Sadly, the season kicked off with a lot more talk about Rafa Benitez & Mike Ashley, rather than Rafa Benitez & his players.

After winning the Championship title AND producing a £40m transfer surplus in his first full season at the club, the momentum was with Newcastle United under the leadership of the Champions League, La Liga (twice) winning manager.

It would be over the top possibly to say that this momentum has fallen over the edge of a cliff in the three months since Newcastle won the second tier title BUT it has definitely stalled.

Fingers of blame are being pointed for this, with Rafa, the fans and much of the media who cover Newcastle laying the blame at the owner’s door, however, Mike Ashley has rallied his trusted people and launched a counter offensive.

Quotes were released before Sunday’s opening match against Spurs and then a full lengthy ‘interview’ broadcast on Sky Sports on Sunday night, only hours after the final whistle.

Rafa Benitez was asked after the final whistle whether he was meeting Mike Ashley with the owner having travelled up for the game, the Spaniard replied that he didn’t know whether he would be doing that.

When pressed, Rafa denied that it wasn’t that he didn’t want to meet Ashley, rather that it was the owner who solely decided these things. Later on Sunday, George Caulkin of The Times revealed that whilst Rafa Benitez was carrying out his media duties, Mike Ashley had ‘left the building’ without bothering to make contact with his manager.

Added to that, club legend Shay Given then revealed that people inside Newcastle United had told him that Mike Ashley hadn’t spoken to Rafa Benitez ‘in months’, indicating that the end of season meeting when Ashley promised Rafa ‘every penny’ to spend on players this summer, was the last conversation.

The Sky Sports interview saw Ashley talk of not being able to compete with PL clubs owned by ‘states/countries’, that he couldn’t finance £200m Neymar type deals, or simply hand Rafa Benitez a £150m transfer kitty.

Much more was said but on the key points of transfer budgets/signings but the response of many was bemusement, as the United boss has spent only £22m net this transfer window (after Joselu arrived this morning for a reported £5m transfer fee) and has seen deals for free agent Willy Caballero and loan signing Tammy Abraham blocked by Ashley. So comparing this and £200m transfers & competing financially against Manchester City appear poles apart.

So in this war of words that has broken out between Mike Ashley and Rafa Benitez, who do we believe and/or see as being in the right?

I would say you just need to ask yourself the following two questions.

One:

Has Mike Ashley misled Rafa Benitez on how much he would have to spend this summer & total freedom as to the deals he wanted to make within those expected funds?

Two:

Was Mike Ashley’s Sky Sports interview intended to help Rafa Benitez and Newcastle United get the season off to the best of starts, or was it to simply serve his (Ashley’s ) own interests in projecting himself as blameless/helpless & without a care in terms of how it would affect Rafa and his job of trying to help Newcastle survive this season?

Interested to hear what you might think below but I find it very hard to see how any rational person won’t see the answers to the above as.

One:

In my opinion, Mike Ashley has definitely misled Rafa Benitez in terms of how he would be supported in the transfer market this summer.

Two:

Even more clearly, the Sky Sports interview, especially the crass timing, can only be seen as something that he (Ashley) wanted to do for his own purposes/benefit and NOT to help the club/Rafa.

Forget all about exactly how much Rafa Benitez could/should have had to spend, depending on the finances of the club, the Premier League cash that will come this season, or whatever (what exactly ‘every penny’ did meant). Simply concentrate on Mike Ashley and his actions towards Rafa Benitez.

I can’t see how you can come to any other conclusion than that Ashley has led Rafa to believe one thing would happen, then another totally different set of circumstances being presented to the United boss by Ashley and his minions.

Then to cap that, the owner spitefully reacted to Rafa Benitez repeatedly making clear that promises haven’t been kept, by timing his ‘I’m just a humble shopkeeper with no access to cash and doing my very very best against the other 19 PL club owners who make it impossible to compete financially’ embarrassing Sky Sports ‘interview’ (scripted questions asked by his friend/associate, presenter David Craig of Sky Sports) to stamp all over Rafa’s season preparations.

(All contributions from Newcastle fans welcome, send articles (as well as ideas/suggestions) to [email protected])



  • Rich Lawson

    ”Mike has left the building” so no chance of an encore then ?

  • Leazes Ender

    Benitez is risking his reputation on this bunch…. but for how long?

    • Guest 2

      Pretty sure fatso is hoping until the PL tv money comes in next year.

    • X,WHY,Y MAN.

      Not very !

  • Rich Lawson

    ”Ashley to sell.Chinese in,Ashley stays,Rafa to leave,Rafa locked in,Rafa to stay,? Millions to spend,nothing in the kitty,Ashley astute businness man,Ashley fat drunken idiot,Big Al,small Al back as manager,JFK climbs off death bed,one game and I’m exhausted !!

  • Soldier

    the ignorance of Mike Ashley knows no bounds

  • mactoon

    The only thing Rafa has been misled in, in my opinion is how inept Charnley would be in getting deals done for his first choice names. Rafa has said he was happy with the figures Ashley showed him so it has to be down to the deals not being done.

    • Guest 2

      And what was shown to him?

      • mactoon

        We don’t know as it obviously wasn’t made public as that would push player prices up. But rafa said he was happy with the figures

        • Guest 2

          Yeah, coz fatty has a history of issuing trustworthy statements, eh? Pretty sure Rafa wasn’t expecting a PL return with only a 22 mil net spend and having to sign 5 mil quid strikers.

    • 1957

      Ashley has consistently employed inexperienced people to run the club for him..
      or in the case of JFK a fantasist

    • Martin Rooney

      Fair Point, how much would Rafa have spent of the money and wages for Krul, Colback, Riviere, Haidara, Lazarr Hanley etc etc, if those deals had been done he’d bought a few players in and spent the resulting £50M+ (what has been spent plus £20 for these) then wouldn’t all be satisfied? Seemingly not ashleys fault but Charnelys but hold on the players and agents have a say too, ah thats a big shock, how can you lot not see that?

    • GToon

      Exactly mate.

  • Guest 2

    I think the clarity is in the fact he said he’s provided 250 mil to date and there’s going to be no more. Sorry like, but buying something involves spending money!
    Second – he again said the club has to stand on it’s own two feet – yet he’s failed to secure any form of additional revenue during his ownership (and we all know the advertising, merchandise and Gallowgate saga’s).
    He doesn’t want the club. He doesn’t know what to with the club. He still knows 0 about football. But his cold greedy hands refuse to let go unless someone pays him a profit for the rights to actually make use of the potential on offer – and which he remains incapable or unwilling to pursue with his own money.

  • Leicester Mag

    Remove wishful thinking and all bar a handful would sadly have to agree with your assessment. Sad because this could be so different. Heaven knows why he behaves in this way almost as though he gets a kick out of belittling people and showing us little people I.e. Fans who owns this train set.

  • Martin Rooney

    What a load of tosh, when tough frustrating times come round again. Ask this when magical Merino, mercurial Manquillo, luscious Lejuene, all turn out to be wonders and do Cabaye’s to get away, followed by injuries to key personnel, we’ll see whose still at the club

    • Guest 2

      Major Muppetry you’re spouting.

    • X,WHY,Y MAN.

      All I can say is it must be good gear !

      • GToon

        Hahahaha!

    • GToon

      You should have put all of that in UPPER CASE as I reckon you were shouting while you wrote it!

  • TwinFire

    Where is the proof that Caballero and Abraham were ‘blocked’ by Ashley? I keep hearing articles say this but is it fake news? Maybe Rafa just decided the money is better spent elsewhere?

    • Jimblag23

      I agree with that, it seems like something that someone has made up and then just gets repeated.

    • GToon

      To be honest when Rafa made his comment abot the club needing to be run professionally I thought it was more of a dig at Charnley than Ashley. Charnley is involved in the day to day running of the club and seems, how shall I put it, to be very slow at everything he does.

      • mactoon

        spot on as far as Charnleys attempts to get deals done

    • mactoon

      Abraham was not blocked by Ashley, he simply didn’t want to come here so was time wasted on a player who was never going to come. One of the early mistakes Rafa refers to

  • TheFatController

    there is hope, clearly, because if you dissect the issues he stated in the interview they are limited to the following ;-

    – he has no cash so should sell the club (unfit to own a club clearly)
    – The Mansours at Man City
    – PSG breaking the transfer record for Neymar
    – Newcastle can’t make the £1m per season in naming rights for the ground

    So, one club in the PL, one club in France, £1m lost revenue per season and his lack of cash, are the major issues, in a 30 minute interview

    the one thing he is correct about is he knows nothing about football, and that proves it…

  • X,WHY,Y MAN.

    I appreciate you taking the time to write the article but when it comes to asking who you believe between Ashley and Rafa it’s a bit like asking is the Pope a Catholic ?
    We have 10 years of history to fall back on to tell us everything we need to know about Michael Wallace Ashley and who you would believe etc etc etc

    • Leazes Ender

      Michael James Wallace Ashley born in Walsall, West Midlands. 1964 not Burnham as he says. Mother Barbara from Grimsby Father Keith from West Midlands…..

      He even lies about his place of birth.

      • MichaelMaximusMoose

        did you read that he`d paid his brother millions & forgot about it until asked under oath, his Bro also made £300,000 out of delivering for Sports Direct but got DHL to do it
        😁😁

        • GToon

          Haha, that’s funny! I bet Ashley saw the funny side of that scam too.

        • Leazes Ender

          That’s a new one on me. I know he lavishes money on all of his family…. he must have had to sell loads of shares to do so because apparently all of his wealth is tied up….. unless of course he’s forgotten about MASH holdings account with over five hundred million in it.

  • Mike

    A hard up billionaire wot ever next?

  • Geordie-7676

    1 – Rafa is probably a bit misled at the minimal financial backing received at this point, however, i also think that Rafa is just as misled at the inflated prices being seen in this window. Something that is important to remember right at this moment in time, is that the 17 clubs that played in the EPL last season received a minimum of 60m more than we did in prize money. We all knew that the worst time to go down was when we did (We said it plenty in the 15/16 season) because of the influx of money. Those 17 clubs are now reaping those benefits, we aren’t. A lot of people are saying that Brighton and Huddersfield are spending more than us, something which cant be argued, but their prize money goes a lot further than ours. Why? their running costs are less than ours. Wages, stadium costs, facilities….they are all less than ours. This time next year, provided we stay up (Which i think we will, and will do so with Rafa at the helm) we will be in a stronger position, and will break our transfer record.

    2 – As someone who is clearly trying to sell the club, his personal PR is important, however, he isn’t selling himself, he is trying to sell the club. I believe that his interview was a genuine attempt at appeasement, and clarity. It’s just unfortunate that he is incapable of coming across well. I’m not saying that all of it was genuine (Apologies to Keegan, Shearer and Hughton being the obvious) but at the same time, alot of it, keeping an open mind, did make sense. We cant compete with the PSG’s and Man City’s of the world, and right now, due to the prize money factors stated above, it is also difficult to compete with the Watford’s and Stoke’s of the world. 12 months time, and we will be back on a level playing field.

  • magpiefifer

    It’s a no-brainer of an answer – as fans we’ve had a decade of Ashley’s tricks!The ignorance of the man in not even meeting with Rafa on one of his rare SJP visits says it all.
    What surprises me is that Rafa is still here – but for how long!?

  • GToon

    Dean, I only understand the first question. The second one goes on a bit for me mate. The bottom line is we have an opportunity here in the EPL.
    1. With that opportunity comes the need to try and secure our place for next season and make sure we aren’t relegated.
    2. The investment can be recouped at the end of the season if needs be when the huge payments are handed out.
    3. It’s almost like owning a shop – buy the goods and then get the money back and a bit more later on.
    4. If we don’t invest we risk losing our place in the EPL.
    Now I’ve numbered those points because it makes it look really simple and to me it really is that simple.

  • foggy

    I reckon the real reason for Ashley’s lack of investment in new players in this window is because he is going to sell the club in the coming months.
    He’s probably got a buyer already lined up.

    • Leazes Ender

      Doubt it… he just wants to see the club struggle and the fans squirm and journalists crawl.

  • Steve Pearce

    Yes – what’s the point in investing millions in a club that your’e trying to sell. The new owners will have the money to bring in quality, but it is important that they realise what it means to be a Newcastle player and are just not in it for the money.

  • Desree

    Did he talk about the horse and cart. Is he still hanging around until we win something before he sells?

  • Toontillidie

    The billionare runs our club as a BUISNESS! So we should do the same. If you are not happy with a product/service dont buy it. I will not put one penny into his pocket, until the crowd attendences drop significantly he will continue to spread his poison.