No secret that Mike Ashley has friends in the media who will back his side of any argument.
One of those is Graeme Bailey.
In the past, the former Sky Sports journalist has consistently stood up for Mike Ashley in any Newcastle United debate, particularly when his mate Graham Carr was also at the club. Often trying to portray the Ashley/Carr disastrous transfer strategy as some kind of success.
Graeme Bailey now writes for the Gambling Times, which coincidentally a certain David Craig also writes for, that being the same David Craig/’Craigie’ who conducted the embarrassing Mike Ashley ‘interview’ that appeared on Sky Sports.
Interestingly, in an article today for Gambling Times, Graeme Bailey launches an astonishing attack on Premier League club owners for undermining their manager in the transfer market this summer.
Amusingly, it is Sullivan & Gold and Slaven Bilic he has written about, not Mike Ashley and Rafa Benitez….
In 2016/17 Rafa Benitez produced a £40m net transfer profit, whilst Slaven Bilic had a net spend of £40m in 2016/17 (gross spending of £75m).
This summer West Ham have spent around £41m and recouped £23m, meaning a net spend of £18m, whilst Newcastle have a net spend of only £11.5m.
Bilic’ comments though don’t really tell the whole truth, because as well as big money deals for Arnautovic (£24m) and Hernandez (£16m), West Ham have also allowed him to bring in players such as Joe Hart on loan and Zabaleta on a free.
These last two are exactly the kind of signings Rafa Benitez has been blocked from doing, due to the fact that they predictably come with very high wages. Which of course is also the case with Hernandez and Arnautovic, an unwillingness to pay market level wages, just as big a hindrance at Newcastle as the failure to compete (with Burnley, Swansea, Bournemouth, West Brom etc etc) on transfer fees.
The comments made today by Graeme Bailey about the situation at West Ham beggars belief, especially when you see below what he has said in recent months about Newcastle United and the position he takes on Mike Ashley & Rafa Benitez.
Graeme Bailey writing in the Gambling Times – 2 September 2017:
Anyone who follows West Ham United with any interest, will know that Slaven Bilic is under pressure.
The Hammers have made indeed made a poor start to the season – no getting away form the fact, and indeed Bilic could be to blame.
But how on earth can any manager work with a pair of owners like David Sullivan and David Gold.
The pair of them are everything that is bad about the modern game.
Let’s take the transfer window for example, without going into detail – they failed to sign William Carvalho from Sporting Lisbon for numerous reasons – but it is safe to say it was a failure within the West Ham hierarchy to get the deal done.
But then in order to cover his own back, Sullivan attempts to throw Bilic under the bus by stating that he turned down the chance to sign Renato Sanches and Grzegorz Krychowiak – who subsequently joined Premier League rivals Swansea and West Brom.
“Grzegorz Krychowiak and Renato Sanches were both offered to the manager before their switches elsewhere, but he told us that he is happy with the squad he has,” opined Sullivan.
“As a board we are behind Slaven, and he believes he has the tools to turn around our form and rectify our disappointing start to the season.”
But you have to ask yourself why? Why would a chairman do this? Easy answer – self publicity. Sullivan thinks the West Ham fans would think bad of him for not signing a player they want, so what to do…blame the manager.
Chairmen and owners should be seen and heard when necessary, but constant blabbering to all sections of the media just cheapens any club that do this. Both David’s Gold and Sullivan, think they are men of the people, that they are beloved.
Well Mr Sullivan, you are wrong – the West Ham fans are not stupid, they can see through you shameless self publicity.
So what if Bilic did say no, why make the public – lets see what Bilic says about the players that Sullivan said no to.
If Sullivan wants rid of Bilic, fair enough – just do it, or say that – but these underhand tactics are just beyond belief – it highlights just how clueless the owners of West Ham are and how without any sort of class they are.
Shame on you Mr Sullivan…Slaven Bilic is a West Ham legend, don’t forget that – it is something you will never be!
Graeme Bailey writing in the Gambling Times – 5 February 2017:
Rafa Benitez wants to run Newcastle United, which is admirable but maybe he should concentrate on giving the club some success first – something which he is yet to do.
Benitez came in late last season and oversaw their relegation to the Championship, armed with the best squad in the division and then a dozen signings to boot – is it unreasonable to ask him get on and secure promotion? No.
So why throughout January do we hear Benitez bemoaning United’s spending? Early in the month owner Mike Ashley sat down with the manager and director Lee Charnley and vented his anger at the senior management at the state of both the squad and their season.
Ashley, and rightfully so, believes the current squad is ‘miles away’ from being a Premier League one and on top of that feels that a host of the summer signings were very poor.
With that Ashley has demanded his transfer supremo Graham Carr – who was concentrating on foreign scouting for the last 8 months or so – is brought back into the decision making process in order to try and get their business plan back on track.
And Newcastle fans have reacted with anger at Ashley and Carr again being in control – but the Magpies supremo knows he will have to spend in excess of £100million on squad improvements this summer as promotion does look firmly on the cards. However, if you are spending sums like that you cannot be wasting it.
Benitez needs to stop questioning Ashley, he will not win that war. Yes the fans love the Spaniard, but don’t forget who brought him in and his huge wages.
Ashley has every right to question what has been going on at his club – they could and should be dominating the Championship, but they are far from it.
Benitez was demanding the signing of Andros Townsend which caused most of the frustration in January – he wanted Ashley to give Palace a £2million profit on a player who has shown no form whatsoever since leaving Newcastle – so rather than saying why didn’t Ashley sign him, the question should be why did Benitez think that they should be over-paying for someone who in no way merits such a fee. The failure of the deal had nothing to do with Carr, or indeed anyone at Newcastle – they showed good business sense by not over-paying for a player, who they know the value of.
If a deal is there to be done, it will be done – but as it should be, only for the right terms.
Let’s get this straight, Benitez is a brilliant coach – he is at one of the biggest club’s in England, and if he can get things right on the pitch, then there is little doubt he will be backed off it. If things do click, then Newcastle could and should be dining at the top table of not just English football but European football, sooner rather than later.
Graeme Bailey writing in the Gambling Times – 9 May 2017:
Newcastle fans should thank Mike Ashley not call for his head
Despite financing another Newcastle United promotion back to the Premier League – Mike Ashley is again being cast as the ‘bad guy’ in the soap opera that St James’ Park is constantly immersed in.
Rafa Benitez guided Newcastle to the title – which is an achievement, but this is hardly Bournemouth or Burnley making to the Premier League, this is the biggest club, with the best squad and the biggest budget making it.
Benitez is in a strong position, of sorts, given he has the fans backing 100 per cent against his boss – yet Newcastle’s hierarchy have already made it clear that he won’t have carte blanche to do as he pleases in the transfer market this summer, but that is by no means to say that he won’t be given the finances to compete – he will.
Benitez brought in 15 players off the back of being given much more of a free reign than previous managers – but the results left a lot to be desired.
Mike Ashley made his thoughts known in January that the squad he paid to build in the previous summer, was not up to scratch.
Indeed of the 15 players (ED: Rafa only brought in 11 signings on permanent deals and Atsu on a loan) brought in, most on long-term deals – hardly any have increased in value and would give Newcastle a profit. Dwight Gayle – aside – who you could possibly make a couple of million on, the rest do not come up to scratch, and some of them have left the club dumbfounded.
…whilst Newcastle fans will be clamouring for Ashley and the club to spend £100million this summer, they need to remember just how poor state the squad is currently in.
Yes he has got some appointments wrong like Steve McClaren – no doubting that – but don’t forget who brought Rafa Benitez in!
Newcastle have an owner who refuses to mortgage the club’s future – instead they are one of the most secure well-run clubs in English football, yet the fans still want him out – careful what you wish for…
A few classics from above:
About West Ham –
‘lets see what Bilic says about the players that Sullivan said no to’
‘in order to cover his own back, Sullivan attempts to throw Bilic under the bus’
‘The pair of them (Sullivan and Gold) are everything that is bad about the modern game.’
‘Well Mr Sullivan, you are wrong – the West Ham fans are not stupid, they can see through you shameless self publicity.’
‘Sullivan thinks the West Ham fans would think bad of him for not signing a player they want, so what to do…blame the manager.’
‘If Sullivan wants rid of Bilic, fair enough – just do it, or say that – but these underhand tactics are just beyond belief’
About Newcastle United:
‘Benitez came in late last season and oversaw their relegation to the Championship…’ (ED: Ashley, Carr and McClaren oversaw Newcastle’s relegation, Rafa was given 10 games to save the club after years of neglect/shambles)
‘the Magpies supremo (Mike Ashley) knows he will have to spend in excess of £100million on squad improvements this summer as promotion does look firmly on the cards. However, if you are spending sums like that you cannot be wasting it.’ (ED: Well £36m spent (only £11.5m net), so where is the rest of it????)
‘Newcastle fans should thank Mike Ashley not call for his head’
‘Despite financing another Newcastle United promotion back to the Premier League – Mike Ashley is again being cast as the ‘bad guy’’ (ED: It was Ashley who got Newcastle relegated!)
‘Newcastle have an owner who refuses to mortgage the club’s future – instead they are one of the most secure well-run clubs in English football’
‘don’t forget who brought Rafa Benitez in!’ (ED: It was Rafa who approached Newcastle)
‘Newcastle fans will be clamouring for Ashley and the club to spend £100million this summer…that is by no means to say that he (Rafa) won’t be given the finances to compete – he will. (ED: Newcastle spent only £11.5m net this summer)
‘Newcastle could and should be dining at the top table of not just English football but European football, sooner rather than later.’ (ED: When Bournemouth are spending £20m on players and Rafa spending £5m on a striker and not backed to bring in a left-back – especially with Dummett not fit until November)
‘Yes the fans love the Spaniard, but don’t forget who brought him in and his huge wages.’
‘Benitez was demanding the signing of Andros Townsend which caused most of the frustration in January – he wanted Ashley to give Palace a £2million profit… they showed good business sense by not over-paying for a player, who they know the value of.’