Newcastle United would have made a huge mistake if they’d appointed Unai Emery as their new boss; that’s the view of a former international striker.
Gabby Agbonlahor played three times for England between 2008 and 2009 and is now a pundit passing comment on the English game. He spoke out after reports that Newcastle had moved for Villarreal boss Emery, but he had turned them down to remain in La Liga.
“Emery struggled with Arsenal, he didn’t do well at Arsenal, so I don’t think it would have been a good appointment, no,” he told Football Insider. “Newcastle are absolutely miles off it. They’ve been linked with every manager walking the earth, and they’ve not signed one yet. It’s like a panic signing, for me.”
The former Aston Villa man went further, claiming that Newcastle might even drop out of the Premier League if they did not get the appointment right.
“Whoever they do bring in has one hell of a job to do. At the moment, for me, Newcastle are the second-favourites to go down after Norwich. The manager needs to get results before January; he can’t wait until January to get players in because they could be down by January and 10, 15 points off safety.”
The Magpies are at a crossroads in their history, having seen unpopular chairman Mike Ashley leave the club after more than a decade of unpopular ownership. In a Bwin report covering their recent history, it’s stated that in 2017 Ashley said he regretted buying the club, and he put them up for sale several times. Finally, after years of misery for their supporters, the Saudi-based PIF took over, instilling hope for a more positive future.
However, the immediate future does look uncertain. Having sacked manager Steve Bruce shortly after coming into the club, the new owners are hunting someone to turn their fortunes around. The new boss will have a healthy transfer fund; players like Alexandre Lacazette, James Tarkowski and Philippe Coutinho have all been linked with a move to St James’ Park, but much depends on their league position. Big names will want at least a hope of European football, and if Newcastle are adrift in January, it will be significantly harder to attract quality players, no matter how much money they throw at other clubs.
It seems that imminent threat of a relegation battle put off Emery, who has previously managed in the Premier League. He took over from Arsene Wenger at Arsenal, having previously won the Europa League in three successive seasons with Sevilla. He made the final of the same competition with Arsenal, but Chelsea thrashed his side in a one-sided affair, and he left the club six months later.
Whilst Agbonlahor didn’t state who he felt the right man would be, the options are limited for Newcastle. Over the summer, Tottenham Hotspur failed to attract their first choice manager, despite arguably being in a stronger position, and they’ve paid the penalty by already dismissing their appointed boss, Nuno Santo. It’s left the club in disarray, and a similar disaster appointment for Newcastle could have even further-reaching consequences; they’re seriously in danger of dropping into the Championship, and one wrong move could see the trapdoor open in May.