With Mike Ashley rarely at St James Park these days, when the cameras focus on the Directors Box and the forlorn figure of Lee Charnley comes into view, he is the one who personifies the mess that Newcastle United  find themselves in yet again.

Inspirational isn’t the word that springs to mind but exactly how much power does Lee Charnley have and what he is responsible (to be blamed) for?

The last year has seen Mike Ashley and his PR people keen for people to believe that power is in the hands of Lee Charnley and others on the board.

This process accelerated as disaster gets ever nearer and reaching new heights when Mike Ashley gave a series of interviews both in print and on camera, saying that what went on at Newcastle United was nothing to do with him. An extra incentive for these press statements was no doubt the potentially very very damaging disability discrimination case brought by Jonas Gutierrez against Mike Ashley and his club.

There is a feeling amongst many fans that Lee Charnley earns his money by standing there and taking the abuse on behalf of the owner, a fall guy who accepts the blame.

The fact that in two years as Managing Director, Charnley has never spoken on behalf of the club in any TV interview or open press conference, makes it very hard to believe that he is really running the club, rather than as a front for whichever faceless/nameless people really make the decisions under Mike Ashley’s guidance.

Recently, it was revealed just how much every Managing Director (or equivalent) at each Premier League club earned.

Lee Charnley was by far the lowest paid, with some Premier League bosses earning around 25 times what the Newcastle MD does, with even the recently departed Sunderland boss Margaret Byrne earning six times more.

It doesn’t exactly add up does it…

A couple of articles on The Mag yesterday caught my attention:

Article by Leazes Park Ender on Sunday 27 March:

‘We’re lucky to have him (Benitez). It’s a massive coup and I’m amazed that Charnley managed to pull it off.’

John Carver speaking on Sunday 27 March:

“It (Rafa Benitez) is a brilliant appointment, and one of the best we’ve had in all honesty since Bobby Robson.

“It is a great coup for Lee Charnley and he’s been under massive amounts of pressure, so he had to go and get somebody with the CV that Rafa has.”

I find it all very strange considering all the negotiations by Newcastle United with Rafa Benitez were said to have been carried out by ‘intermediaries’.

Then on the day that Rafa was unveiled, when he was pictured arriving at St James Park before the official announcement, it was stated that this was the first time that Lee Charnley had actually met the new Manager.

Obviously there are such things as telephones but I find it hard to think of Charnley as some kind of ‘Mr Big’ sitting back and pulling the strings of minions doing the negotiations on his behalf.

I don’t honestly know if Lee Charnley is any good at his job, I have never even heard him speak so it is hard to form any real opinion other than on the various facts which you can interpret – such as what he is paid and the lack of any kind of visible leadership from him.

All we ever have are pre-prepared statements sent to the media with Lee Charnley’s name on, the same as Steve McClaren’s infamous emails and the laughable Joe Kinnear programme notes which the club eventually admitted were not written by JFK himself.

Newcastle United suffer from a lack of strong leadership throughout and of course if Rafa Benitez stays on after this season that would be a huge step in the right direction.

However, that has to be just the start and people put in place throughout the club, on and offer, who inspire confidence and are ambassadors for our great club.