In this world, ‘natural justice’ does not often prevail; but if, come May, the football club formerly known as Newcastle United falls off the Premiership gravy train, no one should complain.
The Steve McClaren debacle – his appointment, his failure and the shambolic way in which it has ended, is just the latest in a 9 year saga of indecision and incompetence which leads to inevitable failure.
The Mike Ashley years have seen the club shun the very spirit of sport, surrender its soul to a corporate leech and shrink its future potential by a callous policy of spin which has exploited and divided the fanbase.
When things go wrong in organisations – in government, at work or in public institutions there are justifiably, calls for proper accountability. In the case of NUFC there is none, because the fans have been fed on a sterile drip of half-truths and lies for so long, they have been numbed into accepting the unacceptable.
Instead, all we have is the latest calls for the latest sap manager to be sacked! After 9 years, the dictatorship of Mike Ashley is complete and so adept at manipulating a large proportion of a depressingly malleable public.
You don’t survive for 9 years lurching from crisis to crisis without learning something in this game. Mike has become an expert in surrounding himself with toadies and lackeys – individuals who are promoted way beyond their abilities, guaranteed to provide unerring loyalty until their deficiencies are exposed and they become expendable in order to preserve the status quo. Since Chris Mort left the club there has been a procession of these type of appointments; Llambias, JFK, Wise, Pardew, Carver, Carr, Charnley etc.
After Mike appeared in front of the Sky cameras last May, mixing his metaphors so badly that promising more money for donkeys sounded like a threat to commit animal cruelty, it seemed that the threat of relegation and mass boycott from the fans had signalled a long hoped for sea change.
Unfortunately, no doubt traumatised by his tv appearance, he turned to his pr ‘guru’ to come up with a ruse to make sure we wouldn’t have to see his fat face for a while. The Keith Bishop buffer zone of buffoons that made up the newly appointed board, was entrusted with finding a new manager and thus was set up – the new blame deflector shield.
Incredibly, when they appointed McClaren – (please note: the most qualified candidate who was willing to work within such restrictive boundaries) they also gave him a board position!
Who on God’s Earth, least of all a multi billionaire corporate leviathan, or even a former tea boy-made-good would provide a complication to the duty of a board of directors to deliver the inevitable fact of life to a football manager: the sack!
Who will pay the price for McClaren? Probably not Charnley…not likely, good old Bobby Concur. Possibly the failed former Northampton manager, but quite likely no one, for a while yet anyway.
The buck stops with the owner – it always has and always will. Of course I don’t expect him to hold his hands up or announce he’s leaving anytime soon – humility and common decency don’t come into the equation, not when there’s more money to be made.
The £80m of club money (largely wasted, it has to be said) belatedly handed out since the beginning of last summer to reverse the rot of years of neglect, is not a reason for his defence but an indictment on the cynical way our owner has used and abused the sporting institution of NUFC to advance his own SD brand. Does he deserve the tv cash bonanza?
The facts and the figures of our demise off the pitch are available in the public domain and from all good sources. Once we were outperforming Spurs financially and challenging the top revenue makers, now we are no marks.
Where once the club owed the banks money, we now owe our owner a lot more – a non-decreasing debt that is a millstone. The evidence for our on-pitch demise is there for all to see. Leicester, Southampton, Swansea and Bournemouth have all played 3rd tier football in the time Mike Ashley has owned Newcastle United.
It may not be palatable to some and it’s certainly not desirable for many, but relegation is what Newcastle have been heading towards, long before Steve McClaren’s name was pulled out of the bargain bucket.
Although Rafa Benitez – a thoroughly decent and proven manager – is interested in taking the job, it could already be too little, too late. But if by a miracle we escape the mighty drop, we should be thankful that at least the club retains some attraction to talent and the owner should be eternally grateful to the Spaniard for the ‘stay of execution’ – but I doubt he will be.
It certainly won’t be a match made in heaven for Mike but one made with political expediency and the ultimate survivor/gambler’s instinct – Rafa has a reputation for being straight talking and demanding of control and won’t be closeted by fools or powerful individuals of lesser talent.
He also holds people to account and acts on principle – he resigned at Valencia over broken transfer promises stating;
“They promised me a sofa and gave me a lamp.”
With Mike’s tat empire already expanding into the home furnishings market, there could be a lot of potential for future conflict!
Whatever happens, the chances are the merry go round will continue as long as Ashley remains at the helm. He is the common denominator in the almighty car crash that is NUFC.
Relegation is what he deserves and that is why he is the number one entry in the blame game.
1) Mike Ashley