Hard headed financial reality or smoke and mirrors at Newcastle United?
That’s the question we’ve been wrestling with, ever since the release of the club’s annual statement of accounts.
This was followed up by the MD doing a big press interview with a number of journalists, to set his stall out.
The message was crystal clear. The club took a massive hit from relegation and it’s going to be a slow rebuild. It was, of course, a relegation that Mr Ashley created.
And now the scene has been well and truly set for the summer ahead.
Mike Ashley has parked his tanks on Rafa’s lawn. Info wars round one.
He’s basically sent a message to the Spaniard – don’t expect too much.
The lack of ambition is a firm undercurrent.
Under no circumstances are fans allowed to get too excited because the men at the top have to set expectations based around Ashley’s miserly approach.
We’re still no clearer on the issue of autonomy.
Can Benitez have his say on who comes in this time around, or will they move the goal posts again?
Does he know what the budget is?
Just what were the sticking points over his new deal and can that be ironed out?
It’s very hard to trust a word that comes out from the Ashley camp. That problem will never go away for as long as he owns the football club.
This is the problem Charnley has when he does come out and speak to the media. We can all see right through Mike Ashley and after years of implosions we’re not going to suddenly get along.
The coming weeks and months are going to be huge. A second season in the Premier League after promotion can often be harder. They will have to invest and it will need to done well, with transfers tied up swiftly, without any sagas that drag on for weeks on end.
It all has the classic Newcastle United on the edge of a cliff feeling about it.
Yet another summer of Mr Ashley’s ownership to look forward to. I can hardly wait.
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