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.’