US media are at least marginally less likely to run with rumors and speculation than their British counterparts. So it was jarring to hear an NBC commentator - albeit a London journalist - report Monday evening that Steve McClaren is under pressure to deliver better results for Newcastle United in the coming weeks, with Brendan Rodgers looming as a potential replacement.
The journalist was the Daily Mail's Neil Ashton, and the setting was NBC Sports Network's live transfer deadline show, a new experience for Americans who are have only recently begun paying enough attention to know what a transfer window is. Host Rebecca Lowe seemed taken aback by the speculation, returning to the subject later when Ashton raised Mark Hughes as a candidate to replace Roberto Martinez: "First Brendan Rodgers to Newcastle, now Mark Hughes to Everton!" But while Ashton's comments were devoid of sources, they seem to have a logical basis, particularly in the case of Rodgers.
It's amazing what fear can do to a miser. With the prospect of relegation torching a mega-million-pound hole in his iron pockets, Mike Ashley was finally motivated to invest in players for a return on the pitch rather than the balance sheet. "Biggest spenders Newcastle" flashed the graphic on NBC, like a dispatch from a parallel universe. If TV incentives existed for success in the Premier League and not just survival, Newcastle United might be run like a real football club.
But the opportunity to purchase safety has now passed. The only way out of danger now is to use the talent at hand. If the points don't come in the next few weeks, it would be almost surprising if Newcastle didn't swap at the top for the home stretch. Given Ashley's sudden willingness to spend, a name manager might now have interest. Bookmakers tipped Rodgers to Newcastle four months ago. Perhaps they saw this coming. All they had to do was what they do best: Follow the money.