I didn’t originally intend to write anything but the following was provoked from me when I was reminded about the Mike Ashley Out campaign, with comments on social media querying if I was aware of their whereabouts.
Whether it was a spot of mickey taking at my expense and at my club, or people genuinely don’t understand, I wanted to put the record straight.
When the Ashley Out campaign was at its height, the club was drifting and there’s only one place it was going.
What happened back in May was everything the fans were protesting against. It was our worst fears confirmed, with a second relegation from the premier league in seven years.
It needn’t have happened if the club was run properly.
That we managed to attract a manager of the stature of Rafa Benitez midway through last season was a miracle in itself.
When relegation was then confirmed, he confounded the critics who had again predicted dark times for Newcastle, by signing a second deal in spite of ending up in the Championship.
Why has he done this?
Well I think there are many reasons but I only want to focus on one. I believe Mike Ashley and his boardroom finally woke up and realised that the way they were running Newcastle United Football Club wasn’t working and was never going to work. They realised too late and ultimately the damage was too much for even Rafa to repair but.. they had come to their senses.
Bit by bit the feel good factor has been brought back to the club.
It’s a club reconnecting with its community and fanbase once again.
It’s a club that feels like it has hope again.
It’s a club that once again feels like it is capable of doing good/great things.
That is something I think Ashley and his reps deserve credit for, albeit ultimately realising too late.
So things are looking up and no surprise to me that the Mike Ashley Out pressure has dissipated. Their last article to their website was posted on the 12 May 2016 and the last Twitter activity was a retweet posted on 15 June 2016. They’re probably just as happy as I am with our league form and pinching themselves that Benitez is still here.
So, although they have had their say since Rafa came, of course they have been on the back foot in recent months. What is the use of kicking off and creating a toxic atmosphere when things are finally going well? I have absolutely no doubt that if things go awry (and it’s a big if) then they will be back in earnest.
I don’t understand why though, this group should be vilified by anybody now. I posted an article once voicing my displeasure with the way the club was being run at the time. I defy any fan of the club not do the same if they could.
They’re only doing it because they care about the club they support and frankly our recent upturn in form and goodwill only serves to highlight just how bad things were on the pitch and how disconnected the club was from all concerned with Newcastle United.
I say all this not under the illusion that everything is now okay. Not under the belief that the last six or seven months changes how fans are supposed to feel about the nine years previous he has owned the club.
If this were a disciplinary, Mike Ashley would be on a final warning. Compared to where the club could have been right now, Ashley has landed on a pot of gold.
There is always that potential, always that worry at the back of your mind that our owner (or his staff) could mess this up somehow and lose Rafa and with him all the goodwill they have built up to now. That is every Newcastle fan’s worst nightmare.
Thankfully it is a nightmare I can’t see coming true. He wouldn’t go back to his old ways now would he?
You can follow the author on Twitter @jonniegrieve.