First of all, congratulations are due to Eddie Howe on gaining his position as the top English manager in the Premier League. At least temporarily, he has overtaken Alan Pardew at Crystal Palace. On the way, he wiped the floor with former England manager, Steve McClaren. 

The home manager on Saturday has had a rough ride this week. Fresh from his favourite football getaway location, La Manga, he had a chance to put things right where he has had limited success this season. If supporters believed what McClaren says, this would have been a week to expect a march towards safety. 

The results have been clear. A defeat at Stoke, against the top British manager at the moment, might have been expected but there should have been the opportunity to get something. Hosting the least well resourced club in the Premier League should have been a no brainer. 

After an 18 day break, supporters were itching to see how we could look forward to the relegation run in. It seems fair to say that an hour before the Stoke game, the team sheet was met with incredulity. 

Fair enough, Townsend was an injury risk, which we will come back to. Changes had to be made. One name stood out on the team sheet like a beacon – Yoan Gouffran. 

In fairness to Gouffran, he started off as a decent utility player. Back in December 2013, it seemed that a switch was flicked. After scoring in 5 home games in a row, one short of current Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill’s record, Pardew subbed him against Arsenal. 

Things have not been the same since. Apart from a short flurry in January 2015, he has done nothing else. In the meantime, on the bench were Aarons and Perez. 

Fast forward to Saturday, the team sheet was once again met with incredulity. Not only was Gouffran on the starting sheet again, so was Emmanuelle Riviere, who has scored one miscued goal in his 24 league appearances. On the bench were Aarons and Mitrovic. 

We said we would come back to Townsend and so we do. Along with Shelvey, we applaud his signing. For so much of the season, McClaren’s sides have lacked balance. His natural tendency seems to play two defensive midfielders. The vast majority of attacks have come through the centre or on the right. 

Towsend is the 2nd naturally left sided attacking player that Newcastle have bought this season, he and Thauvin emptying Newcastle United coffers to the tune of £25m. Thauvin himself started only 3 of the 13 games that he appeared in. 

There is of course a 3rd left winger, Rolando Aarons. His 3 starts have been at left back. In total, left wingers have been started in the left wing position 6 times in 29 games. McClaren repeatedly makes selections that lack natural width. 

Before the Bournemouth game, the players apparently issued a statement to say that they were behind the manager. The players, through their actions, effectively showed a subliminal 2 fingered salute to the manager in the last 20 minutes, Perez demonstrating why he should have started through his goal, the front 3 being a balance of Aarons, Perez and Mitrovic. Perhaps Aarons’ presence created the space for Ayoze? 

Meanwhile, in defence, Howe illustrated to McClaren how they should be organised and motivated. Bournemouth pressed each and every Newcastle player in possession, particularly in the final third of the pitch. 

Also, in the last 20 minutes, McClaren’s defence stepped further and further back, allowing Bournemouth to run through and score twice. The Premier League apprentice gave the former England international manager a resounding lesson. 

It is hard to interpret McClaren’s team selections and tactics. It is barely conceivable that he felt them to be right. It is much more conceivable to many supporters that he is looking for a pay off. His team sheets certainly appear something akin to a suicide note. 

It will not be the first time that we have highlighted McClaren’s recent track record. Sacked or walked out from Wolfsburg, Twente, Forest and Derby, a pay off from Newcastle would represent his 6th departure since 2010. 

We also come to explore McClaren’s procrastination with judgement day. His early pronouncements were to judge him after 10, then 12 games, next after the transfer window, now he is pleading for time to finish the job. Whether that job is to turn us around or take us down is not so clear. 

Other current managers have not needed time, Ranieiri, Bilic, Koeman, Hughes, Pulis, Flores, Guidolin, Pochettino to name a few. 

The manager seemed to be passing the buck to some of the players, something which we should explore a little. A good proportion of the squad have played in World Cups, Sissoko, Wijnaldum, Janmaat as well as the absent Krul, Coloccini, and Tiote. Some have helped qualify for other major competitions, Shelvey, Elliott, Dummett, Townsend, Cisse. There are yet more internationals. 

It is said that a poor workman always blames his tools. The problem on match day is not the quality, it is their organisation and motivation. Those comes squarely down to the man who deploys resources, the manager. 

The evidence of his track record, his failures, his tactics all points to the manager being the one who needs to change or be changed. 

So who should we go for? 

On this site, we are clear that the fossilised approach of English mangers in their 50s is the wrong approach here. We have advocated investment of a portion of the TV riches in proven success both in England and Europe here. 

Although we may be accused of a knee jerk reaction, these pages carry evidence from last year as to our concerns. Sadly, and it gives us no pleasure to say so, McClaren has proved us right. 

If Ashley stays true to form we can expect a Moyes, Rodgers, Pearson or Sherwood, in other words a British manager who has achieved little. Like McClaren, we fear that these may not be good enough for what is now a franchise in global football rather than a team in a merely English league. 

The one thing that is clear is that McClaren must go. We have known this for some time (here). The big question is whether Ashley has the balls to protect his investment. Does he have the nous to realise that his MD, Charnley, doesn’t have the wherewithal to run a football club either. 

As the old phrase goes, he who hesitates is lost. Perhaps Ashley is far too late anyway. If not, can we expect Benitez or Di Matteo to take charge against Leicester?

However, with Charnley in charge, don't bet against Warnock!