I have thought Newcastle United were on the path to another relegation ever since we finished fifth and targeted eighth for the following season.

A strategic retreat is one of the hardest things in the world to pull off. Once you concede ground, you can never tell how far back you’ll be pushed back.

Armies in retreat quickly become refugees in headlong flight without morale or discipline, looking only to get away from the war-zone. Green reinforcements sent to stem the tide instead join the flood.

So I’m worried that so many fans are now clutching for the positives they now discern in possible relegation.

People say relegation will mean Ashley can kiss goodbye to getting his money back. Instead it offers him a short in-house route that doesn’t rely on waiting for a buyer at all.

About half the money is a loan. A loan he can call in at any time. As long as Newcastle United has assets, Ashley won’t lose his money. You can bet on that.

He wouldn’t! He couldn’t?

Well, here’s one he made earlier.

Sports Direct satellite USC was put into administration by Ashley last January.

The first indication the staff had was when 50 Sports Direct trucks turned up at the factory to transfer the stock to Shirebrook. They got 15 minutes notice they’d been sacked.

It turned out to have been a controversial but legal “pre-pack” administration.

A few days later, USC, was bought up by Republic, another satellite of Sports Direct.

We think there will be life after Mike.

But the truth is that nothing he has swallowed has ever been regurgitated back onto the market.

Instead it dissolves in the belly of the beast until it is entirely digested.

Does anyone remember the last root and branch review?

Llambias resigned, though he was later parachuted into Rangers alongside Barry Leach to put as much of the club in hock to Sports Direct as they could before they were ejected.

The other memorable outcome was the re-employment of Joe Kinnear. And the announcement that cup runs were anathema to Premier League survival.

This is what happens when a man who admits he has had zero impact in nine years keeps putting himself in charge of reviews.

As for Lee Charnley, he is a serviceable fellow, under whose stewardship the leasehold for Strawberry Place slipped smoothly from the club.

Whatever is built on Lee’s watch, it won’t be a football team.

The same names crop up around Ashley all the time….Llambias, Forsey, Leach, Wise, Pardew, Kinnear, Bishop, The Redknapps, Carr.

mike ashley

Like a child, he puts his favourite toys in charge of things. Humpty can be propaganda chief, Teddy Edwards in charge of munitions, Sausage Dog is head of the secret police.

So don’t expect him to scout far and wide for new talent to replace any heads that may roll.

Remember, we didn’t even head-hunt Rafa. He wandered by like Don Quixote, looking for a windmill to tilt at.

Perhaps he already feels more like Davy Crockett, trying to remember just why he thought joining The Alamo was such a good idea.

The players can’t buy a win at any level.

The cycle between fans demanding the dropping of a player and demanding his recall is down to a week.

The owner, meanwhile, has chosen now to express his regret at buying the club and warn us not to come crying to him over the empty coffers.

If relegation comes and Benitez leaves, there’ll be no positives.

Not for the fans.

Let’s pray we stay up.