows a lot of about these lads means he already has a head start.
In moments in those massive games for the club, whether they are in the Champions League or Premier League, Jody will be giving the insights into each player. He knows the temperament of each player, if they'll be able to handle those moments that require mental strength.
The only thing you would question is: does he have enough experience?
What I say to that is you can only get experience by being given the opportunity. He had a terrific first year at Derby in terms of getting them to the Championship play-off final. He has got an incredible wealth of experience from the playing side of it as well, which can't be underestimated.
Frank Lampard could break the norm at Chelsea. He could end up there for a long, long time, which managers don't seem to do. I think this could change how they recruit in the future if it works with these young players, because they'll probably stick with that strategy. And if Frank's successful, they'll want to keep him there for a long, long time. There is every chance Frank could change the dynamic of Chelsea Football Club.
A NEW CHALLENGE WITH BLYTH
I'm really excited to start a new challenge with Blyth Spartans this upcoming season. We've only had a few sessions with it being part-time, but it's definitely nice to be back on the grass.
I would potentially use the North East clubs in the Football Leagues to try and recruit players on loan for Blyth. With us being a semi-professional club, it's hard to recruit players from around the country.
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