Jamie Carragher has done a really long piece on Newcastle United.
Actually, most of it is very good, at least 95% of it…maybe 99%.
The only thing Jamie Carragher gets wrong is when he says Newcastle fans crave signing ‘top class players’ and to get rid of Mike Ashley.
Well of course every fan of every club craves signing ‘top class players’ but Jamie Carragher obviously means that many Newcastle fans realistically crave those type of signings.
Well, last summer I don’t think a single Newcastle plan was waiting for news of Mike Ashley allowing Rafa Benitez to spend money on ‘top class signings’.
What they hoped was that instead of holding a 13 year club transfer record (every other Premier League club has broken their transfer record in the last couple of ears, some of them multiple times), Newcastle would instead be at least competing for a couple of signings in that £16m+ up to £20m bracket, just like Southampton, West Brom, West Ham, Bournemouth..
Instead, Rafa was scratching around in the bargain bins, for example ending up with first choice striker Joselu, a £5m buy who was third or fourth choice at Stoke.
Jamie Carragher speaks a lot of sense and well worth reading the whole thing, these are just snippets below.
He says that regardless of anything else: ‘If Ashley stays, Rafa will have to go’.
I don’t think any rational Newcastle fan can argue with that viewpoint, indeed it is a miracle that he hasn’t gone already. He has been let down so many times and clearly the reality has proved to be nothing like ‘what it said in the brochure’.
Kevin Keegan successfully won his case for constructive dismissal when Mike Ashley undermined him, difficult to see how Ashley would have a leg to stand on if Rafa Benitez did the same.
Jamie Carragher speaking to The Telegraph:
‘Imagine trying to convince a top player to join Newcastle United. What would be the sales pitch?
Come and join us. The fans are depressed and constantly protesting against how the club is run; the manager has his hands tied in the transfer market and makes his frustration known every week; the owner wants to sell the club so does not want to spend any more money; the prospective owner keeps saying she wants to buy but does not seem to have the cash to do it (and we’re not really sure what she’ll do if she ever gets it); the squad is filled with Championship players; and you’ll spend the next six months fighting to keep us in the Premier League. If we get a few bad results, the manager might decide he has had enough and leave.
When Daniel Sturridge decided this was not an attractive brochure, heading nearer home to West Bromwich Albion instead, there were a few expressing their surprise.
“How could you turn down Newcastle for West Brom?” some asked.
The question should be what makes the current Newcastle set-up more appealing than West Brom?
They have a passionate support, a wonderful stadium and a world-renowned manager in Rafa Benitez.
But the best players look for more. They see the bigger picture – the vibe they get from a club.
There are three factors a player will consider before making his move – ambition, geography and finances.
Is it a club ready to win trophies or play in the Champions League? Can he see himself settling at the club and in the area? Will they pay more than clubs of a similar ilk?
Which of these boxes can Newcastle tick at the moment? What makes them more appealing than anyone else in the Premier League?
Without the owner they need there is no realistic chance to progress. Without a realistic chance of progression they will not get the kind of owner they need.
Every year you hear Newcastle fans desperately craving top class signings. Every year you hear of Newcastle fans desperately craving Mike Ashley to leave. But what they really need – what new signings and a change at the top will really represent – is something far more precious.
The cruellest endeavour he – or indeed any owner – can partake in is to drain the supporters’ hope. Hope is the lifeblood of a football club. It is hope that makes 52,000 supporters go to St James’ Park every week; it is hope that makes them support Benitez, seeing what he has achieved elsewhere and knowing what he can do with more financial support; it is hope that prompted supporters to unfurl the banner at the Burnley fixture on Wednesday evening, pleading with everyone inside that arena to never give up.
The majority on Tyneside simply want to believe in their club again; to be able to stop worrying about going down, and to see a regime that can give them a team worthy of the venue and the jersey. You expect to be disappointed when you see a team underperform from time to time, but there is only so much heartbeak and disenchantment you can take.
It would be easy for me to list Ashley’s multitude of errors since buying Newcastle – they have been well chronicled elsewhere.
I’m worried for them because I fear they will go down again. They have the best manager of those at the bottom, but a championship squad.
My hunch is Ashley and any potential Newcastle buyer are awaiting the value of the next TV deal before determining exactly how much the club is worth.
But even if they stay up I am sure Benitez will not want another season like this.
Benitez knew what he was signing up to when he agreed to work with Ashley, but he won’t tolerate this any longer.
If Ashley stays, Rafa will have to go.’