By the time you read this, Newcastle United may no longer be the property of Mike Ashley. Let’s hope so.

Michael James Wallace Ashley has spent the last 10 years trying to convince me he is insane.

Someone (Einstein, according to many) said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Well, Mike Ashley has done the same thing repeatedly for a decade, and to no one’s surprise, is getting exactly the same results.

The lessons never seem to sink in. He buys cheap, and for the most part, gets what he paid for. If one of those players turns out to be better than that, he sells him. He’s been doing it for years. And lo and behold, here we are facing relegation once again.

This season, his insanity has taken on a new dimension.

Think about the team that was relegated in 2016. It featured Wijnaldum, Townsend, Janmaat and Sissoko. If you knew nothing about football, but you knew that that team wasn’t good enough, logic would tell you that you’d need a better team to survive next time you got the opportunity. If you were then informed that – in your absence – all the other teams had been given even more money to spend, you’d have to conclude that your team would need to be better still.

Yet we have a team that has very few players of note. When was the last time one of them was persistently linked with a move away? Who is in the football gossip columns as a target for a Premier League, Spanish, Italian or French side? Who are we scared of losing now? I can’t think of anyone that fans are desperate to keep in the way they were with Carroll, Cabaye, Townsend et al.

I’m not having a pop at the players. I believe they are trying to do a good job. But their self-confidence and their belief in their colleagues seems to be eroding with every performance. Rafa can only do so much, and I cannot agree with any fan who thinks we can do better than him. But hard work and discipline will only paper over the cracks for a while. We need quality.

I wish I had a pound for every time a manager or pundit says a team “just lacked that bit of quality”. It’s a cliché, but in our team’s case, it’s valid.

A Manchester-dwelling mate of mine got me posh seats at Old Trafford, which meant I had to behave myself for fear of getting him banned. And when you watch a game rather than react to it, you see a lot more. The main thing I took out of that game was how much better manure’s passing was than ours. Obviously, Pogba was head and shoulders above the rest of the talent on display, but as a rule, most of their passes ended up with one of their players, on his favoured foot, and in a position where he could run on to it, or use the space he was in. We gave it a good go for most of the game, but too many of our passes fell short, or fell behind a player, or just ended up with an opponent.

That’s what I mean when I say we lack quality. Things like that make a difference. I don’t think manure are a great side, but they did for Newcastle with the quality of their passing. I dread to think what Man City will do to us. They are the best passing side I have seen in the Premier League.

So, here we are with a week or so to go before the January 2018 transfer window opens, with a man Einstein would class as insane in charge of the budget.

He seems unwilling or unable to change his behaviour, even though it must be clear to him that this make us odds-on favourites to get relegated again. And medical opinion is almost entirely unified in its view that there is no cure for insanity.

All we can hope for now is that someone – be it Amanda Staveley or Mike Ashley’s Secret Santa – puts him out of his misery and takes the club off his hands, and quick.

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  • MichaelMaximusMoose

    He`ll be in the Nag`s Head celebrating, having at last washed his hand`s of the Geordie`s
    little Den & JFK will be with him quaffing down the ale & listening to Chas & Dave on the Juke box.
    £50m better off.
    Son of Satan always lands on his feet !

    • HappyToons

      Got me thinking that Mike is actually insane. Like ‘the secret shopper’ that appears out of the background and checks out Asda or M&S, he has become ‘the secret owner’ and a pathological hater of Geordies. I can imagine him at every game with a different disguise checking out our reaction or overreaction to whatever he has instigated that week. One minute he is the bloke on the train with the kipper tie chuckling at the Daily Star headline ‘Toon in Paradise’ as you glance left; next he is in the same pub wearing an overtight five bellies ‘I am the Number 1’ Goalkeeper’s top and even the gloves, clutching some bottle of wine and a sports direct carrier bag. Then he is just behind as you walk to the game with a scarf round his wrist and a faded denim suit, with stubby fingers smoking a cigar and eating a mince pie with his three thumbs. Then he is the solo topless idiot in the crowd chanting ‘we’re going to win the league’ as we go 0-3 down.

      Now that he has invented another takeover as he sat with pals in Paradise, he is the fat bloke in the string vest and santa hat with the big grin behind the sunglasses as Citeh stick 8 past us. Look out Ashley is about…it is pantomime season (every season with Ashley?)…’He’s behind YOU, Oh, No He isn’t…O YES HE IS!

      Have a paranoid Xmas and a manic new year!

      • Peaky Magpie

        Very good 👍 Should be made into a short animated film.

  • TheFatController

    On your Man Utd’s better passing comment, I noticed that against Leicester, their one and two touch was far superior to ours, taking the ball into space, making the next pass easier through better speed of thought and limb …

    • Soldier

      far superior players compared with ours

      • Buck Blacket

        Leicester didn’t get relegated last season and didn’t have to do ‘major surgery’ to their squad like we did. They pretty much have most of the squad that won the league two seasons ago so drawing comparisons is completely pointless.

        • TheFatController

          Sorry, I bow to your superiority on this.

          I just added to the writer’s point about the difficulties our players find against PL opposition that can’t really be coached.

          Give me your number and I’ll call and ask for your permission to comment on an article in future. Seems that’s the natural order of things in your life….

          • Buck Blacket

            Maybe you’re blind or maybe you have a victim complex but I wasn’t even talking to you. I was pointing out to Soldier that he was stating the obvious and the circumstances of why that is but at least we agree on one thing, my superiority ;)

          • TheFatController

            I have absolutely nothing to draw on to form an opinion on you so can’t answer that last point.

            But I do know that a superiority polarisation without any evidence or demonstration of its existence is the last refuge of the insecure person…ranting about perceived superiority didn’t work out too well for the 20th Century’s most infamous insecure freak, I just hope you don’t plan on invading Poland any time soon …

            Enjoy your drama triangle Christmas, bet your family cannot wait.

          • Buck Blacket

            You said it, the wink at the end of my reference to YOUR comment denotes it was clearly tongue in cheek. Given that my comment wasn’t even addressed to you in the first place and you’ve gotten all passive aggressive and defensive about it and I am the insecure one? Merry Christmas captain salty ;)

          • TheFatController

            I never said I wasn’t insecure, however aware of my insecurity (based on the fact that everyone is insecure in, usually, a majority of ways, most of them hidden by defence mechanisms such as – probably the most widely known – that of ‘denial’) I’d never presume to call myself superior to anyone.

            I just pointed out that of all the defence mechanisms available to the insecure person, denial manifesting as claims of superiority is ticking the psychology 101 box…

            Season’s greetings…

          • Buck Blacket

            Eh? Were you talking to me? Because i wasn’t talking to you…not that it matters apparently lol

        • MYOFB

          Of course it makes sense to draw comparisons. They are a Premier League rival. All the other 19 clubs are, and we should compare ourselves with all of them. If there are 3 that are worse than us, we might survive. If not, we’ll be comparing ourselves with the likes of Boro, Brentford, Birmingham and Barnsley next Christmas.

          • TheFatController

            Thanks. Yes, when someone asks anyone ‘who will win/lose/come first/last?’ they are being asked to make comparisons.

            Sport is all about the comparative strengths and weaknesses – coaches exist to maximise one and minimise the other.

            To find that comparisons are pointless might just put all of Rafa’s coaching staff out of jobs….

          • Buck Blacket

            I am just trying to highlight the differences in the circumstances of both clubs over the last three seasons. Leicester are lightyears ahead of us in terms of squad development and quality and that’s why drawing comparisons is pointless at the present time. That’s all down to Ashley’s greed and miss management of the club and I doubt it will change unless he goes because he never learns from past failures.

        • HarryHype59

          Leicester won the league the season we got relegated again under Ashley!

          That sums up the problems at this club!

          • Buck Blacket

            Of course it does and we should resign ourselves to more of the same whilst he remains the owner.

  • heretickle

    If we spend 20-40 million during window, that means the takeover has gone through and Amanda would have done her job with Mike Ashley doing his part of the bargain. If we spend nothing, the takeover is a fraud and Rafa is walking out.

    • Leazes Ender

      A significan amount should be spent regardless of who owns the club

      • GToon

        Does the club get some of the tv money around now?

        • Leazes Ender

          Dunno check it out.

        • HarryHype59

          According to the Chronicle (I know) The club received a lump sum in July and receives monthly TV money payments throughout the season.

          A second lump sum is paid, at the start of the Jan window. A final lump sum that includes payment for the final position is received at the end of the season.

          Our beloved and esteemed owner has already had his pudgy mitts on a canny wedge of the TV money!

          • GToon

            Ok. Ta

    • TheNutJob

      £30m will only paper over the cracks, if you want a decent squad of around 15 players, we need 8 or 9

  • robbersdog

    Ashley’s a billionaire; I wish I was that f*cking insane!

    • TheNutJob


  • TheNutJob

    me Dad says Rafa took the queens shilling, it`s his & fattys mess to sort out

  • X,WHY,Y MAN.

    What a swizz !, I read this and when I got to the end of the article f**kin’ Mike Ashley is still owner of Newcastle United ffs.

  • Gandalf Greyhame

    As an American fan following Newcastle United because of DeAndre Yedlin’s presence on the team, I can attest to how much better Yedlin has become as a defender since joining Newcastle, under Rafa’s tutelage, compared to his previous crappy coaching in MLS. Granted, his improvement started with Sam Allardyce during his year at Sunderland, but he has gotten so much better. And yes, lately he has had a dip in form, as has the rest of the team. This isn’t Rafa’s fault. I got a chance to watch almost all of their match with Arsenal, and it’s clear that Newcastle could have come away with a one point and a 0-0 result but for one poorly cleared defensive header and a superb volley shot by Ozil. Their defense was otherwise fairly solid. Bad luck that. What was sadly missing was not so much a top rate striker, but great midfielders. Arsenal’s midfield DOMINATED Newcastle – it wasn’t even close. All except Atsu were NOTICEABLY SLOWER, Matt Ritchie and Isaac Hayden especially. All except Merino lacked the touch and field sense to not lose the ball in one-on-ones. Over and over, whenever a Newcastle player got the ball, they would get chased down by a much faster Arsenal player and either stripped of the ball, or the Newcastle player would make some hasty pass to no where or to an Arsenal player. Atsu had speed, but went down far too easily when challenged, which is how he lost the ball most of the time, he needs to bulk up and get some muscle to not let himself get knocked around like that. Ritchie was too slow, he got tracked down constantly and lost the ball. He was great in the Championship, but just too slow for the EPL. Merino was one of the few midfielders who looked like he belonged on the same field with the EPL class Arsenal midfielders – he has the strength to not get knocked over, as well as the touch and the field vision to actually do something with the ball. Joselu? He worked hard and tried, but he had no support, and he is too clumsy with the ball when under pressure, that is why he can’t score and why he is a liability in matches, even though people say he does great in practice sessions. Dwight Gayle is too slight, despite his speed, which worked for him in the Championship, but which is not exceptional in the EPL, and he lost the ball too easily also. Yedlin had a decent match – he mostly stayed back, and nobody ever got past him. His offensive passing still needs improvement.

    • Leazes Ender

      Lets hope Ashley and Trump are consigned to the garbage can of history in the New Year….. the hobbitses have a ring about them.

      • Gandalf Greyhame

        Trump will get his after the Nov. 6, 2018 mid-term elections. Democrats are on track to sweep the House in a “wave” election and re-take the House, which means they will have control of the House committees and full investigative and subpoena power, as well as the ability to release Trump’s tax returns to the public. So we will see why he loves the Russians so much, finally. Expect lots of fireworks come 2019.
        Meanwhile, have you Brits had second thoughts about Brexit? 69% of the EPL players are foreigners, what’s Brexit going to do to the EPL? I see nothing but bad things for Britain coming from Brexit.

        • HarryHype59

          Brexit isn’t happening bud! The establishment won’t allow it!

    • thewildchimp

      An excellent analysis, mate!

    • Whickhamrobbie

      Get a job at the Chronicle mate a better summing up than ryder and his like.
      Which of our players would even make Arsenals bench ?
      Thats why we lost 10 years of squad neglect not luck.

  • Rev

    But we are going backwards on the pitch, eveyones form has dipped, Rafa’s buys are duds, his players Are constantly reminded he has no confidence in them and the football we play is on a par with the worst we saw under previous managers. Our “17th will do” policy is the cause of all this but It doesnt hide the fact that we seem to have lost the ability to coach and manage and succeed. If things dont change soon then it may come down to keeping the manager for the long term or changing him to stay up. Given the chiice i’ll take any manager who succeeds

    • Gandalf Greyhame

      Lascelles and Merino were injured during the start of this long stretch of “dip in form”. I would argue that those two are among the BEST of the current crop of Newcastle players, true EPL-class players, and Newcastle have no one close to replacing them, and cannot play well without them. Newcastle were unlucky against Arsenal, and played decently, and tried hard. The difference? One shot on goal – Ozil took a weak defensive header out of the air and shot an unstoppable volley into the net. Most ordinary players would have either blasted the ball into the stands or squibed the shot, or tried to trap the ball and then shoot, and then had it blocked (e.g., Joselu, Gayle, Mitrovic). Ozil cost Arsenal £42.5 million in 2013, somebody like him would almost certainly cost over £100 million today.

      • Rev

        Definately seem to improve the team but you get nowt for wffort. Rafa needs to get everyone over achieving and stop losing or we will be relegated. Is he the man to save us? Dunno. If you look at what he has achieved here, not what he or anyone else did elsewhere/could do with unlimited funds then the jury is out for me. Best manager since Bobby when he has done less than everyone bar McClown? Ask me next yeat

  • thewildchimp

    Can’t agree that Ashley is insane. He pretty much gets what he wants. Survival at minimum costs. But even lab results oscillate, so sometimes we are above the 17th place, sometimes below.