So what makes this current crisis any different from the many that have come and gone during the Ashley era?
We’ve all seen the string of gutless performances, the lack of investment, the selling of our prized assets leading to the threats of boycotts and the hurling of season tickets. But this current impasse seems to be coming to a head mainly because it must now appear obvious to the players themselves, that whatever plans (five year ones or whatever) that were used to lure them here, have quite obviously been proved to be lies. And what prospective player would want to join us now?
The JFK assassination has thrown up all sorts of contradictions. Ashley’s stance has been filtered out to us, that he wasn’t prepared to put up with Joe’s incompetence anymore. The breaking point apparently that of the selling of Cabaye for less than he wanted. To compound this, his inability to sign a replacement or any of the players the club had targeted, then add in the incessant embarrassing babbling to anyone who would listen to him of the club’s inside (mis)information.
This is all perfectly reasonably Mike, we would all agree with you and have done likewise, but wasn’t this the real reason he was brought in for in the first place? If not it begs the question; did Ashley really think that Kinnear was up to the job?
The fact that Ashley has seemingly distanced himself from Kinnear (while Pardew has conversely stuck up for him!) could hopefully be a good sign? Hopefully someone with credibility will be brought in as a replacement, or Graham Carr will be restored to prominence. Whatever way, it will be a crucial summer. If reassurances to the players and fans alike are not met, and if major investment is not made to the squad, both will start to desert in flocks.
So which way will it go? There has been some positive mutterings from the club that come summer four quality players will be brought in, and a clear out of those surplus to requirements, heading out in the opposite direction. It’s on the prospects of just who will be sold (or now who wants to leave) that will be crucial.
If Ashley is not to reinvest then a systematic asset stripping looks increasing likely, with Krul, Tiote, Santon and Ben Arfa being cashed in and shown the door. You couldn’t really blame them if they’ve already packed their bags and are now waiting in the departure lounge of their own accord.
If the theory of Ashley’s asset stripping of the club, until he has clawed back enough of that 0% loan that he very kindly lent himself is correct, then you suspect he missed a golden opportunity during January. What with survival almost guaranteed due to the points we had mercifully racked up before the New Year, you’d have reckoned more than Cabaye would’ve been sold off?
Does this give us hope for the summer? We’ve seen it all before, and heard all the false promises, haven’t we? But this time it really does feel like last chance saloon.