Football: Ardiles accused of lack of nerve

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The Independent Online
While Ossie Ardiles fights to keep his job as the manager of Tottenham, a senior figure at Newcastle United has been cheerfully relating why they sacked him.

Douglas Hall, son of the Newcastle chairman, Sir John Hall, and a director of the Premiership leaders, has said Ardiles was dismissed because he had lost his 'bottle'.

Hall, quoted in the club's official magazine Black and White, added of Ardiles' final days in charge in February, 1992: 'He did not know how to stop the slide. We would have gone down if he had stayed. If we had gone down we would have gone bankrupt. Kevin Keegan would not have been our manager and the last two years would not have happened.'

Ardiles was sacked after a 5-2 defeat at fellow strugglers Oxford United.

The match was watched by Hall who said: 'It was a shameful performance.

Definitely one of the worst I have seen from Newcastle in a lot of years as a supporter and director.'

Ardiles was summoned to a board meeting on the Monday and asked if he thought he could keep Newcastle up. In response, says the article, he shrugged his shoulders. 'That shrug, that gesture, was his death knell,' Hall said. 'It was obvious we could not keep him. Ossie's 'bottle' had gone.'

Ardiles was sacked on the Wednesday and Keegan appointed the same day.

Newcastle won their next match 3-0 at home to Bristol City in front of almost 30,000, and Keegan went on to keep them up and steer them to promotion the following season. Now, this season, they head the Premiership.

'Ossie was extemely popular in the boardroom,' Hall said. 'My father liked him immensely and still does. He would love to see him do really well at Tottenham.'

So would Alan Sugar, now Ardiles' chairman at Tottenham. We will soon know whether he has greater faith in Ardiles than Hall did, or whether he has reached the same conclusions.

Newcastle's cult hero, page 46