Is criticism of Mike Ashley at Newcastle United over the top?
I am just writing this sitting here in Hong Kong as I listen to numerous podcasts and read most articles in the press written about Newcastle United.
However, I never understand this constant statement by numerous journalists and football reporters about Alan Pardew’s time at Newcastle United. We are constantly told how Pardew did well considering he had his best players sold each season and not replaced by the owner Mike Ashley. I would just like to make some points on this argument and look at the players in question.
Andy Carroll – Newcastle were offered £35m for their forward who then handed in a transfer request to push through a move to Liverpool. Many Newcastle fans were unhappy with this sale as Carroll is a local lad and looked as if he was going to tear premiership defences apart for years to come. However, I don’t think you will find one person who would not agree that this was an excellent bit of business by Mike Ashley, considering the player’s injury record and form since leaving Newcastle.
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Demba Ba – Picked up by the scouting team on a free transfer and had a £7m release clause inserted into his contract; if Newcastle had not accepted this then they probably would not have been able to sign him. Newcastle tried many times to renew this contract without a release clause but Ba’s representatives refused. When Chelsea came calling he was always going to leave and there was nothing the club could do about it.
Yohan Cabaye – Bought for a bargain £4.5m due to the scouting network discovering a release clause in his contract. Arsenal offered £11m for Cabaye which was turned down immediately. The player then handed in a transfer request and went on strike, refused to play. The player made it clear he wanted to leave so Newcastle took the best option they could and accepted a payment of more than £20m from PSG in the following January.
Mathieu Debuchy – Arrived for £5m to Newcastle and is Cabaye’s best friend. When Cabaye left, Arsenal made an offer for £11m for Debuchy and while he didn’t hand in a transfer request the noises coming out of the club were that he wanted to go. Newcastle therefore doubled their money on a player who had impressed at the club and then found a replacement for less than half that fee in Janmaat, who many believe is a better full-back.
I therefore believe that this lack of ambition which is thrown at the club due to them selling their best players is unfair. All of the players who left wanted to leave and either handed in transfer requests, refused to sign a new contract, or in Cabaye’s case went on strike to push through their move. If they hadn’t agitated for a move would Newcastle have sold? I am not so sure they would have, unless ridiculous money was offered as in the Carroll transfer.
The next claim is that Newcastle sell their best players and don’t replace them, which I do agree with to an extent, but Ashley has never been about spending money because they have it, but rather looking for value in the market when it arises.
Two perfect recent examples of this are Ayoze Perez (£1.5m) and Moussa Sissoko (£1.8m), going further back you have Cheick Tiote (£3.5m) and Yohan Cabaye. The argument against Ashley is that the signings he does make, the money is used from players that are sold.
I don’t see the problem with this business model as the club is self-sustainable and is being built and developed on a strong financial footing. A focus is being placed on developing players from the youth team which seems to be coming through particularly well this year in players such as (Dummett, Aarons, Sammy Ameobi, Armstrong etc).
Swansea have just agreed a £30m fee with Manchester City for Wilfried Bony and the transfer has been described by many as good business for both teams. I can only imagine the reaction if Newcastle were selling Bony to Manchester City in this transfer window and Pardew was still in charge.
To finish, I just believe that the Mike Ashley regime at Newcastle receives a lot of criticism that is unfair in my opinion.
Yes he has made mistakes in the past but as a Newcastle fan I agree with many things he does at the club, especially in the era of financial fair play and taking a longer term view of progression, rather than what has gone on before him at the club which nearly sent the club bankrupt.
The next managerial/head coach appointment is crucial and if they can get it right then the future could be very bright indeed for Newcastle United.
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