And not a very funny one at that!
They were not the words Steven Taylor envisaged spitting out as his beloved Newcastle United prepare for the new season in the Championship. ‘The club’s a joke,’ he said . ‘And the players haven’t got a clue what is going on.’
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. In May, when he fell to the pitch at Villa Park following relegation and clasped his head, Taylor could somehow see the green shoots of the club’s recovery even through the tears.
When he returned to the sanctuary of the dressing room Alan Shearer would be there and would become the manager to guide them through their troubles.
Twenty-four hours later, after a final debriefing with Shearer, Taylor and those members of the squad who still cared felt even more optimistic about the prospect of a season ahead in the Football League.
The former England Under 21 captain, who had played only a limited role in the club’s final throes in the top flight due to an achilles injury, was encouraged to stand down from European Championship duties.
He was still reluctant, but this was advice from Shearer and his medical guru Paul Ferris and their only concern was a summer of recuperation for the central defender.
‘Everyone thought he would be back in place,’ said Taylor, 23. ‘We thought it might take a couple of weeks but then Alan would be the manager.
‘And that’s why I missed the European Championship. He wanted me right for the start of the season and of course I was happy to do it. I have so much respect for him and whatever he says, you do it.
‘He said he would be back and would do it his way. I guarantee if he was still manager now, all our big players would still be here. The chairman would have had a headache over the wage bill but whatever Alan Shearer wants, you give him. He commands that much respect and he would take us straight back up.
‘I thought Alan would be named as manager and everything would be sorted. Instead the season kicks off and we still haven’t got a manager.’
It is 76 days since Shearer last addressed his troops and although he will be at The Hawthorns on Saturday evening for Newcastle’s game against West Bromwich, it will be back in the television studio rather than in the dressing room.
For that, Taylor is unable to suppress his anger – just as Shearer may struggle to hide his emotions on camera.
‘The new manager should be given time to do it his way and if he wants something just give it to him. The chairman, if he loves this football club, would do that. I’m devastated Alan Shearer has not got the job. As players, we haven’t a clue what is going on.
‘I’ve read every week that next week Alan is going to be named manager. Then Joe Kinnear is going to get the job, then Kevin Keegan and then Alan Shearer again. I don’t get it. The club is a joke” (Daily Mail)
As the north-east club lurches from one crisis to another it’s easy to forget that the club still has a fair few players who will give their all to get the club back on track. Obviously this doesn’t include the likes of Mark Viduka, Michael Owen and other mercanaries looking to continue their Premier League lifestyle or more accurately continue getting their huge Premier League pay checks.
Steven Taylor strikes me as a player who will give his all for the club and as such his derogatory remarks about the club are all the more powerful as this is a man who desperately wants to see the club back where they belong, but can that happen in the current climate, in a word, no.
After being driven into the ground by Mike Ashley and his cronies who have made bad judgement call after bad judgement call, it will take more than a quick fix to address the bigger picture. Even if the Obese and Odious owner jumped ship things would still not be so easily remedied but it would be a step in the right direction.
Chris Hughton is a coach and not a manager and he is probably as desperate to see another man at the helm as anyone, everyone in the City of Newcastle wanted that man to be Alan Shearer, but that seems like a distant dream now and a secondary, less romantic, solution needs to be reached, and fast.