The perception of many/most Newcastle fans is that Mike Ashley has a close relationship with Sky Sports which leads to them failing to properly criticise the club owner, for the shocking way he runs the club and especially the failure to back Rafa Benitez.
With Mike Ashley allowed an unchallenged platform by Sky Sports when giving interviews, it is difficult to see how the broadcaster has a leg to stand on.
Then when the Kevin Keegan quote flags were unveiled at the Burnley home match after yet another joke of a transfer window, many Newcastle fans were quick to point out that Sky Sports were the only major media to fail to mention the anti-Ashley huge banner in their match report.
Whilst some individuals who work for Sky Sports have attempted to defend their employer and deny there is any special treatment/protection from negative exposure, we have seen little of substance to suggest otherwise.
However, one Sky Sports presenter, with no connection to Newcastle United, has now come out in support of Rafa Benitez and criticised the lack of backing from Mike Ashley for his manager.
In a column for West Midlands newspaper The Express and Star, Johnny Phillips says that a lack of investment in players ‘continually tests his [Rafa’s] patience at a club he has grown immensely fond of.’
Phillips states ‘Benitez has every right to feel aggrieved at the [January] transfer activity, especially as targets were identified months in advance of the deadline.’
The Sky Sports man adds that it will be a massive achievement if Rafa keeps Newcastle in the Premier League but nobody will be surprised if he then walks away, due to Ashley’s failure to back/support him.
Johnny Phillips ending with a statement that Newcastle fans repeatedly utter: ‘It is just a pity the club’s owners don’t seem to realise what an asset they have in the manager’s seat.’
Sky Sports presenter Johnny Phillips writing in his column for the Express and Star:
‘Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez masterminded another of those big game wins that have become a trademark during his outstanding coaching career.
Last Sunday’s win over Manchester United was a much-needed one for the Spaniard, who has dedicated his all to keeping Newcastle in the Premier League.
His time at Newcastle has been dogged by battles with the owners, but the fans worship the ground he walks on. Rightly so. Benitez stayed with the club during their season in The Championship, spurning opportunities elsewhere in favour of overseeing a return to the Premier League.
He is one of those managers who develops a real bond with supporters, and it was their affection for the manager that helped persuade him to stay on. Now he has a harder job keeping Newcastle in the top flight.
It was such underwhelming business (in January), it would have been little surprise had he thrown in the towel once the window closed.
Earlier this month I was able to spend some time in Benitez’s company at the club’s training ground. He spoke with passion and common sense and retained an admirable dignity despite the line of questioning offering him an opportunity to come out fighting at the failures from above.
Benitez has every right to feel aggrieved at the transfer activity, especially as targets were identified months in advance of the deadline. None of his first choice targets were captured. Yet there was no swipe at Mike Ashley, despite increasing hostility towards the owner from the fans.
The long-term growth of the team goes back to the issue of investment. Something that continually tests his patience at a club he has grown immensely fond of.
If Benitez does keep Newcastle in the Premier League it will be some achievement. Few would be surprised to see him walk at the end of the season. The supporters would be devastated.
They know that such an elite manager as Benitez is unlikely to walk through the training ground gates again. It is just a pity the club’s owners don’t seem to realise what an asset they have in the manager’s seat.’