McClaren’s hanging on to Toon job
STEVE McCLAREN was last night still in charge at Newcastle after crunch talks between club chiefs.
The Toon boss feared the sack in the wake of fans’ protests during Saturday’s humiliating 3- 1 defeat at home by Bournemouth.
And while he could still be fi red ahead of Monday’s trip to title- chasing Leicester , McClaren has at least persuaded managing director Lee Charnley to delay pulling the trigger during a day of frantic talks.
Charnley, chief scout Graham Carr and club ambassador Bob Moncur, the former club captain appointed to the board along with McClaren last June, were all in York yesterday discussing the latest crisis.
McClaren, whose players had a day off, was not with them having spent time at his Yarm home.
There was no word from the club throughout the day and McClaren will be back at the club’s training ground this morning.
However, he is not out of the woods just yet, with owner Mike Ashley still needing to be convinced that Newcastle’s chances of avoiding relegation are best served by sticking with him.
Ashley’s PR advisor Keith Bishop has been in regular touch with the sports retail magnate and will have given him a fi rst- hand account of Saturday’s gutless performance and the toxic atmosphere inside St James’ Park.
Ashley is under no illusions that the vast majority of fans want McClaren out. But he has never been a slave to public opinion and ironically that could work in the head coach’s favour.
So too could the lack of a replacement ready to take over the reins. David Moyes is the bookies’ favourite and would jump at the chance.
But the former Manchester United and Everton boss, out of work since being sacked by Real Sociedad, wants to be manager and not head coach and has serious reservations about working under the restrictions imposed on McClaren.
For him to agree to come in, the board would effectively have to tear up the current managerial model with a transfer committee of Carr, Charnley and the head coach.
For similar reasons, former Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers would need some persuading, and he is thought to want to wait until the summer before returning to the game.
Harry Redknapp could also be approached, particularly if Newcastle were just looking for someone to take over for the last 10 games of this season.
The club’s inaction is unlikely to appease supporters who made their feelings clear on Saturday. Yesterday the infl uential Fans’ Forum, made up of 15 supporters who regularly meet the club hierarchy, demanded action to stave off a second relegation in the Ashley era.
In a hard- hitting open letter, they lambasted McClaren’s record of just six wins this season and called for action, not words. THE defender is in no doubt and has called for a crackdown on diving in football.
“This was a game- changing decision, especially in the 9 0th minute – it’s pretty important,” said Delaney. “I’d like to see a crackdown on diving. I didn’t think it was a penalty at all. Benteke said he’d felt it.
“To me he overran the ball and just went down. I didn’t feel any contact at all , I genuinely didn’t.
“I saw him go down, I looked around at the referee and he gave a goal kick. I thought ‘ That’s the correct decision.’ Then someone said FORMER Tottenham and Leicester boss Pleat believes that there is no major problem with diving in English football.
Pleat said: “For me it was not a penalty.
“But I don’t think we have a problem with diving in this country. No more so than any other country.
“Sometimes if a player is moving quickly, then the slightest touch can put them off balance. And it can be very diffi cult to regain balance.
“We saw the same problem with Gareth Bale at Tottenham AT THE game for talkSPORT, Collymore had no qualms – furiously condemning the decision and criticising television pundits such as Sky’s Jamie Carragher, and the BBC’s Mark Lawrenson and John Hartson, for apparently condoning Benteke going down in the area.
Collymore, pictured right, wrote in his BoylesSports blog: the linesman was fl agging. If that challenge had been around the halfway line, Benteke stays on his feet – yeah, of course he does.
“That late in the game, in the 9 0th minute, you’ve got to be 100 per cent sure that’s a penalty. There’s no way that the linesman could have been 100 per cent sure, but he gave it so quick.
“We were watching the replays afterwards – the linesman is fl agging before Benteke’s even hit the ground. It looks like he couldn’t wait to give it. It just kind of sums us up at the moment.” – simply because he moves at such pace that when a defender touched him, it could throw him off.
“It is always a question of could the player have stayed on their feet and that is a very diffi cult call indeed for referees.
“My own view is that even after looking at every angle of this incident on video screens, we are none of us still sure. “But I don’t think we have a major problem with diving in English football.
“Players here mainly try to stay on their feet.” “Diving is a cancer eating away at the soul and moral compass of football.
“Ex- pros who did it are brainwashing a gullible TV audience that cheating is OK.
“The rules have enough ambiguity to drive a bus full of cheats through.
“The cheats have gone into overdrive, leaving a leg in, actually happy to go down and forgo the passage of play. Let me remind you what the spirit of the law was. You are awarded a penalty – they aren’t won or earned.
“You have no right to force a cheats’ charter on every schoolkid who watches you, every dad who has to clean up the mess on a Sunday morning. You have no right to cheat the opposition.” JUAN MATA admits he let down his team- mates and Manchester United’s supporters as the fi rst red card of his career dealt a major blow to their Champions League hopes.
Mata was sent off after just 26 minutes of United’s 1- 0 defeat away to West Bromwich Albion on Sunday, which left Louis van Gaal’s side sixth in the Premier League, three points behind Manchester City in the pivotal fourth place. United’s playmaker was cautioned twice in four minutes, for attempting to block a quickly taken free- kick and then for mistiming a challenge on former team- mate Darren Fletcher.
Van Gaal claimed that Mata’s previous good character might have been taken into account by referee Mike Dean. But even the United boss admitted the fi rst booking had been a stupid one. And, even though he