Mike Ashley rolled into St James Park at the end of the 2006/07 season.
Sam Allardyce had just been installed as manager and Newcastle fans had been trying to look to the positives on that appointment.
An ambitious self-made English billionaire buying the club though, changed everything, Newcastle supporters dreaming of what could lie ahead…
That summer transfer window was much anticipated, with expectations very much raised as to what level of player Newcastle United would now be going for.
So 11 years ago today, on 7 June 2007, the first Mike Ashley signing was announced.
A free transfer!
Mark Viduka was out of contract at Middlesbrough and after two years with the smoggies, turned down Gareth Southgate’s attempt to get him to stay.
Scoring 59 goals in 130 games for Leeds United he was often a right handful, especially against Newcastle.
At Middlesbrough he did ok, scoring 26 goals in 72 appearances, which included 14 Premier League goals in his second and final season at Middlesbrough.
At the age of 32 Newcastle fans knew they weren’t getting a striker approaching his prime but they did think they would get more than what transpired.
Back in June 2007 it was claimed that as a lifelong fan of Aussie Rules outfit Collingwood Football Club, he had wanted to play for a team nicknamed ‘The Magpies’ and who played in black and white stripes.
Well, I think it had a little bit more to do with the fact that at the age of 32 he was given a two year contract on £100,000 a week.
Mike Ashley didn’t allow massive spending on transfers in that first summer 2007 window, with around £19m spent on the likes of Barton, Smith, Rozenhal, Enrique, Beye, Faye, whilst around the same figure was recouped on the likes of Parker, Luque, Dyer and Solano all leaving.
However, in stark contrast to the present day, Mike Ashley did allow massive wages for Sam Allardyce to speculate with.
We already had Michael Owen earning £110,000 a week, with Allardyce adding free agents Viduka and Geremi, both reported to be on £100,000. Brazilian Cacapa was another free agent brought in on big money, whilst Habib Beye had been Marseille’s captain and was on massive money, with both Smith and Barton reported to have been given five year contracts at £60,000 a week each. Bear in mind Newcastle’s top earner in 2018 is Jonjo Shelvey on £80,000 a week.
Remember, this is 11 years ago, and very likely that Sam Allardyce’s disastrous recruitment not only paved the way for relegation the following season, but also forever changed Mike Ashley, meaning he would never ever again trust a manager.
Mark Viduka scored seven goals in his first PL season at Newcastle but rarely looked that bothered, often injured and never looking properly fit.
The second and final season was a total nightmare, Viduka not getting a single goal and like so many of the mercenaries, couldn’t care a less as Newcastle were relegated, Alan Shearer unable to cure the poisonous nature of the dressing room in only eight games.
Mark Viduka, Michael Owen and others walked off without a backwards glance, and nine years later Newcastle fans are still stuck with Mike Ashley.
It is now 13 years since NUFC broke their transfer record with £16m for Owen and we wonder if/when we will ever see that broken under Mike Ashley, similarly, if/when we will see the owner allow Rafa Benitez to pay the kind of wages now that Mark Viduka ‘earned’ back in 2007?