Sunday 19 April ~
It is just 15 months since Harry Redknapp rejected the chance to replace Sam Allardyce as Newcastle manager. It isn't hard to guess which party regrets that moment more. While Redknapp has won the FA Cup with Portsmouth and begun to rebuild a Tottenham squad with an outside chance of the European qualification, Newcastle have worked their way through four managers and only a few more victories. Today they travel to White Hart Lane facing relegation if manager Alan Shearer can't prove his Messianic qualities with six games of the season to go.
One of the most telling images of Alan Shearer's first match as Newcastle manager against Chelsea a fortnight ago was the sight of Mike Ashley giving his signature to a grateful fan in the stands in St James' Park. While Shearer may not save Newcastle from relegation, there is every chance he has saved Ashley, a man who earlier this season was unable to enter his own team's ground due to safety fears, from having to sell the club. At first look the appointment seemed a stunt as cheap as the sportswear that Ashley made his fortune selling, but the fact he dismissed his unpopular pyramid of backroom staff and allowed "Super Al" to bring in his own men surely hints that their relationship will stretch beyond May. Failing that, Ashley can always appoint Jimmy Nail if he wants to stick around any longer.
Meanwhile, two managers that have stood the test of time face up to each other in the FA Cup semi-final as Everton attempt to stop Manchester United's march towards world domination. The weekend began for Alex Ferguson with a rant about Rafael Benitez's lack of respect for other managers, not dissimilar in tone from Benitez's comments about Ferguson earlier this season.
This is forgetting of course that the media see Ferguson as second only to Derren Brown as the master of the mindgame. So while Benitez "lost the plot" under pressure from Fergie earlier in the season, the BBC website reported on Friday that Ferguson was simply “turning up the heat” on Liverpool. When it comes to managing or running a club in the Premier League, controlling the media and fans' perception of the job you're doing is as important as the job itself. Josh Widdicombe