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Former players on the plight of Newcastle

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Malcolm Macdonald (187 appearances 1971-76)


The club was taken over by people who didn't know what they were doing. They didn't know how to structure a playing squad. A football club isn't for buying and selling but that's what I think they were seeking to do. Football will find you out so quickly, it's horrifying and that's exactly the situation Newcastle find themselves in – a horrifying one.


Frank Clark

(445 appearances 1962-1975)


If there was a turning point it would have to be the premature sacking of Sir Bobby Robson. The fans got carried away with what Bobby achieved and thought that would be the norm. They had been in the Champions League, then they finished fifth and that was deemed unacceptable by the people running the club and possibly supporters who began to take it for granted that they would always be up there.


Freddy Shepherd

(former chairman)


I hope Sir John Hall regrets ever encountering Mike Ashley because everyone knows I didn't want to sell. Lots of people can buy football clubs but not many can run them. Ashley is a great businessman for the sports retail side, but as far as running a football club is concerned there is a lot left to be desired.


Kevin Gallacher

(39 appearances 1999-2001)


If only Sir Bobby Robson had been five years younger when he took over as manager then they might not be in the current mess because things would have really taken off. Sadly, time caught up with him because he was the one that came closest to reviving the feel-good factor that took the club so close to success under Kevin Keegan. Newcastle have not really recovered since Keegan left the first time.


Rob Lee

(303 appearances 1992-2002)


There was euphoria when Mike Ashley took over the club from Freddy Shepherd and it was assumed Newcastle would move up to the next level. Fans clamoured for Kevin Keegan but from then on things went sour. His resignation was a huge turning point. They started this season well but then cracks started appearing between Kevin and Dennis Wise. It didn't help anyone. No one knew who was buying and selling players. Who wants to go a club in that sort of turmoil? Players we should be attracting won't join the club in those circumstances.


Irving Nattrass


(238 appearances 1970-79)


You can't totally blame Mike Ashley for the club's current plight. We've been struggling to keep our heads above water for a few years now because the players have got progressively worse. Massive resources have gone on players who just aren't good enough and that's down to questionable judgment. If we are relegated I hope Alan Shearer stays as manager because the club needs a popular figure who fans will allow plenty of time to re-build from the bottom up.


Olivier Bernard


(102 appearances 2000-05)


When the gaffer (Sir Bobby Robson) went we were all shocked. That was bad enough but we then got [Graeme] Souness, whose club Blackburn Rovers were struggling. Souness came in and promptly finished 13th.


David Ginola


(58 appearances 1995-97)


I wasn't really surprised to see Newcastle turn to Alan Shearer. He has what others do not have: has passion and the motivation. He has a specific brief to keep them up, after that it will be a mystery. It will be nice to have Alan Shearer as permanent manager. If he saves the club he will prove he is good enough. But if he can't he will still be the right man for the job if they go into the Championship.


Jim Smith


(manager 1988-1991)


More than one manager in a season is bad, but four is a recipe for disaster. But it's a disaster that could yet be avoided. Now Newcastle need some stability in some way and I hope Alan Shearer can provide it. They love their football up there and they need stability to get the success - you only have to look at Man United and Sir Alex Ferguson. It would be a miracle in Newcastle if they stuck with somebody for that long, but that's what is needed now.


Temuri Ketsbaia

(78 appearances 1997-2000)


They have good, quality players. The problem is they've had players injured every week. At the beginning of the season I thought they would have a good run, but they haven't really recovered from Kevin Keegan leaving. He was unbelievable for the club. It's not easy for a club when you have injuries, but that's football. You must face these problems and deal with them as well as you can. What I've seen so far is not good enough.

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