Mike Ashley had his name repeatedly sung at The Emirates on Saturday.

The Newcastle hardcore away fans leaving nobody in doubt as to who is to blame for the position the club/team now finds itself in.

Yes, everybody can contribute more, whether it is manager or players, but supporters understand that it is the actions of the club’s owner that make the job all but impossible.

However, this hasn’t prevented the top Mike Ashley pet journalist, Graeme Bailey, from now saying the blame lies with Rafa Benitez, not the club’s owner.

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.

As well as his latest piece attacking Rafa Benitez and defending Mike Ashley, I have also given a reminder below of some of his previous ridiculous articles in support of Ashley.

These include in February, telling Rafa to stop complaining when he wasn’t allowed to spend a single penny in January, ironic that in that piece Bailey says 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’. Yet in his latest article he argues that just over £30m and a net spend of £11.5m (compared to £40m+ for both Brighton and Huddersfield) this summer should have been enough for Rafa Benitez.

Then in July he wrote another piece attacking Benitez, saying that Mike Ashley wasn’t happy with the manager saying he wasn’t getting backing in the transfer market, Graeme Bailey saying that the club’s owner would end up backing Rafa properly. Of course as we all know Rafa Benitez made clear that promises weren’t kept when we got to the end of the summer window.

In November with takeover talks seemingly stalling and fans blaming Mike Ashley, as claims were made through the media by both sides. To undermine Amanda Staveley and back up Mike Ashley, Graeme Bailey claimed that the Staveley bid included a ridiculous clause that the full amount would only be paid if Newcastle went on to win the Premier League!

Newcastle fans don’t think that Rafa Benitez is faultless but they do know what the big fat problem really is at St James Park. As for his latest article, the club themselves reported that Rafa Benitez made them a £40m profit in the summer 2016 transfer window, when Rafa spent just over £50m and sold players for in excess of £90m.

Then estimates this summer were generally that around £34m/£35m had been spent with over £20m recouped, as well as a whole host of other first team squad players leaving on free transfers and on loan deals.

No way has Rafa Benitez spent ‘more than £100m since taking charge’.

Even Arsene Wenger at the weekend said Rafa Benitez was doing a very good job in light of the fact he hadn’t been properly backed this summer in the transfer market.

Graeme Bailey writing for The Gambling Times – 19 December 2017:

‘Newcastle fans are looking for a spark, they’re looking to Rafa Benitez – but are they right to place all their faith in the Spaniard?

…a possible takeover of the club, which if anything gives Benitez the ideal shadow to cover the tracks of his failing side.

Benitez has spent more than £100million since taking charge, he spent over £30million this summer – but since he took over, it is easy to argue this Newcastle squad is worse.

Benitez is quick to ‘claim’ that Newcastle could not live with the likes of Huddersfield and Brighton in the summer, which at best is misleading.

Look at one deal, the £12million spent on Jacob Murphy for instance. He has started just seven games, a work in progress maybe? One for the future? But if either of those are true why would a manager with such a tight budget, spend a huge chunk of his budget on a squad player?

Perhaps Benitez should back himself as much as the fans do – last year Benitez was quick to sanction a number of departures from the previous regime, one of those was Florian Thauvin – who many in the club’s hierarchy thought still had a future.

Now Thauvin, back in Marseille, is regarded as one of the best young midfielders in Europe – indeed he is being linked with a big money switch Atletico Madrid…

This Newcastle squad, which has sunk into the relegation places, looks good enough to stay up, add a ‘world class’ coach and they should easily avoid going down – they are surely the only team in the bottom-half of the Premier League with a manager of such calibre, and if they are – they should be staying up.

It is very easy for Newcastle fans to blame owner Mike Ashley for their current plight, but let’s not forget who spent the last £100million to leave the club’s coffers – who sanctioned every single deal…

Benitez is one of the highest paid manager’s in the Premier League – he needs to start earning it.’

Graeme Bailey 21 November 2017‏:

“The offer for Newcastle from Amanda Staveley & PCP Capital Partners is £300m but that is only if Newcastle went on to win the Premier League, and they also want relegation release clauses – offer is way, way off the mark.

Graeme Bailey – 1 July 2017:

‘Newcastle United have insisted they will back Rafa Benitez in the transfer market but are growing increasingly frustrated with him venting his annoyance through certain sections of the media.

Back page headlines last weekend and subsequent reports suggested that Benitez was considering his future unless he got funds to bolster his squad.

Newcastle sources are now insistent that they are providing funds to bolster the squad.

But Newcastle hierarchy are not happy by what they perceive as Benitez driven reports.’

Graeme Bailey- 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.’

  • Paul Patterson

    “The offer for Newcastle from Amanda Staveley & PCP Capital Partners is £300m but that is only if Newcastle went on to win the Premier League, and they also want relegation release clauses – offer is way, way off the mark.”
    This ‘Journalist’ needs to be careful. How does he know this, if indeed he does? If he has been told this by someone, then this could be classed as breaking the disclosure agreement.

    • Mark Potter

      You can’t break an agreement if you are not party to it.

      • HTL

        But someone party to the agreement would have broken it, when they disclosed the figures.

        • Mark Potter

          The journalist doesn’t need to worry about that. If he didn’t sign an NDA, then he can’t be sued. And the parties to the NDA don’t know who leaked the information to him, and can’t force him to reveal his source.

  • robbersdog

    I’m guessing that Graeme Bailey is one of Ashley’s ‘drink ’till you puke’ buddies, and that Rafa knows he’s being undermined, and won’t stick around if there’s no sale on the horizon very soon.

  • Rev

    So the claim that Rafa has spent 100m and the squad is worse but we have a prospect who may come good but has done nowt yet is fake news … and the manager being responsible for what the squad does on the pitch is fake news then? Didnt Rafa say we all have to do better starting with me? Next five games will tell us more then, you cant have it both ways, same players, same tactics, same result every week. Giz a job i could do that for 5m

  • Andynufc

    Look at it another way. Sine Mike Ashley bought the club ten years ago, he has never sanctioned a deal over 14 million on 1 single player. Everyone knows he would never agree to spend 20 plus on a player so this has limited every manager in terms of the type of quality they can buy.

    • Mark Potter

      Rafa said he asked Ashley whether he could spend his whole budget on a single marquee player, in other words, break the transfer record. He said that he could. Rafa chose not to.

      Rafa decided to spread the money around, including getting some loan deals (Merino worked out, he failed with Abraham) and bargain players (Lejeune worked out ok).

      The closest Rafa came to spending big was Murphy. A player most fans of Premiership clubs would rightly say, who? No Prem experience, a single good Champ season. Nothing much we have seen from him so far suggests that he deserved to be our top signing of the summer. Atsu is far and away our best winger, another relative bargain costing only £6m.

  • Ha

    Isn’t in Benitez who always uses his contacts in journalism to criticise Ashley and manipulate facts to make it look like he’s hard done by? Buys a load of garbage to get out of the championship instead of building a squad then moans they aren’t good enough.. logic.

    • TheFatController

      I don’t understand what you’ve written, but I’ll tell you why

      – the ‘garbage’ he bought, if sold, would fetch the same amount or more if sold now – I cite Gayle, Ritchie, Clark, Yedlin, Hayden, Diame (cos he cost little at 29 years old) and Atsu.
      – were he to sell them all, and be given a reasonable budget (ie £40m not £10m on PL players) we’d have a good squad.

      So a manager bought players for the championship that have not lost value. Having no money to replace them however, what logic makes you angry that we have a championship squad still? We don’t pay PL transfer fees, we pay £12m max, probably about £5m on average. Is that Rafa’s fault. Should he put his own money in to top up transfer budgets?

      • Ha

        It’s pathetic how far your heads are up rafas a**e. What’s he Done for Newcastle? Nowt. Why would you get more than you paid for players who aren’t good enough and who you paid over the odds for? Are you simple? He signed Joselu and Murphy for 17m, that’s more than enough for a proven goalscorer. You’ve got the same net spend as Liverpool and Burnley combined over the last 3 seasons. Just let that sink in

        • TheFatController

          If your ego needs me to be simple I’ll let it run away with itself on that one. Does it feel good? Big payoff of Adrenalin from the compulsive rush superiority (albeit only demonstrated by rhetoric) gives you ?

          Although simple I understand from your musings you show signs of narcissistic personality disorder and employ pathological gaslighting tactics to get some unhealthy payoff of feeling superior.

          Seems simple people like me can qualify as therapists these days. So I did. You won’t feel you need therapy, but that’s always the sure sign somebody does.

          You must be hours of fun at Christmas …

          • TheFatController

            Actually, your signs of disorder are not dissimilar from similar traits I see in Ashley. You’re on Rafa’s case all the time also. Can I ask, are you actually Mike Ashley? Just a theory I have based on the behaviours both you and Ashley show.

        • KRS1

          Bell end

      • Mark Potter

        You say that £40m not £10m is a reasonable budget. But didn’t Rafa spend that much in the summer? Lejeune, Merino, Manquillo, Joselu, Atsu were about £30m, plus £12m for his top signing of Murphy.

        • TheFatController

          £40m net I meant he should have been given. My £10m refers to the widely known net spend value for the summer.

          Thus an extra £30m (+£5m saved by not having to get Joselu in to make up numbers) could have gone on a striker, keeper and LB

          • Mark Potter

            Rafa had money left over at the end of the window, he’s mentioned it several times, though not how much. We also know that he was trying to sell Mitro, Colback, Haidara and Darlow at least, and even some reports included Gayle. If, with the cash he had available and

        • cmrowley

          He has to have a squad to play with. Would you spend all that money on a single player? We wouldn’t have had enough players to start the second game of the season!

    • cmrowley

      You asked a question, a silly question betraying your ignorance, but a question none the less. Every question deserves an answer.


      On a side note, your use of the word logic doesn’t make any sense, it is in fact, illogical.
      What are you trying to say?
      You ask a question, then make a statement of opinion, then just stick in the word logic.

      Are you trying to infer that the word salad you have written is based on logic? Or that the ‘buying garbage instead of building a squad the moaning’ is logic?

      Can you clear this up please?

      • Mark Potter

        I don’t see anything much wrong with his point. It’s perfectly good English, in the sense that I understand what he was saying, and I speak English. That’s all that’s required in our language. Shakespeare couldn’t have phrased his point any better.

        You don’t need to use phrases like “word salad” and introduce “side notes”, nor discuss whether using the word “logic” is illogical. It just makes you look like an intellectual elitist.

        And you still didn’t actually address his point about Rafa and whether the players Rafa has bought are good enough. This is a football blog, not a Sixth Form debating society.

        • cmrowley

          I did address his point, I answered his question, the answer was no. I thought that was clear.

          I then sought some clarification on the next part of his post (so I could address/discuss further) as it is not clear what his point is. I even offered some suggestions to help clarify.

          I’m not sure what your objections are to be honest.

          • Mark Potter

            It looks like an ad hominem attack about his English. It would be pretty odd if someone who talks about side notes doesn’t understand that “.. logic.” Could be written “… Logic!”. And is merely an expletive:

            expletive in British. (ɪkˈspliːtɪv ) an exclamation or swearword; an oath or a sound expressing an emotional reaction rather than any particular meaning. any syllable, word, or phrase conveying no independent meaning, esp one inserted in a line of verse for the sake of the metre.

        • cmrowley

          I have to disagree with you on one of your points though..

          “It’s perfectly good English, in the sense that I understand what he was saying, and I speak English. That’s all that’s required in our language”

          The very fact that I (and I see someone else who responded) don’t really know what he (or she) is saying demonstrates that it isn’t perfectly good English. If it was clear what was meant then I wouldn’t have asked.

  • Leazes Ender

    There are Journalists closer to home that you think are friends and portray themselves as such…..

    ……Lee Ryder on the eve of the Liverpool game was interviewed by a Liverpool fanzine eager for info from inside the training ground….. Lee obliged of course. go and look for yourselves.

    Lee dad was born in Liverpool and himself an ardent reds fan, spent his childhood in Shields mocking United’s fans, kicking a tennis ball against a kerb wearing his new xmas shirt….

    If you ever wondered why Ryder never refers to ‘us’ or ‘we’ when writing about United…. this is the reason… little empathy for United other than making a living, as a teen he escaped to Scunthorpe to to his College work, (his mums home town coincidentally – no paternal Geordie roots) but he was once pictured at SJP looking a little lost.

    The greatest damage done to United is done by this individual, the London press harang him for inside information which they run away with. This is the reason I was glad the Chronicle was banned from inside the ground. Ryder feeds them his lowly view of United and they ‘luv it ‘… this week Shearer was attacked on MOTD for having the audacity to say that United should have aspirations…. we haven’t a voice really, you can’t say Shearer was frightened to say it, but will he say it again after being put down.

    Not long now until the Chronicle run their scouting mission for freebies and failures and flops…..

    …. bin dipping after all is inherent.

  • TwinFire

    Problem with Mike is, a 50/50 chance of relegation vs new Prem. TV deal money is still miles better odds than anything he can get down his local Casino!

  • Rich Lawson

    Is there really a rag called ”The Gambling Times” shurely shome mishtake ?

    • Leazes Ender

      Yes…. he’s freelance, writes for a few media outlets so makes his articles controversial to get attention, this is how its done, he worked for Sky for a dozen years so he’s known to David Craig.

      • Rich Lawson

        Is it online,otherwise circulation must be in single figures ?Then again it could be a an in house Sports Direct magazine which would explain everything !

        • Leazes Ender

          Don’t you have a search engine…. google is good although they don’t pay taxes.

          • Rich Lawson

            I was being lazy and relying on your expertise in these matters,all the best to you and yours for the New Year.

  • BillytheFish

    Journalism is a balanced view, so the other side is worth a read, whether we agree or not….

    • Leazes Ender

      No it isn’t idiot.

    • Danimal

      The journalists themselves are supposed to provide balance.

  • TheFatController

    He’s factually incorrect. Rafa wanted to keep Thauvin but sent him out on loan because he wouldn’t fit in in the championship, and (and here’s the real problem for claims Rafa let him go against the hierarchy’s wishes) Thauvin 100% did not want to stay.

    But don’t let facts get in the way of the one argument that a player sold by Rafa is better than when we sold them. I notice he doesn’t make a case for Wijnaldum, Janmaat or sissoko having upped their games since leaving ….

    • 1957

      Thauvin didn’t want to come in the first place, Marseille’s financial situation made staying virtually impossible and the attraction of a substantial financial package from us made him come, I’m told he doubled his wage

      • TheFatController

        Yes, and what is laughable is, I have no idea but I’ll guess at this, if you asked Thauvin ‘was there ever anything that made you consider staying?’ He’d maybe say ‘well, only when a manager like Rafa tells you he wants you to stay in in the PL…’

        Alternatively, I may be wrong and he may answer that question with ‘no, but maybe if they appointed Pulis or some other ‘glad just to have the job yes man’…’

        • 1957

          Benitez was on a loser with Thauvin, there was as far as I could see no manager who could have kept him at Newcastle. His girlfriend Charlotte Pirroni had a lot of work in France and had no intention of living in Newcastle, Thauvin said in an interview in France how much he missed her and flew to France every opportunity he had to be with her. I was told he didn’t socialise with others in the dressing room and was a bit of a loner.

          Football was a secondary consideration, he was 22, away from home and those he loved and he simply didn’t like it

        • Mark Potter

          He might say that. He might say, he loves the stadium and the fans, and this “big club”. All those things that he said when he first arrived, and every other player says. Doesn’t mean that they mean them. Sometimes you would think they are reading from a script.

          The signs were on the wall when he turned up on the first day for the photoshoot with a pretty little French girlfriend on his arm. And she didn’t speak English. Couldn’t imagine her shopping in the town for her clothes, handbags and shoes.

          • TheFatController

            Yes, and based on what you say, I find it bizarre Bailey writes that the club hierarchy thought he would stay.

            ‘Yes, we, the hierarchy, think the young non-English speaking French player with a non english speaking French girlfriend with her career in the south of France who hasn’t settled into the PL game at all can be convinced to stay…’

            And I though they just didn’t understand football. Seems they don’t understand human nature either ..

  • MichaelMaximusMoose

    Chances are the Fat Lad will still be here this time next year

  • Buck Blacket

    This journo must be on a retainer from fatso. According to my calculations, Rafa has a net spend of minus £20.5 million so what have I missed?

    • Mark Potter

      That he’s spent the best part of £100 million on new players.

      • Geordiegiants

        He spent £100 million ok let’s go with that. That’s still less than the team that got us relegated 2 years ago when really good players were £20/30 million. Now average players are £20/30 million. It’s all relevent, the money he spent is equivalent to about half or at least a third less, plus he has made a profit. So far more skilful players and they got us relegated, sold and less money spent, and you expect what?

      • Buck Blacket

        I don’t think you and a lot of other people know what “net” means. People (like you) conveniently ignore the quality we lost from the squad and the money that raised. Players who had no intention of playing in the Championship so no fault of Rafa. So, as I said, he has made a profit of £20.5 million. Never his intention of course but a case of fatso dealing from the bottom of the deck!

        • Mark Potter

          I do understand it. I object to it’s misuse. Rafa has spent close to £100m on:
          Murphy (the striker)
          Murphy (the winger)

          Did I miss any? That’s most of the current squad, were bought by Rafa, and he spent alot of money on them.

          So, we can discuss the accounts, and where that £100m came from, but don’t tell me Rafa made a profit. Profits don’t go out on the pitch. Profits don’t excuse 1 point in 30.

          If this was Allerdyce, McClaren, Carver etc. most on this forum would be baying for blood. We should be respectful of Rafa’s record in football generally, and his recent success in the Championship. But not act like sycophants and think he can do no wrong. His formation, team selections and substitutions have been questionable, to say the least, over the last couple of months.

          • Geordiegiants

            I don’t think he is unaccountable at all. He makes mistakes, what I’m saying is we had a squad worth twice the value last time we got relegated, and the players were half the price of what they are today.
            So what I’m saying is look at the quality of the player, yes Rafa signed them, but do you really think he wanted to, or had much in the way of choice for the money he spent.

          • Geordiegiants

            Out of all of those signings I would say only Hoss, Diame, mannequin, and you forgot Sels, are the only really bad buys. Gamez, Lazaar looked ok when they played, Hanley served a purpose. The rest are what you would expect for the money in my view.

          • Buck Blacket

            I don’t think you understand the situation. Rafa isn’t trying to make a profit, that just happened because of the financial constraints placed on him by Ashley. Half of the players you have listed were bought last season to help get us out of the Championship and most of them did a great job for us so I have no idea why you appear to be suggesting Benitez wasted money on them. As for this season, I don’t know if you have been keeping up with events but the money for players and respective wages for said players that he was promised didn’t materialise. So, Benitez pretty much had to tear up his wishlist and start from scratch. Granted, he has taken a punt on some bargain basement signings because what choice did he have? The bottom line is Rafa has spent minus £20.5 million, not by choice but because fatso reneged on financial promises!

  • magpiefifer

    Why is The Mag giving this sycophantic waster the publicity!?

  • Mitros gotta start

    Very good article with some valid points……no doubt the sheep will have a problem with it.

  • KRS1

    So many of the Ashley apologists seem to be crawling out from under their rocks over the past few days. Mikes poisoned little minnions are very vocal in criticising Rafa. Worried this is a precursor to take over failing and Rafa walking away

  • Leazes Ender

    Battered Cod