One thing you can’t accuse Mike Ashley of, is doing many/any favours for Newcastle fans.
Of course, when the self-made English billionaire swept into Toon back in 2007, most of us did think it was the start of something really good.
Not a fortune, but a half-decent amount, spent on transfer fees in his first window but Mike Ashley did back Sam Allardyce in terms of big contracts for players from other Premier League clubs, as well as from abroad.
When he gave Fat Sam the boot only some seven or eight months into his tenure and promised Kevin Keegan he had his full support, and the manager had the final say on transfers in and out, it appeared we were on the verge of something special.
Ten years on and we are all older and wiser, at least most of us are, indeed surely everyone now is….?
For that, we have Mike Ashley to thank.
I can understand those who despite year after year of Ashley’s cynical non-ambitious running of Newcastle United, have continued to try and find positive angles. There is nothing stronger than those who want to believe and indeed this is supposed to be all about an escape from our stress filled normal lives, so why not think that enforced cheap budget signings could actually be just astute buys who could surprise everybody.
However, Mike Ashley has surely now removed all doubt with this summer’s shenanigans.
Whilst most of us recognised last season’s approach to the transfer window as a disgrace, not able to even compete with Brighton and Huddersfield on transfer fees or wages, there was still some semblance of some promise (for some fans) in the signings that were made.
Florian Lejeune coming from La Liga, Manquiilo signed from Athletico Madrid and he’d already played for Liverpool in the Premier League, Atsu could improve after at last getting regular football, Murphy could be the next big thing, Merino coming in from the Bundesliga, whilst Joselu might be a £5m Stoke reserve who had never ever scored double figures in a league season but just maybe…
Even the January 2018 window, despite Rafa’s being blocked from buying any players by Mike Ashley, still could have some spin put on it with the loan signings.
Slimani and Kenedy from Premier League clubs, although Dubravka was a little puzzling, a 29 year old keeper on loan from a Czech Republic club who had never played in a major league.
As it happens, Slimani was a waste of time but the other two were big loan successes and key to our successful relegation battle.
Despite Dubravka and Kenedy being once again set to play this coming season, this current transfer window has been a complete joke, both for the current hopes and aspirations, as well as the longer-term ones.
To be sitting with a transfer profit of around £12m with 16 days to go until transfer deadline day, is quite unbelievable, especially when the manager has made clear he is desperate to strengthen the squad but has been left with no funds by Mike Ashley, apart from cash raised by selling players.
Mike Ashley has surely united all fans this time, there surely can be no room for doubt this summer, the owner refusing to give the manager a transfer budget.
Early June saw claims in the media that Ashley was refusing to allow Benitez any transfer funds unless the manager signed a transfer extension first. This had to be nonsense, didn’t it?
Subsequent events and Rafa’s words though, have confirmed this to be the case.
Instead of breaking the 13 year old transfer record and showing at least the minimum of ambition, Mike Ashley has simply stuck two fingers up to the manager, current squad of players, and the fans.
All three newly promoted clubs are spending money, whilst Rafa and Newcastle are forced to dig in and prepare for another inevitable relegation battle. Brighton and Huddersfield are continuing to invest, there can’t be any Newcastle fan now who can’t see this is a disaster under Mike Ashley.
It isn’t about not being able to strengthen the squad, it is Mike Ashley choosing that to be the case.
Not beating that 13 year old transfer record is bad enough but Newcastle United are actually trading down.
Merino sold for £1om and his replacement is a free transfer, normal clubs would use that money and add £XX to then look to buy better.
Same with Chancel Mbemba heading out for £6m, Rafa seemingly forced to be looking at the budget/free end of the market for a replacement.
Even the long-awaited Aleksandar Mitrovic departure, likely to leave for £20m and Rafa to have less than that to spend on his replacement. Crazy.
When you add totally unjustified season ticket price rises (Newcastle one of the most expensive to watch outside the ‘big six’) and the most expensive replica shirts in the Premier League, what more could you need to tell you Mike Ashley is poison?
So thank you Mike Ashley, you are surely the best possible recruiter for the #IfRafGoesWeGo movement, for at least that we have to be thankful.
At last all Newcastle fans united against the common enemy.