Newcastle United must sack Steve McClaren before it is too late to save the club from relegation, says former owner Sir John Hall.
Newcastle are staring relegation to Championship in the face for the second time in seven years after a 3-1 home defeat by Bournemouth added to their angst under McClaren, whose side have lost at least three goals eight times in the Premier League this season.
Newcaslte are one point from safety behind Sunderland and on the same points total as Norwich in what is looking like a fight between three teams to finish 17th and avoid the drop.
Steve is not getting them to play and it's probably time he goes. You've got to find someone to harness the team.
Former England coach McClaren was appointed last June after the club narrowly avoided relegation on the final day of last season under John Carver, but it has been another almighty struggle this season with Newcastle winning only six times in the league.
"I'm like every fan - utterly depressed. If I was Mike Ashley, I would be tearing my hair out," said Hall.
"Something is not right there. Mike Ashley has put money in and they are not gelling.
Newcastle owner Mike Ashley in the stands
Image credit: Reuters
"It's got to come down to management. I would have someone in mind to bring in. At this moment we are prime candidates for relegation."
David Moyes has been linked with the job, but Hall is not sure he is the right figure to succeed McClaren.
"I'm out of touch with the managers but you need someone who can motivate the players and change the tactics," said Hall.
"Moyes is a nice fella. Whether he has got the strength of character, I don't know. But I say again to the fans - you've got to get behind them, it's no good booing, that won't help.
"We should not be in this position and we should be asking why."
OUR VIEW - SHOULD NEWCASTLE FIRE McCLAREN?
The question Ashley must ask himself is not whether he can afford to dismiss McClaren, but whether he can afford not to. Out of all the seasons a club could choose to go down, this must range as the worst when there is so much finance on offer from the new television deal next season. It is a huge risk to sack a manager with only nine games remaining, but there might be no option for Newcastle as they attempt to rescue their status among the elite. It is all the more galling for Newcastle when smaller clubs such as Bournemouth and Crystal Palalce look like they are going to avoid the drop on a fraction of the money spent at St James' Park.
Leicester might win the league having spent ten of millions of pounds less. Newcastle remain one of English football's biggest clubs, but they have not got it right on or off the park. For a club to spend £83m since last summer yet only assemble 24 points from 29 matches says enough about where they are right now. This is feeling eerily like 2009 when Alan Shearer was wheeled in to take over from Joe Kinnear in February that year only to suffer relegation three months later. Ashley has nine days until Newcastle visit Leicester, but McClaren might not be running the show then.