FAO Mike Ashley:
Dear Mr Ashley,
This time last year, with Newcastle languishing badly near the bottom of the Premier League, I wrote a piece for The Mag entitled “Newcastle’s Rotten Core”.
The main focus of the piece was the sorry plight, and seemingly endless shortcomings, of Newcastle United under your ownership. The hideous lack of ambition that emitted from St. James Park for so long, along with the sheer contempt shown toward cup competitions that had driven so many fans to the end of their tether.
Shamefully, under your stewardship, Newcastle United’s sole interest had always been to spend the bare minimum in order to maintain a place on the super-rich Premier League gravy train and to skim all the financial rewards that came with it.
Throughout your era, the club has been filled with ‘yes-men’ and lackeys, who have shared none of the hopes and desires of those who travel the length and breadth of England’s green and pleasant land, in the name of Newcastle United.
Your chief executives, your managers, and even the players you have recruited, have had no desire whatsoever to make our club great again. Their motivations varying from getting their ‘big money move’, to huge financial reward, to just plain, keeping themselves in a job.
In the summer however, something seemed to change.
Following your appointment of Rafael Benitez on a permanent contract, it looked like the penny had finally dropped on what many of us have known for a long time. The realisation that if you are to ever succeed with Newcastle United, faith needed to be placed in someone more capable than just another dutiful subordinate.
Someone with the knowledge, experience and reputation to clean up the mess following relegation and once again raise the club from it’s knees.
After years of anger, apathy and frustration, a new found sense of optimism has been palpable in recent months. It seemed that you had finally found a manager with the stature and reliability required to be entrusted with your precious cash, and in turn, be handed the keys to the kingdom.
It’s such a simple theory, Mike. Give Benitez – arguably one of the top ten managers in the world – the resources he needs, and he will deliver the club back to the Premier League hallowed ground, and potentially, beyond.
Up until about a month or so ago, all had been going to plan. As we all know, over the summer Benitez assembled a strong Championship squad (at a very reasonable nett cost!) and the club were looking comfortable in the automatic promotion places.
As this is Newcastle United however, we all know by now that the next self-inflicted crisis is never too far away. Mid-way through the January transfer window, worrying reports began to emerge from Barrack Road. Ominous claims that you had once again decided to meddle in football affairs.
Alarm bells began to ring following reports that you had put the reins on Rafa’s power, reinstating Graham Carr as the main player in Newcastle’s transfer affairs.
As a fan base, we still have painful memories of your other meddling moments which have decimated the club in the past. Dennis Wise’s dealings behind Kevin Keegan’s back and Joe Kinnear’s bewildering Director of Football appointment being amongst the most notorious.
At times Mike, it almost feels like you get a kick from sabotaging your own club every now and again…..but surely not even you could’ve hit the self-destruct button during this most optimistic period of your reign…..had you!??
By 11pm on the 31st of January those fears appeared to have been justified. In classic Newcastle United style, despite the huge profits made on Sissoko and Wijnaldum in the summer, we had failed to make any additions to the squad. In an all too familiar fashion, rather than spend and strengthen where needed, you once again chose to gamble on what we already have being enough.
Quite clearly for a man of the calibre and professionalism of Rafael Benitez, this approach is not enough.
Luckily for us all, Benitez kept his cool. He’s been round the block enough times to know not to throw his toys out of the pram after one tiff with an owner – albeit, a significant one.
However, this coming summer is potentially huge for Newcastle United. If we go up, Rafa will need sufficient backing to overhaul the squad and produce a competitive Premier League side. If, in your infinite wisdom you deny his requests for a second time, who could blame him for walking away?
If you, Mike Ashley, cannot trust a manager of the calibre of Benitez to run the club, then it’s quite clear that you can’t trust anyone. You and Graham Carr may as well just run the team yourselves – it’s effectively what you’re trying to do anyway!
Should the worst happen and Rafa discovers that you have indeed moved the goalposts, then be warned, it could well be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for many fans. If Benitez was to walk, there is a good chance many fans will follow.
After all these years of emptiness that your reign has bestowed upon us, Rafael Benitez is more than just a manager for the Newcastle faithful – Benitez represents the last hope for Newcastle United under your ownership and the sole reason many of us still believe.
Back in May, Newcastle United proudly announced that Benitez would have “Day-to-day responsibility for ALL football-related matters at the club”. If come the summer, that statement no longer applies and another Pardew-esque puppet brought in to replace him, all hell will then break loose.
The rotten core that you have infected the club with over the past decade will not only have infested the boardroom – it will have spread to the terraces too.
It’s your call, Mike. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.
It’s So Simple Mike, Don’t Rock the F*****g Boat, Let Rafa Manage & Watch us Flourish!
(All contributions from Newcastle fans welcome, send articles to [email protected])