Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

United Are Not Bard. It's Just the Theatre of Top Flight; THE AGENDA: The Advantage Newcastle Have over Their Rivals When the Pressure Mounts Shakespeare's 'Four Games from Crisis'claim Won't Involve Magpies

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

United Are Not Bard. It's Just the Theatre of Top Flight; THE AGENDA: The Advantage Newcastle Have over Their Rivals When the Pressure Mounts Shakespeare's 'Four Games from Crisis'claim Won't Involve Magpies

Article excerpt

Byline: Chris Waugh

LAST month, just days before his own axe fell at Leicester City, Craig Shakespeare claimed that every Premier League club is merely "four games away from a crisis".

On the evidence of the 2017/18 campaign so far, his statement appears to ring true.

Newcastle United were being lauded for their start to the season just a fortnight ago. Now, fear appears to have set in on Tyneside.

But the Magpies are not alone.

They are not an exception. Rather, Newcastle are very much the rule as far as Premier League clubs are concerned, just as Shakespeare suggested.

Look around the Premier League and, perhaps outside of the two Manchester clubs and Tottenham Hotspur, appraisals and reviews abound. Sometimes it is merely internal, with owners considering their manager's future - as is rumoured to be the case at Chelsea - while elsewhere it is predominantly external, like at Arsenal where a section of supporters believe Arsene Wenger simply has to go. At other clubs, it is both.

Often such 'crises' are overblown, and they are merely temporary setbacks, but in the world of social media and 24-hour news they quickly become far more extreme than they actually are.

Perhaps the most extreme example is at Goodison Park. Some Everton fans were predicting a genuine assault on the top four and a tilt at the Europa League before the season started.

By early-November, the Ronald Koeman era had already become the recent past, the Blues were out of Europe already and Everton now appear set for a season of struggle.

Frank de Boer, meanwhile, was afforded just 450 Craig lost his job at minutes of Premier League game time - giving him the shortest managerial reign in terms of gametime over the past 25 years - at Crystal Palace before his brave new dawn at Selhurst Park disappeared behind dark clouds.

At West Ham United, Slaven Bilic had seemingly been a game away from the sack for more than a year before finally he was put out of his misery.

Then you have Leicester City, whose cut-throat approach saw Claudio Ranieri dismissed just months after lifting the Premier League title, while successor Shakespeare was only afforded until mid-October of the following season before he was Leicester dispensed with. Swansea City, too, are having doubts about Paul Clement - the man who led them from the brink to survival last season, but whose stock appears to have fallen rapidly.

Even Stoke City and West Bromwich Albion, who have so far stuck with Mark Hughes and Tony Pulis respectively, appear to be suffering from identity crises at the moment.

Should they stick with what they have and all but confirm their topflight status for next term, or take a risk by bringing in managers who could potentially take them to the next level? …

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