Geremi: Newcastle owners must give manager and players time to gel
Geremi: Newcastle need leaders
In an exclusive interview with Ladbrokes, former Newcastle player Geremi has plenty of advice for the club’s new owners and believes he could have a role to play at St James’ Park.
The ex-Chelsea and Real Madrid star also gives us his thoughts on the big game between Newcastle and Chelsea ahead of the launch of Saturday’s 5-A-Side Bet.
Newcastle advice – walk before we can run and learn from previous mistakes
Honestly, during my time at Newcastle, it’s fair to say we had some big players within our squad. The only problem was that we didn’t have a team; Newcastle bought a lot of big names, but to achieve something big with a squad, you need time and you need to be a team. You need to get to know each other, and we didn’t really have that opportunity, unfortunately. Every year something seemed to change at the club, and so the message I’d send to the owners now would be that if you want to achieve something special, you need to give your players and a new manager time. The club needs to learn from previous mistakes, and so going out and buying 10 players in the next transfer window isn’t going to work for them.
It has to be a slow process, and here’s the solution: next summer is when the majority of new players should be brought in – six, seven or eight first-team players could be brought in, and then you build on that with one or two more signings in every transfer window. For sure, the new owners are going to want to spend a lot of money in January, and the fans will want to see some big names coming in, but it has to be managed properly, over time.
They will not be winning the title next season, that’s for sure. If things go very well for them, it will take three or four years before they win something.
The most important, immediate thing is to keep the club in the Premier League. The second half of this season will be very interesting for Newcastle. The new owner needs to bring in a very, very clever manager. For now, the focus is to keep the team in the division, and there are people out there who can come in and do that job.
I have some people in my mind who could come in and manage the team – in fact I think I could do something for the club because of my experience. I know the kind of player the club needs right now. In this situation, they need to bring in experienced players who can get them out of the relegation zone and save this season. They need players who can read the game well. They need the kind of players who know how to see out games. For example if they’re winning 1-0 away from home, they need players who know not to carry on attacking. They need leaders.
For me, this is where the club needs to strengthen in January. They need leaders, so I think they should go and get one new signing in defence, two in midfield and one killer striker. When you get that spine, you build the rest of the team around those players. That’s how you keep the team in the Premier League, by bringing in a maximum of five players in the next transfer window.
Then you can prepare for next season and the next transfer window, and in the summer is where they can go out and strengthen the team even further. The club needs to walk before it can run, and the main focus between now and the end of the season is just staying in the Premier League.
I don’t want someone to just come in on a short-term basis to keep the club in the division; the decision they make has to be with a long-term vision in mind. Bringing someone in and changing things in the summer is not a good option. The project has started now, so the right person has to come in for the long-term. It’s worth remembering that whoever comes in should be given the time to succeed as well – I don’t think they should think about getting rid of a manager after a few bad results – they should be judged on their work after two or three seasons. The first objective is to keep the team in the league; at the moment they’re fighting for survival. Then my next objective would be to win one trophy in the next two or three years.
Of course if the club ever called me and asked for my help, I have my qualifications in management and administration, but I don’t have coaching qualifications. I can be a director of sport at a club and I have experience with some of the biggest names in management, so I think I’d have the experience to do a job like that for the team.
I won’t name anyone in particular, but I think Newcastle should be looking to give the job to a former player who has only recently retired, because football has changed a lot in the last few years. It’s a great opportunity for someone who has just started coaching. The owners need to take the time to find the right person for the job.
My advice to players thinking of joining Newcastle – it’s the place to be
Whenever I made a decision about my next career move, I always put a lot of thought into it – that way I can say I have no regrets about my career. I considered everything before moving to Newcastle, and I’m glad I made that move.
Moving from London to Newcastle meant a different sort of lifestyle, of course. I knew that things would be different, but the thing that was important for me was the club’s project. I was the happiest person in the world when I joined Newcastle. I wanted success with the club so badly.
Newcastle is an amazing city, honestly. It’s amazing. It’s a very nice place for footballers to go and settle. It’s not the biggest city you’ll ever see, but I preferred it to London because if I wanted to go somewhere for dinner or shopping, there was never really any traffic – that was one of the main advantages of the place!
The people in the city are very kind. Of course, when the club is playing well they were even kinder, and let’s just say they were frustrated when the club wasn’t playing so well. For the players, there’s a nice and calm area to live – it really is the place to be.
The city wasn’t full, if that makes sense. It wasn’t too busy; there was lots of space and you didn’t feel like it was too crowded like you sometimes do in London. It’s a very good place to be if you want to focus on a successful football career.
Let me give you an example; a young player in London is surrounded by temptation and distractions. This is not good for a young footballer, because you need to concentrate and be fully fit and prepared. You avoid all of that in Newcastle. Of course, big players want to be in big cities like London, but you’re not too far away from big cities if you’re living in Newcastle. It’s easy to fly from Newcastle to London, but Newcastle itself is a great place to focus on your football, and with their new project, it’s the perfect place for a young footballer to come and move to.
It’s not like there’s nothing to do in Newcastle, the nightlife is fantastic. In England, people just love to party, so you’ll find your place in Newcastle if that’s what you’re into. But I’d want players to come to Newcastle who are going to be focused on the project ahead, and that’s why I talk about the lack of distractions in the city; it’s perfect.
Newcastle v Chelsea prediction
When you look at the performances of both teams, for sure it’s clear that Chelsea are going to be the clear favourites to beat Newcastle this weekend. Chelsea have been in great form and Newcastle haven’t been so good this season. We’re just waiting for them to kickstart their season. They’re clearly very frustrated at the moment and it’s affecting them.
Maybe the motivation will come for the Newcastle players when the owners start bringing in new players – but the worry with that is that we’re still two months away from the transfer window opening.
They’re still yet to win a game this season, so it’s clear they need motivating. That motivation could come from a surprise win against a team like Chelsea this weekend. When you’re near the bottom of the table and you beat top of the table, everyone’s spirits are lifted and confidence is on another level for the next game, and the one after that, and so on. So, while it’s not going to be easy at all, this weekend’s game should be seen as a fantastic opportunity for Newcastle to lift themselves up and cause a big, big upset.