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Opinion

OK, who had 45 minutes in the Mike Ashley sweep?

9 months ago
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No sooner had the dust settled on a magnificent 3-0 victory over the reigning Premier League Champions, did we get a (rousing?) speech/statement from our glorious owner Mike Ashley.

Once again 10/10 for timing, to puncture the euphoria generated by Rafa and the lads on the pitch, the owner decides to address the Geordie nation with his own congratulatory speech, no doubt engineered by his PR gurus.

All well and good, some may say. Normally such a speech should cause fans to go wild at such ambition and optimism for the future, even in these days of stupid money, so should the fans dare to enthuse at such a declaration of intent?

NO! Put simply, we’ve heard it all before Mr Ashley, numerous times. You can’t sit there in Stalag Luft Shirebrook and ignore the built up optimism and euphoria that has manifested itself in NE1 against Chelsea on Sunday.

Anyone that was present, could only have come away from the event TOTALLY mesmerised by the influence that one man has held over an institution. Not one of the 50,000+ inside St James’ was in any doubt that Rafa Benitez needs to be backed FULLY over the next few months.

Over the last decade this club has hardly ever done transfer windows well. From signing unknown players the manager doesn’t want, signing young players from overseas that are totally out of their depth in the English game, to signing nobody at all.

Opportunities have frequently been missed, no more so than the summer of 2012 when remarkably the club finished 5th, narrowly missing out on Champions League football, and only Vurnon Anita was brought in.

Back then, the gamble by Mike Ashley backfired and ended up costing him a fortune the following January when he was forced to spend to avoid a relegation and as a consequence, the following summer’s transfer budget was blown six months early. Oh for a bit of forward planning.

For all his faults (and there are many) Alan Pardew should have been backed when the club were doing well, instead of sitting back and doing nothing. Fast forwarding six or so years, it would be criminal for the same scenario to play itself out again and an impressive finish be squandered by not building on and adding to what Rafa has built up.

These players have done a brilliant job of eking out results and working their boll…. off for their manager, a far cry from the more talented sides that visibly downed tools under the previous regimes. It’s good to see players run through brick walls and give everything, this side making up for the lack of skill that more expensively assembled sides in the league possess. When you compare our side to Everton, the Merseyside outfit’s spend is way out in front of ours, yet there is only five points difference.

In Kevin Keegan’s autobiography, there is a Chapter called ‘Capturing The Cream’. As soon as Kevin dragged Newcastle up from Division One (Championship for the younger fans) he immediately began rooting out the players who were cracking professionals and workmanlike stalwarts of the side and started bringing in players of genuine quality and artistry. It’s easy to look at Arsenal of the early noughties and Man City of today and wonder at how good they were as football sides, but we were the forerunners of that brand of football. Even though we won nowt to back it up, the quality and entertainment was there and we certainly gave Man United a ‘run for their money’ as Sir John Hall once famously declared.

I get the impression that half of our current first team are the equivalent of squad men. I don’t mean that to sound harsh, but if you look at the likes of Dummett, Yedlin, Diame, Perez and Gayle it certainly seems, that our problem at the minute is we are over reliant on players that shouldn’t be relied on week in week out.

The summer recruitment should be centred on genuine quality coming in and pushing the first team regulars to either greater efforts, or out of the starting eleven and onto the bench, with the aim of pushing the current squad men out of the club to make way.

Actions speak louder than words Mr Ashley and with £120m+ banked from TV money alone for our magnificent 10th place finish, it’s not unreasonable to expect a decent backing for the one man who has overseen it all. If your latest words mean jack s… then you will surely be using the financial clout he has earned the club, to further enhance the team as per his wishes. Anything else would be grossly negligent and a continuation of the stagnation under Mike. This can’t be allowed to continue . .

PS – Many thanks to The Mag for offering a platform to the many different voices throughout the course of the season.

We all have varying opinions and differing ideas for the future of this madhouse we call ‘United’.

Let’s hope that the owner, who we can’t get rid of (despite what we would like to wish), will see sense and back quite possibly the greatest man I’ve ever seen walk into the club, and at least attempt to give the fans a team to be proud of and win something.

Forget the former, he’s already mastered that bit, the latter depends on the owner himself, for if Rafa has walked by August, then there has been a major cock up at St James’. DON’T let it happen . .

Enjoy the summer everyone and howay the lads!
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