The Simpsons has a habit of occasionally dropping in cameo performances from the stars of other animated series, and it always leave me feeling strangely uncomfortable. Seeing Fred Flintstone sitting on the couch at 742 Evergreen Terrace has the effect of making me look around, just to check that the world is still turning and that I haven’t slipped, without noticing, into a parallel universe. Soap operas, thank heavens, don’t do the same thing nearly as often, but I had to check that there was just the one sun in the sky this morning with the news that Dennis Wise has been appointed as the General Manager at Newcastle United, an appointment which has further reinforced my opinion that Mike Ashley is suffering some sort of nervous breakdown.
Interviewed on the radio last night, Kevin Keegan sounded somewhat bemused and unhappy at the appointment. After all the fanfare of his resurrection-like return to St James Park (though it is always worth pointing out that this particular “Geordie Messiah” isn’t actually a Geordie himself, and that his first significant involvement with Newcastle United was practically beating them single-handed for Liverpool in the 1974 FA Cup final – he didn’t sign for Newcastle until 1982, by which time he was way past his best and had already retired from international football), Newcastle have played some atrocious football in his two matches in charge so far, barely registering a shot on target against either Bolton Wanderers or Arsenal, but I doubt if he could reasonably have been expecting such a, well, peculiar appointment to be made, especially without his own authorisation.
Leeds United supporters seem happy enough with it all and, indeed, why shouldn’t they be? I fully understand that they would be top of the table if it hadn’t been for the fifteen point deduction that they suffered during the summer because of the attempted sleight of hand over their financial crisis at the time, but their supporters seem to have long enough memories to be be fully aware of the fact that it was Wise that took them down in the first place and that his appointment and retention at Elland Road seemed to be largely on the basis that he is one of the few men in football that actually likes Ken Bates. They have spent heavily since the transfer embargo placed upon them was lifted, and being near the top of League One, for a club that was competing in the Champions League earlier in this decade, should be their minimum requirement, points deduction or no. The only cloud on their horizon is the spectre of Dave Bassett, seemingly appointed as caretaker-manager – another ghost from the past, who seems unlikely to be the man to provide them with very much success or, indeed watchable football.
Considering how dull the January transfer window has been, we should be grateful to Leeds and Newcastle (as well as Liverpool) for providing us with as much mirth as they have done. Football needs this level of incompetent administration to give the rest of us something to giggle over, and you get the feeling that it just wouldn’t be the same if everyone was ably administrated. All we need now is for Jose Mourinho to be offered the Leeds job, only for him to turn it down, leaving them with Steve McClaren in charge, and the circle will be complete.