Writer Ben Armstrong came up with an interesting article on Wednesday for his fellow Newcastle fans.

It was entitled ‘Why fans should even be grateful to Lee Charnley, Steve McClaren and Mike Ashley…’, it produced a lot of reaction and you can read it for yourself HERE.

Ben was interested in many of the varied comments left by other supporters so has decided to cover and answer a number of the points raised.


There were several points raised following my previous article.  I would like to address them in the spirit of debate.  I have used (sic) where errors are not my own, as is standard.

“There is no guarantee we will win the championship”

Absolutely right, I wrote in hope more than knowledge, as I think most people do when talking about the future in a positive way.  However, history is a good marker, and the last time we dropped down we strode the league and came straight back up.  This time we have Rafa and players with Championship experience, so I am (possibly over) confident.  A good point though, and it is up to the players to retain some perspective, as fans, we should be expecting weekly victories (in my opinion).

“Don’t suppose it had the slightest remote possability (sic) that it was anything other than the ‘fat boy’ cr4pping himself about missing out on so much Won*a.”

Again, a very good point, and I certainly wouldn’t disagree with it.  However, the point I was making was not to question the motivation of MA’s actions, I think we all know what they are (and definitely aren’t), but to look objectively at the results.  Keep in mind that everything I wrote was with the tacit, and actually explicitly expressed, understanding that I abhor everything about the man and what he has done.

That is well documented by myself and others and I didn’t feel it was necessary to go into too much detail about that when it was already well established.  I know that if the article becomes too lengthy it is easy to lose concentration for some people.

“You don’t know Charnleys (sic) input or indeed how much Rafa was offered to stay…”

Nobody does, apart from the men in question.

What I write is published in the ‘opinion’ section, therefore is based almost entirely on rumour and media, which is often complete balls.  I am basing my assumptions on what I have read and what I have surmised, so you may be right, Rafa might be here just for the money, either way, it needed somebody to sanction the money or somebody to offer the money based on a budget.

It is my impression that Lee Charnley had quite a significant role and that money was not the key (or only) factor in Rafa’s decision.  That is notwithstanding the uselessness he has demonstrated on many many other occasions.

“…the appointment of Rafa was probably more to do with the fans (sic) adoration and the money anyway…”

I’m sure that the fans adoration had a significant effect on Rafa’s decision, but he is a businessman and if the deal wasn’t right, and he didn’t receive certain assurances, then I doubt it would have been the ‘only’ reason he stayed.

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Having said that, he also appears to be a bloody good bloke, and the way he has conducted himself has been exemplary, so I am also sure that money was not the be all and end all.

“I suspect the author was Tongue (sic) in cheek regarding Ashley and Penfold” … “…or he’s an idiot…”

Not so much tongue in cheek as an attempt to be objective.

I am able to separate my emotions from my thoughts, and to categorise ‘good things’ from ‘bad things’ in such a way that I can recognise the positive aspects of people’s actions (whatever their motivations) and consider them in isolation from the negative ones.  In other words, just because they are figures of hate, and quite rightly, it doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate when something is done right, for whatever reason.

Again, I direct you to read Adrian Holliday’s paper entitled ‘Small Cultures’ for a broader understanding of this concept.  As for whether I’m an idiot; quite possibly, I repeatedly open myself to criticism by writing things which are against the grain and unfashionable, and which I sometimes do not fully believe myself, but which I feel ought to be said in the name of balance.

The Mag has been criticised in the past for being too negative, I don’t subscribe to that thought, but I took it upon myself to offer an alternative view.  So yes, probably an idiot.  I do have 2 Master’s degrees though, with a PhD in the pipeline, so I’m not completely thick!

“Ashley is the only reason expectations are so low in the first place man!”

This is completely true!  I suppose it is a bit like setting a house on fire, then when it’s almost burnt to the ground putting the fire out and then getting Sir Norman Foster in to design the rebuild.

“Rafa signed for two reasons only 1) He was given whatever he was asked for… 2) He felt the passin (sic) of the fans.”

There may have been more than two reasons, but yes, he was almost certainly given what he wanted, and I’m sure he did feel the passion of the fans, but I also think he was probably of the opinion, like many others, that Newcastle United can be a force in the Premier League.  If he felt that he was joining an also-ran, dried husk of a failed club, with no hope of ever achieving anything beyond 17th place (like Sunderland) then I doubt he would have risked his reputation on us.

The point is, that whatever we see of Charnley (because I doubt he has even met Mike Ashley yet), there must be something about him able to convince someone of the ilk of Benitez that Newcastle are a club going places (other than down).

“…we only signed him (Sissoko) because due to (sic) mismanagement of the club”

At risk of sounding like a broken record, I would have to agree with this, it was desperate times calling for desperate measures.

However, I will admit to having never heard of Sissoko before he signed, the same goes for Cabaye, and Perez (in fact, I’m pretty clueless about European football since Channel Four stopped showing Football Italia).  Beyond that I had no idea his contract was running down.

It is Carr’s job to know that stuff so I don’t have to, and the fact he knew it over and above the other clubs who could potentially have signed any of those three for next to nowt is to me, quite impressive.  I distinctly remember the Yohan Cabaye song, and although we sold him against most of our wishes (but not his), we did make a fair packet.  So while errors have undoubtedly been made, there are a few undeniable successes.

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Perhaps somebody with a spreadsheet fetish could calculate the success rates of our scouts over the last 20 years, I’ll bet Carr is fairly high on the list, but that’s guesswork, so I’ll leave it to the experts.

“any profit made on Sissoko is swallowed up by the millions wasted on Cabella, Thauvin (etc.)”

As far as I’m aware we still own those two players; Cabella scoring 6 times for Marseille and Thauvin scoring twice for the same team.  I don’t know what kind of a fee we will receive for them when they leave, but they both have good reputations on the continent so I’m sure we will recoup most of what we outlaid.  Again, this is speculation, so we will have to wait and see, perhaps Rafa will have them back!

“I also can’t believe he thinks that the club are ‘rightly’ asking £35m for Sissoko.  There are only two possible reasons why the value was set so high, either to put clubs off buying him or so that if somebody comes in with a lower starting offer it may be somewhere around the £20m mark that they actually want.”

I think you answered your own question…but for sake of argument, as far as the watching world knows Sissoko is a player who courageously battled against relegation (we know he didn’t) in a side made up of players inferior to him (debatable), but despite this broke into the starting eleven of a France team who ‘should’ have won the Euros.

They saw his outstanding performances in the final two games in which he clearly outclassed Paul Pogba, the player valued at £100m.  £100m.  He was better than a player valued at £100m.  So, good news for NUFC, because now we can point to those games and say ‘he’s like that all the time, honest, so we’ll be giving him away at only £35m’.

I think we all know that the only reason he didn’t play like that every match is because he couldn’t be arsed, and actually, there were plenty of occasions when he did play like he did for France, usually towards the end of matches.  So it would be remiss of us to undervalue him in the market, as somebody has pointed out previously, we hold all the cards in this game, he has 3 years left on his contract!

Remember, this is the same sales team who got £35m for Andy Carroll…

“I stopped reading when I got to the section where you said you felt sorry for Steve Mc”

That seems a bit harsh.  Steve McClaren is a good and decent man who gave everything he had to make the team successful.  He was bullied into accepting players he didn’t want and on too many occasions let down by players who did not perform as they should.

I remember for most of last season performances being actually not too bad, and a sight better than under Souness, Gullit, Kinnear, Carver or Pardew.  In the end, his best wasn’t good enough and he, we, and all associated with the club suffered.

What I’ve said above is moot anyway, because without reading the article in its entirety you forego the ability to comment, I might have said it was all a joke and SMc should be strung up by his bo**ocks (I didn’t).

“This is an article designed to stir up negative feedback and provoke.”

As I mentioned earlier, this is semi-true.  I like to go against the received wisdom of the masses, to provide a counter-argument to the generally accepted perception.  The rebuttals in the comments are welcomed, and often are considered and wholly accurate.  This is my riposte and that is the nature of debate, without debate we would never move forward with our knowledge and understanding.

I fully expect people to respond in the contemptuous way they did to the original article, which is great (personal insults however, aren’t).

“I don’t think the author is that bright.”

Speak of the Devil.