Mike Ashley,
Newcastle United Football Club,
St James’s Park,
Newcastle Upon Tyne


Dear Mike,

In light of the disappointing performances of Newcastle United Football Club in the current season, I hereby offer my services to take over from the lovable bumbling rogue you have in charge at the moment.

I will freely admit that my knowledge of football management has been recently untested, since they started putting copy protection on Football Manager, so allow me to briefly establish my doctrine and approach.

I have noticed that we get more points from a game (on the league table) when we have a higher number beside our team name than the other team, when the referee blows his whistle for a long time at the end of the match.  I do not believe this is coincidental, and I believe there is a cause-and effect. I have also noticed that when the little dashed line on the league is somewhere below our team name, fewer people in Newcastle try to set fire to Sports Direct adverts.

I favour placing players who aren’t very good either on loan or on the bench.  I favour putting players who seem to know one side of a boot from another on the field, wearing a football kit, and playing the game.  I know this is a bit different from the general scheme over the last few months, but bear with me, as I think it’s a strategy which could pay dividends in the future.

Further in terms of squad selection, I favour putting shirts with the numbers 9 or 10 on people who enjoy running toward the opposition goal, passing it to one another and then eventually, when there’s not much pitch to go, hoofing the ball into the net, past the goalkeeper.  Now, I’m aware of the excitement caused when a player simply kicks the ball to the side of the pitch, or passes it gently into the warm arms of the opposition goalkeeper, or, as in the last few games, tries to send the ball up to Tim Peake in the International Space Station; but imagine the excitement if we actually employed some people to do some of the passy-passy, kicky-kicky stuff that some of the other teams do?  Their fans seem to like it.

Moving on – if we were to consider putting some people in the middle to keep a formation, intercept opposition players who have the ball and pass forward to the people with 9 or 10 on their backs, that could be helpful.

I favour putting surly, ill-tempered people in shirts with lower numbers and keeping them to the back of the field, with an occasional lunge forward when they have possession of the ball and see a space on the pitch from which they could pass the ball forward.   The recent trend within Newcastle United of having people at the back apparently paid to observe the opposition players running past them towards our goal is actually an unwelcome one and I would like to see us try something different.  What if some of them (obviously not all) tracked back, watched the space and prepared, with insight into the probable next steps of the attacking players, to intercept them before the box?  It seems to work in Ladies’ football, and I see Leicester City using an similar approach to their advantage.  If I was the manager, I’d at least give that a go.  I could draw diagrams for the players.

Finally in terms of squad selection, I would put a big player who seems to understand the flight characteristics of a near-sphere in a shirt with the number 1 on it.  I’d have him stand near our goal to stop the opposition team from kicking the ball into our goal, either by catching it in some gloves, or punching it away from the goal, or by kicking it away, or, like I did when I played in goals in the quad at school, blocking the ball with my face.  Again – controversial strategy but imagine if it worked.

In conclusion, Mike, I have in the past bought shoes from you and I trust you.  You could repay my trust by hiring me – for £30/hr (not a penny less) on match days and training days to apply some of the strategies I have outlined above to help out our football team.  It may be, of course, that you thought you were buying a Formula One racing team when you hired Steve McClaren, and that this really isn’t your fault.  In that case, feel free to direct him to this page to help him.

Yours sincerely,

Ben ‘Glory Hunter’ Archibald