Mike Ashley and Joseph Stalin have at least one thing in common: they both like a 5 year plan. Or so we were all meant to believe.

Since taking over Newcastle United, the businessman has shown little perseverance with long-term sustainable strategies, aside from his annual post-Christmas asset-stripping venture.

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Either the plan has radically changed since 2007, or Ashley’s real intentions were always different to those revealed boastingly to supporters. Indeed little evidence of any strategy beyond continued Premier League survival and incoming television revenues is visible at present day St James Park.

Once more Ashley has made public promises of a better future. But after false claims of ‘investment’ in the recent past, I don’t believe a word of it.

A lack of transfer market investment, we were told, would lead to available funds for developing young players and creating a sustainable squad on reasonable, but competitive, wages. This was to be achieved by the full support of an extensive scouting network across Europe.

Looking at our current squad, Ayoze Perez and Moussa Sissoko seem to be the only players to make a case for that claim. The rest of our roster are a collection of recoveries from lost property.

Five members of this first team were relegated with us in 2009 and, since Ashley took over the club, I cannot name a single top quality player being brought through the academy (Carroll was there before Ashley’s takeover).

Instead, Ashley’s controlling influence has resulted in the ludicrous appointments of Dennis Wise and Joe Kinnear as heads of recruitment. Both were more fixated on spiting fans than actually getting on with the job.

Despite the few players that get signed still being aged roughly 24, there is no preparation for how they play and can develop the current team’s chances over successive seasons.

More worryingly, the sanctioned departures of Davide Santon and Yanga-Mbiwa mid-season, when vital contributions could have been made by both players towards improving our current predicament, is a decision that defies all logic.

History shows that a cohesive transfer philosophy is essential to building effective teams. It is no coincidence that during the two most successful previous spells for NUFC in the Premier League years, there was a clear strategy towards assembling a team.

Kevin Keegan ensured that each new signing could improve his squad’s attacking prowess, as was dictated by his preferred style of play. The sale of Andy Cole is the clearest example of this forward thinking. While Keith Gillespie arrived as part of the deal, Les Ferdinand was then bought from the proceeds of the transfer the following summer. Subsequently, both players were a significant part of the title challenging side in 95/96.

Under Bobby Robson, his own ethos for promoting energetic ‘young guns’ into the starting eleven was reflected in big money signings for unproven kids such as Jermaine Jenas, Hugo Viana, Craig Bellamy and James Milner.

These signings weren’t always faultless of course. Hugo Viana failed to live up to the hype and the following summer the only incoming player was Lee Bowyer – a far cry from what fans had hoped for.

At the time, unfortunately for us, Titus Bramble was also considered one of these young prodigies. But overall Robson’s policy made sense and led to a season of Champions League football.

The fatal problem with Ashley, in contrast, is that his former promises of a planned future for the club were built on deception.

Eighteen months without a signing and then a summer’s worth of average arrivals has led to a stagnant and complacent team sheet. If he does spend some money this summer, my feeling is that we’ll be seeing a lot more of Riviere’s ilk than hidden gems like Perez.

The man that is in control needs to stop pretending he is playing Football Manager and actually bring some long-term logic to the direction of the club. I’ll believe it when I see it.

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  • Kevin Halliday

    Couldn’t agree more with this writer. In fact this article, written by a toon fan, could well have been written by myself. “Uncle Mike Stalin” absolutely resonates with me. STALIN OUT.

  • Sickandtiredstill

    Can’t score. Can’t defend. No passing ability or flair.
    A management policy of only buying in Summer windows (or none, as has been widely stated) but selling in any. 
    Policy to stick to a failed recruitment plan which does not give priority to the manager (or now HC) but rather the MD and chief scout based on a certain budget and player type (cheap and foreign).
    History of no net investment, rather, cashing in on players instead of building on and around them.
    It’s going to take a hell of a lot more than even the 34 million in the bank account to begin to set this right and Ashley has shown since day one he doesn’t have the appetite for that.

  • NottsToon

    Some years ago I was at barbecue with former Barnsley and Sheffield Wednesday manager Danny Wilson, who was never a great of the game but did manage in the Premier League and was a nice chap. Anyway, he said that his philosophy on signing new players was the same every summer, no matter where he was at, he laid out his first 11 from what he had on paper and only signed players who he believed were better than those already in his first 11.

    Now that doesn’t leave much room for appreciating potential, or upcoming talent, but this is exactly what I believe Newcastle need to do this summer. Bring in a manager, select a first 11 from those who will be here next season, identify the weak areas (shouldn’t be too hard) and replace those players with better players, therefore improving the first team and squad.

    It’s not rocket science is it?

  • Sickandtiredstill

    NottsToon It may as well be Chinese. 

    Even a kid on a PS4 will start with a good manager and key players to build around. Not Ashley. he makes sure his yes men are in place to follow his financial plan because that is all that concerns him.

    His idea of football people and the decisions they made are the reason we are in this mess, and his aversion to spending any money.

  • wor monga

    I thought this article had some slight merit until you put forward that
    the idea of selling of Andy Cole was a method of forward thinking on behalf of
    the club…

    …the lad was an incredible finisher, and up there with Alan Shearer…Sir
    Les was no slouch, and neither was the flawed Gillespie, but Cole’s overall
    record in the top flight were second to none…226 goals in 460 appearances (for
    3 clubs)…with whom he won 5 Championships, 2 FA Cups, UEFA Champions League…and
    a league cup with Blackburn…

    …the forward thinking would have been to keep Andy
    and partner him with Big Al, but that kind of thinking has never been evident,
    at the Toon…even in those good old days of yesterday!!

  • Sickandtiredstill

    wor monga Right or wrong, there’s not really much KK can be criticised for in football terms here.

    You can hardly call that a mistake, or lack of forward thinking, given the resulting outcome. The bloke saved us from the old Div 3 and then began an upward trajectory of staggering proportions.

    Seems some people are just never happy no matter what.

  • wor monga

    …and there’s more…

    …the decision to get rid of Sir Bob …by Shepherd, was
    possibly the least forward thinking decision made in the history of the NUFC…seeing
    as most of those players you mention were the poison within who made it
    impossible for him to control the team…not the young James Milner though who
    was blameless, but was glaringly pointed out as a total nonentity to be downgraded,
    by his second worst forward thinking decision…Souness …

    ..I won’t go any further …except
    to say our signings under him never turned out to be worth a fraction of the money
    that was spent on them!!

  • Sickandtiredstill

    wor monga  No amount of whingeing about the past is going to change the fact that Ashley has been and is atrocious for this football club. 

    Cup competitions, Euro competition / qualification, PL league placings, all confirm that.

  • wor monga


    … The only thing I’m not happy about Keegan…is that he didn’t have the
    strength of character that made Shankley the giant that created the Liverpool
    legend…he had it almost cracked here, and we loved him for it, but then he walked
    away…when the going got tough!!

  • wor monga


    I’m not whingeing about the past, my sick friend…I’m just putting some ‘corrective
    surgery’ on an article that has totally glossed over it!!

  • Sickandtiredstill

    wor monga Sickandtiredstill Can’t really argue with that. I think he had enormous strength, considering what he did here through his own methods and efforts, but the fact he left as he did will always be a major let down.
    Could hardly call the going tough either considering where we were when he arrived and where we were when he left. I believe the loss of the title broke him in all honesty.

  • wor monga


    ….Whether or not it broke him as you maintain, is irrelevant…he was the
    man ‘climbing the mountain’…

    …we were backing him totally… would follow him to where
    ever that led, but he made his excuses, and bricked it…

    …It was a mistake to take
    him back because he had proved he would take the easy way out …rather than face
    the fire!!!

  • Sickandtiredstill

    wor monga Sickandtiredstill Don’t agree with you there. He wasn’t even given a chance second time and fatty immediately put Wise over him. 
    Why would you bring in Keegan if you weren’t going to allow him to try and recreate what he had done here before? I feel pretty damn certain that wasn’t part of the agreement when he agreed to come – and so did an employment tribunal.

  • wor monga


    … Like I said it was a mistake to bring him back…and believe he could achieve
    what he had done before, this time under more severe financial restraints…

  • Sickandtiredstill

    wor monga Sickandtiredstill Left to his own devices I seriously doubt he would have been worse than Pardew, and now Carver.
    Putting Wise / Jimenez / Llambias over him was comical and evident how that worked out for all. More compensation all round, from the man seeking to end the football gravy train while appointing his cronies.

  • Chemical Dave

    Why do you even bother to debate with thick and probably senile mong a?

  • BrianKD

    Good article and spot on. I don’t believe we will have a manager/coach in place quick enough or enough signings.

  • Sickandtiredstill

    1957 Very well stated.

    I have always been without doubt that if SBR had been able to take over from KK then this Club would have kicked on another gear completely.

    Sadly for us, SBR was a gentleman and adhered to his Barca contract and we had to endure the dismantling of the side by Dalglish, Gullit and Souness along with an utter waste of the funds.