Get your daily update and weekly newsletter by signing up today!


Suspicious smell of Mike Ashley’s favourite fish – Red Herring

5 years ago

From what I have read both in the national and local media, as well as online. It suggests that at least for some, there appears to suddenly be, if not a wave of optimism about the new Newcastle United, then certainly less reasons to be miserable.

I admit myself to having had a strange feeling recently, not really happiness or optimism, more a reduction in the abject fury which has occupied me for the last 8 years.

(To feature like Notts Toon, send in your articles for our website to [email protected] – all views those of the author etc etc)

That was until I took myself aside, had a word with myself, remembered who we are dealing with and asked myself, what has actually happened to change anything?

So why are people suddenly beating the ‘wait and see’ drum again?

What is it which has softened the mindset of some who are now asking for us to ‘get behind McClaren’ and ‘see what the summer brings’?

Given all the evidence of Mike Ashley’s ownership thus far, surely it can’t be this easy for him to be allowed more time by the fans…can it?

At the end of the season we had the, now infamous, speech.

Many initially thought he had publicly declared a change in tactics, when in fact he hadn’t actually said anything of any substance.

Since the end of the season we have had two great club servants, who have both overcome their own adversity and showed genuine understanding of the depth of feeling the fans have for the club, released in the most crass and classless way imaginable (except possibly by flying a banner behind a plane), this is perhaps a better indication of the Newcastle United of today.

Newcastle have also appointed a coach with a history of some success and more recent failure, a coach who was not linked with a single other Premier League club. Now I will admit to being surprisingly impressed with McClaren’s composure, earnestness and words, but we have to remember that words don’t win football matches – players and tactics do that.

We cannot be sure if the new coach has the tactics, we can though be sure that we don’t have the players right now.

In the last week, since the head coach appointment, transfer speculation has gone into overdrive surrounding NUFC.

We are a club who has always attracted more than its fair share of column inches in any transfer window, but this last week has been nothing short of ridiculous, even by our standards.

Perhaps the biggest indicator that just about all of the speculation is baseless, is that the players we are being linked with have a transfer value which is close to, or in excess of, £10m.

This is demonstrably a price which Newcastle United has not paid for quite some time (since Cisse), to do so now and to do it not once but two or three times, would represent a significant change of direction in transfer dealings. Too much of a change to be realistic.

We must also factor in that the players whose names are being bandied around are goal scorers, that rarest of qualities in the modern game. For a club with the transfer policy of Newcastle, we do not tend to buy goal scorers (the exception of Cisse once more), we either stumble across them, create them or borrow other people’s, to varying degrees of success.

A genuine high calibre goal scorer costs serious money, one who is British and under 25 (almost) such as Charlie Austin is going to be well outside of our budget surely.

The next clue to there being some serious smoke and mirror tactics being used, is that it seems to be only strikers who are being seriously linked. There have been some vague and lazy stories about us being ‘in the mix’ for a German defender, a Hull defender and a couple of young Spaniards, but nothing like the almost concrete certainty attached to the striker rumours.

That suspicious smell you are now finding in your nostrils is Mike Ashley’s favourite fish….Red Herring.

Even before the various transfer rumours arrived, we saw a few potential managers linked and distanced, quicker than Andy Carroll gets into a helicopter. The names of Vieira, Laudrup, Clement and even fancifully Klopp, were pushed forward from various sources before Dutch Steve was handed the reins.

As has been pointed out time after time, the club seems to be struggling to sell season tickets.

First the deadline was extended with a laughable ‘renew now to avoid disappointment’ statement, and now the deadline has moved again, accompanied with what can only be described as a begging letter from the club, pointing out how thrilled we should all be with the new coach before a signing is made, never mind a ball being kicked.

Does anyone seriously believe that these actions are completely unrelated to the plethora of ‘big signing’ stories which are finding their source in Newcastle United’s preferred media partners? Is anyone still that naïve when it comes to Mike Ashley?

This is a familiar dance, a new dawn is hinted at (admittedly more blatantly this time), cosmetic changes are made but the strategy remains the same, to extract blood from a stone and then use that same stone to beat the remaining life out of Newcastle United.

My feeling is that too many coincidences are happening at the moment; season ticket renewal, board changes, preferred media partners….it’s all too convenient and builds a clear narrative that a clumsy deception act is in process by the Mike Ashley once again.

This week is a big one, if we sit here in seven days time with still with no new signings, or with the regular cheap imports beginning to fly in on Ryanair midweek saver tickets,  then I will be even more convinced of the web of lies this summer is promising.

When Charlie Austin, Bas Dost, Florian Thauvin go elsewhere, when Andy Carroll announces his intention to stay in London and Berahino in Birmingham, when cheap foreign midfield players suddenly arrive with a YouTube video full of tricks, I wonder what the mood on Tyneside will be?

I wonder how the ‘wait and see’ crowd will feel then?

Have we really arrived in the Last Chance Saloon?

Does the cryptic statement which referenced Summer 2016 as a tipping point for Mike Ashley still hold true?


If you would like to feature on The Mag, submit your article to [email protected]

Have your say

© 2020 The Mag. All Rights Reserved. Design & Build by Mediaworks