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Opinion

A word now banished at Newcastle United

1 year ago
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Excitement. Now there is a word that’s alien to Newcastle fans these days. That ship sailed long ago.

Other clubs in the Premier League have had an exciting summer. Wolves, Fulham, West Ham and Bournemouth to name but a few, sides who have found money when NUFC have had to face turbo-charged austerity.

You see, investment brings optimism. It generates a feel good factor. It creates hope for a new season.

In our case, just like last summer, the buzz quickly died off once May turned to June. By July there was dismay and now there is pretty much widespread anger at Mike Ashley and his regime. They have let a huge opportunity slip by. All the fans know it and every sensible commentator covering the club knows it too.

An attempt was made by the regime to justify this cack-handed approach with that joint statement. They seem to keep telling themselves they’ve had a brilliant summer window. The supporters beg to differ. It has been average at best. The club’s manager is left to soldier on with his players against a backdrop of the people versus Mike Ashley.

The owner’s PR machine has now embarked on info wars. Furiously using its stooges to tell all them ‘Noocarsell’ fans that they should appreciate what has gone on under the flag of Sports Direct.

Would Dennis Wise be happy to see the Ashley approach foisted upon his beloved Chelsea? Sell to buy, with a few desperate loan deals to cut the corners?

A cabal of pro-Ashley spokesman who have no affinity or feel for Newcastle United are now trumpeting the owner’s low rent model. Regardless of what the likes of Keys and Gray say, the fans know that it’s punching way below it’s weight.

We’ve seen two eras where Newcastle Utd have been right up there and challenging. Kevin Keegan had them on song, then Bobby Robson brought it back for five more wonderful years. It didn’t take massive amounts. It was all done with solid levels of investment. Prior to Mr Ashley we were regulars in European football – that is an undisputed fact.

We all know Rafa could rekindle those halcyon days, but under the Ashley model, he’s expected to work with one hand tied behind his back. It cannot go on like this.

At the heart of the matter this summer was a lie that Rafa Benitez could have every penny generated by the club to spend on new players. He was right to be wary and back away from a new contract because the small print has told a different story.

The key strategy they’ve used to side step the spending is in the structure of the outgoing deals. One word: instalments.

While this approach, they would doubtlessly argue, yields the maximum value, it also delivers staggered payments. The transfer kitty isn’t then bolstered like we all immediately think when we see a headline saying ‘£22m deal for Mitrovic to Fulham’. That fee will be coming in tranches over the duration of his Fulham contract. Rafa doesn’t just get a cheque for £22m.

Allied to that is the issue of wages. We’re not competitive on pay in comparison to other Premier clubs.

Then we have the mystery that surrounds recruitment. They refuse to spend seriously on anyone over 26.

And they don’t seem to sanction payments for new players in instalments, when every other team does that in order to get the new faces that they want.

Throw in the club’s maddening ability to drag transfer deals out for weeks on end and it’s a borderline Mickey Mouse outfit.

Exciting? Not a bit of it. A season of slog lies ahead and who knows what will happen at the end. The only person to blame for this is Mike Ashley.

You can follow the author on Twitter @DavePunton
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