I sometimes wonder if Newcastle finishing fifth in the Premier League, was the worst possible thing that could have happened under Mike Ashley.

The club’s owner was in shock and not in a good, winning the lottery, kind of way.

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Whilst fans saw it as a breakthrough season, with only two or three quality players needing to be added in summer 2012 to stabilise Newcastle in the top six or seven as a minimum…I think Mike Ashley saw a nightmare unfolding.

His decisive action was to make no net spending in the transfer market and bring only one player in who wasn’t even good enough for the Premier League, Vurnon Anita.

Finishing higher than the safety of mid-table wasn’t in the business plan, so spending significantly on transfer fees and wages was never going to happen.

Instead, I get the feeling that he was happy to see that squad which over-achieved in 2011/12, when everything went just right, to deflate back to a truer reflection of around tenth or a place or two above at worst/best. Easily more than enough to make sure Newcastle would book another season in the Premier League, but no risk of risking that close shave with the Europa League, and certainly not the  Champions League, again.

I honestly think that qualifying for the Champions League would simply be seen as a big headache for Mike Ashley.

I don’t think, sadly, he sees the potential that is there with Newcastle United, a club that could grow and grow and establish itself as a top club, building year on year with the help of Champions League cash (like Arsenal have done) and becoming what equals a ‘big’ club these days.

Rather, I think Ashley sees that if by some chance Newcastle made it into the Champions League, he would 100% believe there was no chance of it being anything but a one-off.

So yes he could claim a one-off chunk of cash but other than that it would just create problems.

To avoid total embarrassment and possible meltdown of league form, he would have to bring some extra players in, players who would cost bigger fees and wages than he would want to pay. This would then lead his existing better players to expect more money and so on.

mike ashley

One season of CL money but ending up being committed to three, four or five years of significantly higher wages for X number of players.

On top of this, whilst some fans talk of the extra exposure he would then get for Sports Direct and the rest of his brands,  it simply isn’t the case. The Champions League machine takes over your stadium and rebrands it with their own centrally sold advertising.

So ironically, unless Mike Ashley spent money (perish the thought!)  to advertise, the Champions League would pass his retail empire by, with St James Park not featuring any of hi advertising.

So coming back to my theory, I think Mike Ashley wanted to rein back United’s ambitions and potential in that summer of 2012, but didn’t appreciate just how much everything had gone right the season before, and just how small a group of players were key to that success.

Failing to invest almost produced relegation in 2012/13, with United only ensuring staying up on the day of the final away match at QPR.

It had been a close run thing and NUFC only survived because Mike Ashley suddenly realised Newcastle had no squad to speak of and that could equal relegation. Whilst that key small group of players didn’t come anywhere near the previous season’s form, through injury, form and leaving the club.

However, the pattern had been set and after January 2013, he only invested on one of the four following transfer windows, bringing in a mixed bag of signings last summer. A mixed bag which proved to be nowhere near enough to put right the seriously weakened squad he had allowed to develop.

Then after an ominous 47 days without any visible activity, Georginio Wijnaldum was signed on Saturday.

mike ashley

A player who had been much talked about but was a massive surprise to actually land him, when Mike Ashley coaxed him over the line. In the process paying significantly more on a transfer (£14.5m) than he has ever allowed to happen before.

These next 51 days before the window closes will tell us whether Wijnaldum is THE signing, or one of a handful of credible players who have been recruited to help drag Newcastle away from being regular relegation battlers.

Has Mike Ashley accepted that he can’t gamble any more on such small margins of error?

The latest roll of the dice only in January, when believing another Premier League season was in the bag, the club owner sanctioned the departure of Santon and Yanga-Mbiwa, as well as Hatem Ben Arfa to be released from his contract AND the manager to leave.

All four allowed to walk out of the door to slash costs and bring in revenue, with not one single replacement.

Only the final 90 minutes of the season saw Newcastle crawl into the Premier League safety zone.

The squad that flew off to America this morning should sober more than a few people up.

A 23 man squad (Wijnaldum to join them later), with three goalkeepers it means there were 20 outfield players.

Amongst that group of 20 were Gael Bigirimana, Shane Ferguson, Mike Williamson, Emmanuel Riviere, Gabriel Obertan, Yoan Gouffran and Steven Taylor

Whilst the likes of Jamaal Lascelles, Rolando Aarons, Curtis Good, Adam Armstrong and Massadio Haidara are all yet to be given the chance/show that they can make it in the Premier League.

There are big challenges ahead for Newcastle to be in any kind of a healthy shape come August 9 and the visit of Southampton.

Steve McClaren appears to have came over well to the vast majority of Newcastle fans but if Ashley fails to back up the Wijnaldum signing with more of the same, that dice may well be getting rolled again when it comes to our Premier League fate this coming season.

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  • Andgeo

    We could have finished higher than 5th that season, had the squad had sufficient depth. It was only because we had I back up central defenders that we lost a few easy points over the Christmas period and could have finished higher. Although, the rest of the season we were injury free.
    The ‘worst thing that could have happened’ was not building on that success. Doing nothing in the transfer market that summer was a complete disgrace.

  • Blackandwhiteblood

    These articles are becoming increasingly boring. We all KNOW what’s required, we don’t need to be reminded on a daily basis. It appears that supposedly Toon fans are dreading that we might succeed, because their hatred for Ashley outweighs their love for the club – a club they fell in love with long before Ashley turned up. I don’t like the man either, but I refuse to let him drive me away from my love – NUFC. Having spent my youth travelling to places like Shrewsbury, Wrexham, Hereford, Cambridge etc, to watch Newcastle struggle, I don’t need to be told I’m part of the problem either. Chasing the quality of players we are at the moment should be enjoyed, without desperately searching for excuses not to be pleased. I’ve slagged Ashley myself enough times for his total misunderstanding of football, but if this is the new way, I’m all for it. Ashley is not NUFC, he’s just the temporary owner. If he’s genuinely prepared to change, then great. I don’t care who provides the money, as long as it gets spent. After years of underfunding, I’m looking forward to next season for once.

  • Jack W2

    Blackandwhiteblood

    Well said mate ! 

    Everything on this site is posted for one reason only .. GOOGLE ADSENSE REVENUE

    Like look at the title of this post for instance,. C`mon, are you for real.. worst thing that ever happened was finishing 5th and qualifying for europe.. 

    I`m totally fed up with sites like this and the countless facebook pages moaning about everything.. Get behind the team for a change and if you have nothing good to say keep your gob shut

  • amacdee

    Jack W2 Have you got black and white blood too or just porridge for brains ?

  • Barnesay

    Totally agree mate, seems I’m from the same era as you, one of my highlights being a win at port vale when billy askew scored! New generation thinks football was invented when sky came along and have no idea for most years before we joined that gravy train we were in the old division 2 watching Tony Cunningham, Billy Whitehurst and the like. Like you, I’ve criticised Ashley but hopefully the penny has now dropped. I do accept though that were steps that had to be taken following Shepherd’s mismanagement and being an eternal optimist as far as my club goes just have to hope that now the new sky deal has kicked in and the club is making money that we make an effort to compete. If not, then my time wil be up as well.

  • amacdee

    Andgeo Aye just as Fat Feddie failed to support SBR in our second CL season, Fatman has failed to understand that no investment isnt standing still it’s falling behind.

  • Demented_Man

    Jack W2 Blackandwhiteblood Right on man!  Support the team not the regime eh?

  • 1957

    Blackandwhiteblood Barnesay I agree with what you say except SJH was no better than the rest. The only money he put into the club was in the form of a loan at commercial rates for that time.

    There are people who really don’t appreciate how bad things were in the past, you had to see it to appreciate how bad it was.

  • Happyharrys2011

    Yeah, like the test of the mutes, having your money took out of your pockets by the fat w4nker. He is laughing at you. Wake up please it’s not hard to see, he isn’t interested in footballing success, only financial success.

  • WAYNEANDCATH1

    I HOPE WE CAN CONCENTRATE ON THE POSITIVE ASPECTS OF NUFC NO MATTER HOW FEW THEY MAY BE 
    good progress being made at the mo so lets enjoy it and dont knock it 
    plenty of bitter and twisted media nutters to do that

  • DownUnderMag

    5th place was a huge opportunity but I think Ashley had his grand plan and it came too early for that. The bottom line is I think Ashley has finally realised if he continues running things like he has been, the club will drop down the divisions and he will get a lot of negative publicity.  Make no mistake about it, if the likes of Gini and others actually work out, then they will be sold, but for now we have them and we can make the most of them until such times they leave for richer clubs – at which point the judgement will be based on finding the replacement, but for now Ashley has produced a good player, with hopefully more to follow.  Who cares if they are using us as a stepping stone, that’s what ALL players do with ALL clubs unless they move to Real or Barca…the trick for us is to make the most of them while they are here, try and build on our good points and replace immediately as and when we do sell.

  • Blackandwhiteblood

    1957 Blackandwhiteblood Barnesay bit harsh on SJH. Debt or not, we were going under until he bailed us out. Those memories of the entertainers – priceless after some of the garbage we had to suffer beforehand. Best side in my memory, that’s for sure.

  • Blackandwhiteblood

    Happyharrys2011 it’s not from him though. McClaren has been promised an amount that he believes will cover the cost of certain targets. The cash is there and they’ve been told to spend it wisely and they’ve started to do so. So unless you actually believe that McClaren is in some mental conspiracy to have us over, then what reason has he to lie to us? He wants us with him. He wants what we want. He’s improved comms. What more can he do? LOOK who he’s bought ffs, with more to follow. He’s not the enemy.

  • Blackandwhiteblood

    amacdee Andgeo no such thing as standing still in football. You either go forward or you go backwards. Bang on.

  • Happyharrys2011

    Come on please. He has billions not millions there was no need for austerity.
    Let’s just hope he has turned back around the corner, we turned on him so he turned back on us. Now there is the possibility of a truce. Fingers crossed but I very much doubt it.

  • LeazesEnder

    DownUnderMag After eight years of Ashley I don’t see any signs of ‘a Grand Plan’…. he seems to have pushed the fans to breaking point and simply reacted to every catastrophic event…. this time a second large scale walk-out by season ticket holders who have had enough…. it is these people he has to manipulate now…. and he’s doing it by spending a little bit, its not going to bring everyone back…. 

    When I see Sports Dir***t pay for their advertising and allow the club its own revenue to compete I may go back but until then its nothing more than reactionary knee jerk actions to counter growing discontent…. the club has become an empty vessel for the entirety of this mans occupation.

  • Happyharrys2011

    Here here well said!

  • LeazesEnder

    Blackandwhiteblood Then go an read Ed Harrison’s Happy-Clappy blog  and stop your whinging

  • Blackandwhiteblood

    LeazesEnder Blackandwhiteblood stay out of the sun mate, you might melt.

  • DownUnderMag

    Happyharrys2011 LeazesEnder I agree it is yet more reactionary involvement from the owner… i’m all pleased for what is happening and it’s a huge step in the right direction.  BUT, the big thing is how long this goes on for…is it just a knee jerk reaction for ticket sales or is it a new direction??  To prove himself to a lot of fans this needs to be a concerted effort and for a number of seasons.  The big test will come in January (or whenever the next big offer comes in…sell but there needs to be a replacement otherwise he’s proved hes learned nothing)

  • brent_dog

    It was the worst thing that could have happened, but not in the way you think.

    Finishing 5th and getting all those plaudits after spending comparatively little on the likes of Cabaye, Tiote, Cisse et al. confirmed to Ashley that his ‘moneyball’ approach to football – sign younger, cheaper players identified by what seemed like (at the time) an almost infallible scouting network and selling them on at a profit once they’ve done well – was eminently workable.

    Unfortunately we’ve had a string of crap signings since then, particularly from the supposed golden market of France. For every Cabaye we’ve had two duffers like Riviere and Gouffran. Now, I don’t know if that’s due to a fundamental failure in the scouting network, if it’s just our initial run of luck on signings balancing itself out, or if it’s just because fatty hates spending money and has a sinister plan to f*£k us all over, but it’s lead to a steady deterioration in quality year on year that has put us in our current sorry predicament, all of which can be directly attributed to our near miss with CL qualification.

  • Morpeth mag

    I agree, couldn’t have put it better,,