Newcastle United have reached an agreement with Steve McClaren and the fifty-four year-old’s appointment will apparently be announced to the media in due course. But - and there always has to be a ‘but’ with Mike Ashley - only the club’s preferred media partners, Sky Sports and The Mirror, will be invited to the unveiling.
And there goes that fresh start…
Ashley and the press are natural enemies, of course, but it’s difficult to understand - beyond simple spite - what the motivation is here. In an ideal world, Newcastle would quite like to successfully charge for media access but, given that it’s not an industry standard, that’s an unrealistic ambition. As a consequence, all that restricted access really amounts to is antagonism; every journalist barred by the club will tweet and write negatively and continue to prod and poke Ashley, Lee Charnley and, now, Steve McClaren.
Just like last season, just like the season before that.
If the former England manager was uncertain of the realities surrounding Newcastle United, he certainly has a greater comprehension of them now.
His introduction should have been about openness and clarity. Given that this is the first truly considered appointment the club have made in years, it could also have been a natural endpoint for all the pettiness that has characterised the club in recent seasons. Ashley’s profit-first mentality may have remained, but this was a chance to repair some of the broken links with the community - fanciful as that sounds - and build some bridges with the press.
That it hasn’t been used for such is baffling and, right from his very first day, McClaren will find himself to be as much a shield as he is a manager at Newcastle United; the acceptable face of a hated regime.
At best this kind of behaviour is deeply childish, at worst it’s further evidence of Mike Ashley’s raging North Korea complex.
Either way, it’s the kind of inexplicable self-defeat that the club have come to specialise in.