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Opinion

You really have to give Mike Ashley credit at Newcastle United

11 months ago
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No seriously, you do.

This Mike Ashley attempt at running Newcastle United in an efficient and profitable manner rails against everything the Premier League actually stands for and markets itself as.

The Premier League and it’s TV paymasters give each club a certain figure every year for its performance in the division, with the bottom club receiving around £100m at last count and each subsequent place in the league bumping up the revenue further depending on how ambitious it is during transfer windows.

Now I was privy to an interesting debate on Talksport on Tuesday night, where the presenter Andy Goldstein and his sidekick in the studio, Jason Cundy, were arguing the toss over the bottom ten clubs’ merits for being in the Premier League.

Cardiff copped an unfortunate amount of criticism for being a Championship team competing in the Premier League with Cundy actually saying they don’t actually deserve to be there (harsh) and that they’ve made no effort or attempt to stay in the league. The insinuation that owner Vincent Tan is quite happy to pocket the £100m+ and then disappear back down to the Championship and receive parachute payments and give promotion another go the following season.

That brings me nicely onto Newcastle United.

If Cardiff have abandoned all attempts to stay on the Premier league gravy train, then surely that is also what Newcastle United’s owner Mike Ashley has done. Ashley has made no effort to have a crack at this league because he simply doesn’t need to. £100m+ came his way last season BEFORE profit was made in the transfer window and BEFORE any parachute payments are received in the event that we are relegated. It’s simply a win/win.

The summer transfer window has once again seen the owner take a gamble. He has spent money and bought players, but the big draw is obvious, it’s Rafa Benitez. Ashley values Benitez, no really, he does. He values Benitez on a £6m contract, as it is cheaper than spending say £60m net on players. Imagine if you could pay a world class manager £6m and guarantee Premier League survival every year on minimal or no spend, or in our case, even making a profit?

To steal a quote from Blackadder Goes Forth- “There was only one slight flaw with the plan…”

It was bollocks!

In Mike Ashley’s head the plan is simple. He’s probably admitted he has made mistakes in the past. He’s employed the likes of Alan Pardew and Steve McClaren, who needed fortunes to spend to try and mask their blatant failings as managers.

So he probably thanked his lucky stars when a world-class manager waltzed into NE1 and said he was willing to take the job. Even at £6m (which Pardew and McClaren would only dream of) would be a snip, if Ashley didn’t have to spend fortunes on recruitment of players.

An article appeared on The Mag yesterday highlighting the money Ashley has thrown at managers in the last decade and it was staggering that the most money went to the most incompetent of managers.

Kevin Keegan and Rafa Benitez getting very little/nothing when they were clearly head and shoulders above the rest in terms of man management and recruitment of players. Put simply, if Ashley had given Kevin Keegan back in 2008, the same budget that McClaren had got, I’m sure the course of the following years would have been different.

Then what if Ashley had sanctioned a similar spend for Rafa?

You get the picture. You pay peanuts, you get monkeys, just look at what we pay our Managing Director.

This club needs a massive spend to bring it up to 2018 standards and IF we manage to stay up in 2019 that will be another chance to do so. In the short-term, by hook or by crook, we need to navigate the next six games and then go on and hope we are in a decent position by xmas, as the required spend won’t happen in January and we’ve shown our hand with regards to loan signings already. If we need players in January, forget it. Clubs will know how desperate we are and Ashley won’t sanction such an extravagant spend to avert disaster.

Still, he could always console himself that another £100m+ has been banked, plus the £20m+ transfer profit and then use the parachute payments to hopefully rectify the relegation. He’s been there before and been quite successful/lucky at it. He has his trophy manager that he is no doubt desperate to keep to avoid actually spending the required money in the right areas.

While we’re on the subject of money, Sky Sports can provide a few charts to highlight the spending patterns of Premier League clubs and it doesn’t look great for us Newcastle fans.

mike ashley

Make from them what you will, but much like the Premier League, we’re at the wrong end of each of those tables. Very seldom can a club make profits in the transfer market and hope to do well on the pitch. Mike Ashley doesn’t seem to grasp this and all the meals out and laughable promises of trips away aren’t going to change that. Cold hard cash is the only thing that will sort this club out, which isn’t going to happen.

Scarily, for the first time in the whole time that Ashley has owned the club, he has everything in place to make a go of it at Newcastle United. A world class manager that the fans get behind, a stadium with 52,000 people every week (granted it could do with a spruce up), a decent training ground that with a few improvements would be considered world-class, a workmanlike team and great captain that try for their manager and pots of cash flooding into the club for doing average at best. Yet he still seems to want to put the spanner in the works.

Everything is going for this club, yet the owner puts up ticket prices  and holds back on much-needed squad recruitment. Only an idiot or a deliberate saboteur could knack this club up at present. You decide!

Mike Ashley has what he hopes will be his saviour, at least for this season. Forget the Academy, forget the stadium, forget the team. In Rafa, Ashley trusts. If only he would give him the bloody tools to do his job properly.
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