Is It Time To Give Credit To Mike Ashley?
The final whistle is still ringing in most of our ears and the sense of relief draining out of us but I feel the time is right to evaluate the performance of our owner Mike Ashley.
Now firstly, I want to say that there are things that have happened under Ashley’s reign that are unforgivable. Would we have ever gone down under a different owner? It’s debatable, but probably not. However, over the last 2 years there are very few things I can be critical of our owner for.
A good place to start is player recruitment. Now over the past 2 years we have bought significantly well. The majority of fans have no problem with the end of the so called ‘trophy signings’. I would gladly take an unknown French recruit with hunger and enthusiasm over a washed up England has been like Michael Owen.
The likes of Santon, Cabaye and Sissoko have arrived for a fraction of their true value and represent the type of player we want going forward. After all this is the same man who in his early years at the club had to put up with shelling out horrendous wages for signings such as Viduka, Geremi and Xisco. Of course the latter was down to his recruitment of Dennis Wise but is this not the role currently held by Graham Carr. Now while he is referred to as simply our chief scout, do Carr’s recruitments not seem to be consistent from before Pardew to our current state now? In essence what I’m suggesting is how many of these signings are Pardew’s? After all he is very much a yes man. Nevertheless, what I would suggest that out of the last 4 transfer windows we have performed well and improved the playing squad significantly in 3 of them. The odd one out is of course last summer.
Now to be honest I was always in the camp that the most important thing was for us to keep our best players, the likes of Ba, Cisse, Colo, Cabaye and Tiote. By bringing through some of the youth players to support the first team we should have been more than comfortable. Now hindsight is a great thing and I’m sure many reading would have been disappointed last summer but at the end of day we all prayed to keep those players and Ashley did that. The fact he recognised his mistake and significantly backed his manager in January deserves credit.
The situation with Ba was a difficult one. Look at it from Ashley’s perspective when we signed him. A player in his mid 20s with six month’s premiership experience and a very questionable knee, which has seen him fail a medical at stoke. A 3 year deal with a low release fee seemed a fair deal. If Newcastle had offered Ba as much as his representatives would have liked with a 5 year contract on £70,000, there would have been no release fee, but they would also have looked like idiots. But unfortunately there was no evidence to suggest that and Newcastle were just unlucky that Ba became such a star.
Looking at the situation regarding St. James’ Park is obviously sensitive. We all know that’s what it is and always will be but unfortunately these are the times we live in. if we can get 5-10 million for sponsorship you have to take it. The reality is that can be difference between having 1 good striker or 2 and maybe the difference between qualifying for Europe and not.
Finally, the contract signed by Pardew wasn’t received with much criticism at the time. In reality it’s not worth the paper it’s written on given the likely get out clauses. However, what the club needed was stability, a long-term plan, and he was right to try and show the fans this was the way forward. Let’s not forget that the majority of us were sick of the hiring and firing culture at the club.
It is the responsibility of our owner to protect the future and financial state of this club and he has done superbly well to bring us back into profit as a football club.
The fact that the chants have long diminished asking for his departure suggests I am not alone in support for our owner’s strategy. There won’t be any statues, there won’t be any “there’s only one Mike Ashley” chants and there won’t be tears when he is gone.
Despite this the time is right to trust him now, he has learned from his mistakes and personally I hope his next move is to bring in a new manager.
After all if you believe Pardew, it’s not his fault and all Mike’s!
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