Mike Ashley lives his life in a determined wobble on the brave/foolhardy divide. A man who has made himself a billionaire by taking a risk on ailing brands and turning them into immensely profitable ventures is no stranger to a bold decision, as we saw on Saturday at the Madejski Stadium when Ashley opted to go top-two-undone with his shirt buttons despite being a husky man from Buckinghamshire rather than a lounge crooner from Atlantic City. It is this brand of dauntless leadership that has defined his tenure as the owner of Newcastle United, and was underlined this week when he handed eight-year contracts to the entire coaching staff, including manager Alan Pardew.
To say that eight-year managerial reigns at Premier League clubs are rare is like saying horses that can crochet detailed replicas of Bruegel’s The Triumph of Death are somewhat thin on the ground. Of the current twenty top-flight incumbents, nine have had their initials stitched onto their official club tracksuits for less than a year, and a further six for less than three years. André Villas-Boas, for example, has been trying to figure out the purpose of Aaron Lennon for less than three months so far – that’s barely enough time to learn the names of the security guards and canteen staff, even if you haven’t apparently overwritten all the sectors of your brain that handle interpersonal skills with tactical minutiae and handsomeness.
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