Friday afternoon has seen Mike Ashley publish an open letter to both the fans and staff of Newcastle United.

For anybody quickly scanning through looking for mention of the words Rafa, Benitez, staying, at, Newcastle, United….you will be disappointed.

A lot of empty waffle no doubt written by the same hand that put together the ‘Lee Charnley’ one on Wednesday night.

Mike Ashley says he shares our ‘pain’ and that ‘it has always been my intention to try to achieve the very best for Newcastle United’…(most fans happy to put Mike Ashley where the words Newcastle United appear there).

Ashley talks of ‘doing everything’ to get a ‘swift return’ to the Premier League, saying ‘we have done it before’.

In 2009 Mike Ashley washed his hands of Newcastle United, never bothered getting back to Alan Shearer after he’d presented his detailed plan to the owner on how to get promoted and build from there, instead Ashley didn’t even appoint a permanent manager, choosing instead to appoint Chris Hughton as a caretaker.

Ashley then going on to release everybody who was out of contract and sell anybody who he received an offer for, then didn’t give Hughton a penny to spend on new players. Only by the sheer luck of Chris Hughton surprising Ashley and doing a superb job, plus having a lot of decent players who had underperformed, did United bounce straight back.

If Mike Ashley thinks treating Rafa Benitez the way he treat Shearer, bringing in a caretaker boss, selling the likes of Townsend and Mbemba, then relying on the players who were abysmal this season….that is not a plan, it is a suicide note.

Mike Ashley open letter:

An open letter from owner Mike Ashley to the supporters and staff of Newcastle United:

I am writing to you in the immediate aftermath of the relegation of our Club – a bitterly disappointing outcome for all of us.

Newcastle United rightly has a proud and long tradition of competing at the highest level and I therefore understand and share the pain that supporters will be feeling at this difficult time.

Many of you have expressed strong views about what we could have done differently. I respect those views but I would like to reiterate that it has always been my intention to try to achieve the very best for Newcastle United.

We invested heavily in the squad over last summer and again in January, but we have been unable to secure Premier League status despite the recent efforts of the team under the formidable stewardship of Rafa Benitez.

I’ve said in the past that when I take on a challenge I am prepared to go through both good times and bad. There can be no doubt that relegation is a terrible blow but I want to assure you that the Club will now be doing everything it can at all levels to try to ensure a swift return to its rightful place in the Premier League.

We have done it before – we can do it again.

In the meantime, I thank the fans for their passionate support, in particular for Rafa and the team at recent fixtures, both home and away.

Clearly it is now time for a period of careful consideration whilst we reflect upon the lessons that need to be learned from the last 12 months to restore this great Club to the very top flight of English football.’