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Once upon a time there was a quiet man who shunned publicity…

5 years ago

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away (Shirebrook to be precise) there was a man, a quiet man, a man who  built up a business on the sly from modest beginnings.

This quiet man shunned publicity, avoided the media glare and as a consequence, very few people actually knew anything about him at all. Scrutiny was at a minimum and his business was allowed to flourish and this success story allowed the quiet, media shy man to become very wealthy. Then the man decided to buy a football club . . .

In his time as Newcastle United owner, Mike Ashley has never come across to me as a clever man. Only a fool goes out and buys into something he hasn’t a clue about, doesn’t check the history behind what he’s purchased and thinks he can ignore advice from all and sundry, who know about how the product/institution is supposed to work.

But the attitude from Mike seems to be ‘No, I know best’, even though Ashley himself has publicly admitted to the contrary regarding knowing anything about football.

This week, Mike Ashley and S***** D***** have been under siege somewhat.

Attacks from all sides over zero hours contracts, accusations of staff mistreatment at its Shirebrook base, profit warnings and a parliamentary summons, much of it stemming from former labour leader Ed Miliband’s assertion that Shirebrook is some sort of evil Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, where the bosses drive a hard bargain from the Oompa Loompas under ‘Victorian’ work practices.

Now I’m not a spy. I’ve never been to Shirebrook and I don’t know anyone that works there. I, like everyone else, have merely read about the accusations and rumours about what allegedly goes on and wholeheartedly agree with the former Labour leader about zero hour contracts.

However, this week something else came to light involving something closer to NE1, a testimony from one Jonas Gutierrez.

Certainly, if accusations are going to fly around S***** D*****, the government could do with examining the words of our former midfielder with regards to his treatment at Newcastle United.

The basic accusation is that the club restricted Jonas’ appearances so as to prevent a contract extension being triggered. The subsequent goal he scored to help Newcastle survive relegation and save Ashley tens of millions, merely strengthens his case and paints the club in the same poor light that the government are trying to show with S***** D*****.

The parallels are certainly there and his treatment from the club (as well as Ryan Taylor’s) by John Carver (shared phone call notice of no new contract), was certainly as harsh as it was unprofessional.

Mike Ashley has also stated that his company doesn’t boil down to ‘one person’, which is a way of deflecting criticism away from ‘one person’ – himself.

Followers of Newcastle United can relate to this, last summer he removed himself from the board at Newcastle and left everything in charge of a quartet of Lee Charnley, Graham Carr, Bob Moncur and Steve McClaren.

The reason? To absolve blame from ‘one person’ – Mike Ashley himself.

Quotes this week certainly reflect this:

“I have virtually nil effect on Newcastle United, in reality, because I only pick the board.”

Yes, a nice bit of deflection again Mike but the start of that sentence directly contradicts the end of it.

How it should read is ‘I have virtually TOTAL effect on Newcastle United BECAUSE I pick the board’.

Just like you picked Dennis Wise over Kevin Keegan, which ended up costing you a small fortune, or how about picking Derek Llambias whose experience was in running a casino, or picking Joe Kinnear over any credible manager or Director of Football at all. Nil effect?

As far as Mike Ashley is concerned, he obviously doesn’t like criticism, can’t say anyone does really. But the quiet man he once was, probably should’ve stayed quiet, just for his own now shattered credibility.

As everything he utters or has put out in his name, either proves to be a lie or a deflection. He can’t even be listening to his own spin doctors and PR advisors anymore.

There’s more:

 “To get a football club to be the best it can be, you have to get the sun, the moons and the stars to align perfectly.”

Er, really? When I’m low on petrol I go to the garage and stick some fuel in, fully understanding that if I fill up with the wrong fuel, the car WILL travel, but it won’t get very far without breaking down completely and needing a massive job doing to it to get it going again. Does that analogy sound familiar Mike?

It does to Newcastle fans.



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