|Top Scorer||P Beardsley (17)|
After guiding Newcastle back to the First Division Arthur Cox dramatically resigned. The fans were up in arms believing that the board forced him out because they wanted someone in charge that they could control. However the fans’ fears appeared to be unfounded. The Newcastle directors decided to approach Jackie Charlton who was currently doing media work but who was making noises that he was prepared to return to management.
In his first press conference Charlton was typically blunt and the statements he made on that day were to prove prophetic He said that he was "shocked" to learn that the club was £700,000 in debt, but was not concerned stating it was a situation he had been in before and that United had been guilty in the past of "spending money like it was going out of fashion".
Many people were concerned that Charlton would bring an end to the free flowing football of the promotion season. Charlton replied that "I will do what is necessary and no part of the game will be neglected".
He suggested that he was "probably the first manager to understand the Geordie temperament - and I criticise it - they start demanding changes after two bad results". And he made it clear that he would be "out the door" as soon as he found out he was not wanted.
As well as the retiring Keegan, United also lost a number of other experienced players who had been key to the promotion: John Trewick and David Mills had already been granted free transfers and Terry Mcdermott soon followed them out the door after Charlton refused to accede to his demands. And with no new faces added during the summer United were one of the favourites for relegation.
Charlton was determined to change United's style of play from "beer and Skittles'' football to something more “professional” and with less risk. A quote from Chris Waddle’s biography sums it up perfectly: . "I don't want you to play 1-2's on goal, I want you to play 1-2's with God"......you can't get hurt as long as the ball's up in the clouds". It also led to Charlton marching onto the field at the end of the home game with Luton to give Peter Beardsley "the bollocking of a lifetime" for taking a player on at the end of the game rather than playing safe.
Eventually big strikers George Reilly and Tony Cunningham were signed, with Waddle and Beardsley being cast out to the flanks. The simple ploy was for the full backs to boot the ball up to the two big men and then for Beardsley and Waddle to "gallop up and down like demented dervishes" (as Beardsley describes it in his autobiography) to try and get on the end of the "second ball".
The tactics and new signings paid off to an extent, an improvement in results leading to an eventual 14th position with safety being gained despite conceding a "bloody awful" total of 78 goals (league and cup games combined).
Neither Waddle nor Beardsley enjoyed playing under Charlton and the former would be on his way during the summer.
Kit images copyright Historical Football Kits and reproduced by kind permission
Although Newcastle hit the top of the table after winning the first 3 games, no-one and least-of-all Jackie Charlton, expected the situation to last. Inevitably it was a tough season and after recording a goal difference of +30 in 1983/85 it was -25 this time around. Form at St. James' held up reasonably well, but after winning at Leicester on the opening day United failed to win on their travels again until May.
The opening victories were followed by 3 defeats and then a series of draws as Charlton revamped the formation in an effort to stiffen up the defence. By the end of the year the Magpies had only managed another 3 wins and had slumped to 18th.
A New Year's day victory over Sunderland proved a confidence-booster and although they remained inconsistent their home form was just good enough to keep them out of trouble as they finished 6 places and 3 points above the relegation positions.
Total number of games: 48
Total number of players used: 24
01: (2) Carr > Thomas
02: (2) Brown
03: (5) Ryan > Saunders > Anderson/Wharton
04: (7) Carney > Heard > McCreery
05: (3) Andersen > Clarke
06: (4) Roeder
07: (3) McDonald
08: (5) Wharton > Cunningham
09: (4) Waddle
10: (3) Beardsley
11: (4) McCreery > Heard
|Heard Pat||09/84||Sheff Wed||Exchange|
|Megson Gary||11/84||Nottm F||£110,000|
|Scott Kevin||12/84||Eppleton CW|
|Cunningham Tony||02/85||Man City||£75,000|
|Mills David||06/84||Middlesbrough (p/c)|
|Ryan John||09/84||Sheff Wed||Cash-Exchange|
|Saunders Wes||Bradford C|