Steve Harmison has been reacting to the summer happenings at Newcastle United.
The Newcastle fan and former England fast bowler paying particular attention to the issues involving Mike Ashley, Rafa Benitez, and Newcastle fans.
As supporters, we are lucky to have the likes of Alan Shearer and Mick Quinn, plus a few others, to represent Newcastle United fans in the media, people who still have their finger on the pulse when it comes to exactly what is going on at St James Park.
Then you have Steve Harmison.
I have got no doubt he is a committed Newcastle fan, and like the rest of us he has every right to have his say on his club, but he is just clueless when it comes to exactly what the rise of the latest fan protests are all about.
In response to the #IfRafaGoesWeGo campaign, Steve Harmison declares ‘I support Newcastle United, I don’t support Rafa Benitez, I don’t support Mike Ashley.’
All of us of course support the club first and foremost but it is very naive, at best, to ignore the respective roles Benitez and Ashley are playing in the current ongoing issues facing the club. One wants to take the club forward, one wants nothing to change and add onto the 11 unambitious years we have already seen.
Harmison says ‘I support the black and white shirt, St James Park, cos I don’t think that will ever be removed, that iconic stadium’, yes it is iconic but it is also very ironic what the former England fan says, as it was Mike Ashley who removed ‘St James Park’ and renamed it after his sports shop, with not a single extra penny going into the club coffers.
Steve Harmison declares ‘Mike Ashley, he is what he is, it has been 10 years now. We haven’t spent the money, he hasn’t spent the money, we know what is going (on). But Rafa knew that when he came in.’ Mike Ashley has been a disaster for Newcastle United and the fans have had enough, he says Rafa knew what he was coming into but clearly he didn’t, as he has consistently said that the owner has broken the promises he made to the manager.
He says ‘Newcastle fans have got to get behind Newcastle United’, and that is exactly what we will do, those of us who haven’t already walked away (season ticket sales significantly down this summer).
Steve Harmison suggests Rafa Benitez should sign a contract extension as that could then help lead to Mike Ashley selling the club.
Rafa has said he would happily stay for 10 years or more if ambition was shown but quite rightly he isn’t going to be fooled again and tie himself to Mike Ashley unless he has commitments in writing, on transfer budget, revamping the ailing Academy set-up, and the new state of the art training complex that was promised five years ago.
As for Mike Ashley selling, he has absolutely no intention of doing this as the club is vital to promoting his retail empire for free, yes he supposedly put the club up for sale, bt even if you believe that – it was for at least £100m more than it is worth. Basically, no intention at all of selling up.
Bizarrely, Steve Harmison also suggests that if the fans go through with a boycott (#IfRafaGoesWeGo) it could lead to Newcastle collapsing like Sunderland.
Fans are making the pledge now to walk away if Rafa is forced out, exactly because they don’t want this to happen. They want the club to be run properly, Rafa Benitez properly supported, and ideally Mike Ashley to go. Ashley clearly has no intention of changing and has already relegated Newcastle twice in the last eight NUFC Premier League seasons, plus other near misses.
How on earth can Rafa Benitez commit to a new contract when he is once again being starved of transfer funds, no budget at all apart from some of the money raised by sales, yet again having to shop for bargains, whilst the likes of Huddersfield, Fulham, Wolves, Cardiff, and Brighton, all show ambition in the transfer market.
Steve Harmison speaking on Talksport:
“I support Newcastle United, I don’t support Rafa Benitez, I don’t support Mike Ashley.
“I support the black and white shirt, St James Park, cos I don’t think that will ever be removed, that iconic stadium, in the middle of town.
“I just can’t believe, I can’t believe some of the stuff.
“We had an MP, a member of parliament, standing up and abusing Mike Ashley, it was quite comical actually. The state this country is in at this minute, your biggest problem cannot be like that. You are trying to get some cheap laughs and some cheap votes from people in the north east.
“But it is Newcastle United, it is about the club, and I understand the frustrations, I really do.
“Mike Ashley, he is what he is, it has been 10 years now. We haven’t spent the money, he hasn’t spent the money, we know what is going (on).
“But Rafa knew that when he came in.
“Newcastle fans have got to get behind Newcastle United football club, the actual shirt, the black and white shirt.
“Because if you go to the first game of the season against Tottenham, we’ve got a hard start, and we start going ‘Mike Ashley…’ , what we normally do, then all of a sudden the pressure comes on, we don’t win a few games, and we lose Rafa. We have not got any assets for somebody to come in and buy the football club.
“If we have got Rafa, if you get him to sign a new contract, and Newcastle then get off to a half-decent start, then the money Mike Ashley wants for the football club, it is more of an attractive proposition.
“But if Rafa…and all this stuff, and I’m as passionate as much as anybody, but to say you are going to boycott and you are going to walk away…
“You look at what happened to Sunderland, and I’m not knocking Sunderland here, but an owner that wasn’t interested, didn’t put the money in, made bad decisions, all of a sudden they find themselves in League One, and it is a long long way back for somebody like Sunderland, which is an absolute crying shame for the area that we’re in.
“You support Newcastle United football club, you don’t support Mike Ashley, you don’t support Lee Charnley or Rafa Benitez, it is the black and white shirt you support.”