Newcastle, New King: A New Start

This is the first part of a new story, following the journey of football manager Carl Potter through media reports, television shows, interviews and critical opinions from former players. I hope you enjoy it!

June 26th, 2017

 

“Newcastle fans may want to listen closely to this, as we are hearing that a new manager has been appointed” stated Sky Sports News anchor Rob Wotton as the station returned from an ad break. “Since Rafa Benitez decided to leave the club after winning the Championship at the end of last season, Newcastle fans have been speculating who their new manager would be and I can tell you that former Newcastle player, Carl Potter, has been appointed. We can now cross live to St. James’ Park and our man David Craig, who is standing by at the stadium. David.”

 

“Thanks, Rob. Yes, the club have confirmed that Carl Potter has been appointed as the next Newcastle manager on what we believe is on a one-year deal. Potter, of course, played for Newcastle for two seasons, scoring 27 times in 71 appearances, before that horrific leg break at White Hart Lane which ended his career a couple of years ago at just twenty-nine years of age. He was capped 42 times with Wales, scoring 17 goals and I’m sure Newcastle fans will be eager to find out what their new man has planned for the club” explained Craig.

“We don’t have any other details at the moment about his backroom team, or what kind of transfer budget he will have. Those kinds of things will come out over the next few days, but in the meantime, a press conference has been called for this afternoon for the new manager to introduce himself to the fans and the media, and outline his vision for Newcastle United moving forward.”

“Thanks, David. There we have it – Newcastle United have a new manager and it’s Carl Potter. We will bring you all of the coverage of that press conference this afternoon when the new manager introduces himself.”

 

“I’m very happy to be here” was the response when Carl Potter was asked for his thoughts at his first press conference as Newcastle United manager. “We’ve got an ambitious squad that’s more than capable of staying in this division. I think we can probably push for a solid mid-table finish this season and hopefully progress from there in the future”.

Reporters in attendance questioned the short contract afforded to the new manager, with TalkSport’s Ian Danter asking, “you’ve been given a twelve-month contract… is that a sign that the board isn’t completely convinced that you’re the man to move this club forward?”. Potter’s response was pragmatic: “No, I don’t think so. Newcastle have had a difficult time with their managers in recent years, so of course they are going to be cautious” he began. “If we do well this season, I’m sure we will sit down and talk about a contract extension. If we struggle, of course, that might not happen, but that’s the way the game is. Clubs move quickly if results aren’t going the right way, whether the manager has a one-year or five-year contract, so it doesn’t matter too much, these days.”

Responding to Óscar Álvarez from Goal.com, Potter addressed the ambitions of much-maligned chairman, Mike Ashley. “The chairman is ambitious. We’ve had a long discussion about the vision of this club; Mike, Lee and myself. I’ve told them what I want, they’ve told me what they can do to help move the club in that direction and I’m confident that what we can achieve what we set out to achieve.”

Darren Hall of Sporting Life asked “we’re led to believe that you’re quite heavily-focused on the integration of younger talent. How do you intend to factor that into your day-to-day management?”

“Obviously, as a club with a rich history of bringing through young talent, we want to continue that. The key, for me, is to make sure that the young players are ready for the first team before we put them in that environment. To achieve that, we have to make sure we have good foundations in our youth setup – that includes making sure we have the right people in the right positions and that our facilities are as good as they can possibly be. I want our young players to know that if they work hard and are good enough, there is a place for them in my squad, but equally, we need to give these boys the tools to highlight their ability.”

Questions then turned to Potter’s backroom staff. “We believe Mikel Antía, Chris Wilding and Joe Joyce have left the club today. Can you tell us who you will be bringing in to replace them?” asked Sky Sports News’ David Craig. “Kristjaan Speakman will be coming in to take control of Youth Development. That is a big part of what I was saying about having the right people in the right places. For the rest of our coaching positions, we are finalising discussions with a few people, but I don’t want to talk too much about that until those deals are completed” responded the manager, calmly.

“Have you identified any players that you want to bring in to the club and can you tell us if there is any money available for new signings?” asked BBC’s chief football writer, Phil McNulty, with the final question of the press conference. “There is some money, yes. Obviously, the club has concluded some deals before I arrived – Matt Richie and Christian Atsu have come in and we’ve got a few players on loan, so there probably isn’t a full budget available, but if we find the right player, at the right cost, then we can make a deal happen, certainly” responded Potter.

The appointment has received a mixed reaction from the Newcastle fans. Questioned outside the stadium, responses ranged from positivity and excitement that the club has appointed a young, ambitious manager, to disappointment and anger directed at much-maligned chairman Mike Ashley for appointing a manager with no experience ahead of what could be a difficult season for the club, following promotion.

Potter is expected to adopt an attacking style that demands a lot from his full-backs and central midfielders, supporting a three-pronged attack, and Newcastle’s fans will be hoping that their new manager’s positive approach reaps positive rewards.