It isn’t quite as obvious as Mike Ashley turning up on your TV with his latest joke of an interview on Sky Sports.
However, in their own way, it is even more telling when the club’s owner has his PR people spread mischief by putting the message out via briefing the media.
Mike Ashley has put out three big messages since the Newcastle Takeover saga was put to bed, for the time being.
That in itself was a total joke as Ashley ruthlessly used the media to try and tell the world that Amanda Staveley and the bid she was leading had been a ‘complete waste of time’.
Whilst you would struggle anyway to find a Newcastle fan who believed Ashley’s side of things in the takeover debate, there is surely no doubt as to his neglect and risk-taking in the running of NUFC once again.
Rafa Benitez stated in December that he wanted all signings to be completed by 15 January and at the very latest by 20 January, the Newcastle boss then later revealing that Mike Ashley had told him back in December that there was definitely no takeover happening.
Despite that, nothing at all happened by the time Rafa Benitez’ 20 January deadline has passed.
Then as if by magic…we have had three big angles put out by the Mike Ashley PR machine, the media slavishly repeating what they have been briefed on by the NUFC owner’s representatives.
These three tales that have been put out in the media in the past few days/week are:
‘Newcastle United will beat their transfer record in January.’
‘Rafa Benitez is set to agree a new extended contract at Newcastle and talks have already started.’
‘Mike Ashley is backing Rafa Benitez with whatever transfer money it takes to stay up.’
These aren’t a coincidence, there is a concerted effort by Ashley to put out a message that he is doing everything he can now to do things right.
Do we/you believe it though?
Well, as with everything else Mike Ashley promises, both Rafa Benitez and the Newcastle fans have learnt to believe it when they see it.
Newcastle United to beat their transfer record?
The story was leaked to the press that Newcastle were going to pay £20m for a mystery striker, the name kept under wraps so other clubs didn’t swoop and interfere with NUFC’s coup.
It then transpires that rather than a £20m striker signing breaking Newcastle’s 13 year old transfer record at last, United had actually offered just £12m for Feyenoord’s Nicolai Jorgensen who THEY value at £20m. Easy to get these things confused….
Rafa Benitez to sign a new extended contract?
This all seemed very strange considering Newcastle are in the middle of a relegation battle and having been let down so often, including in this current transfer window, why would Rafa be rushing to tie himself to Mike Ashley for even longer?
Nevertheless, the media put Ashley’s story out, even claiming that talks had already started. The clear impression for me being of trying to make out that Rafa was interested in signing a new deal and that by insinuation, he is happy about how things are going behind the scenes at Newcastle United.
However, when this subject cropped up at a press conference, Rafa Benitez was quick to kill it, saying no talks had happened and the only thing he is concentrating on, is fighting relegation.
Mike Ashley backing Rafa Benitez with whatever transfer cash it takes to keep the club up?
The last two transfer windows Mike Ashley had totally undermined Rafa Benitez and not backed him.
In the current one, we are 25 days in and nobody has been bought by Newcastle.
No wonder that in December, Rafa said he needed all signings made ideally by 15 January and at the very latest by 20 January, basically calling out Ashley yet again – saying surely he had to back him this time.
Whilst the press have been happy to repeat this Ashley PR line in recent days, of ‘whatever cash it takes’, none of them have bothered explaining why anything has suddenly changed,
The first three weeks of January (and in December) it was obvious Newcastle had to buy some better players, why would Mike Ashley belatedly agree now that any money could be spent?
In this time results have actually been far better than anybody could have expected, leaving aside the two Manchester City matches, Newcastle in their last four games have beaten two other relegation strugglers and drawn against the other two.
Newcastle may be only one point above the relegation zone now, but compared to before we played West Ham on 23 December (after picking up only one point from the last 27), this is a pretty decent position considering.
Newcastle back then were screaming out for players to be bought and now it is really desperate – but not as bad as back then.
Can you honestly see any player being bought in by next Wednesday night before the window closes?
If I’m honest, I reckon there is more chance of Newcastle/Mike Ashley making a profit in this January transfer window, as there is of breaking the 13 year old Michael Owen transfer record.
As for Rafa Benitez agreeing to tie himself down to Mike Ashley for longer, that is surely an even bigger laugh.
Rafa is just about holding the club together single-handedly and Mike Ashley is abusing that, taking for granted that the manager isn’t going to call enough is enough and walk away, which no Newcastle fan would blame him for doing.
I can guarantee you that when we reach February, the NUFC transfer record will still be intact, Rafa will not have agreed to extend his contract, and the manager will not have been backed with whatever transfer funds were necessary to aver relegation.
Only when Mike Ashley has gone, is there any possibility of Newcastle United not being a joke club anymore.