Rafa Benitez slaughters Mike Ashley with new quotes
It is now exactly three weeks since Mike Ashley appeared on our screens.
The Newcastle United owner saying that a sale of the club was imminent and it was even possible we would see the back of him by the end of December.
Well, we have seen the back of him in a sense, but rather than selling the club he was sunning himself on holiday after jetting away earlier this week.
A bit like many a politician, Mike Ashley has conveniently walked away and left others to deal with the mess he has left behind.
With new owners it would be possible to start the long-term job of turning the club around, particularly the first team squad.
Instead we are once again left in no-man’s land under Mike Ashley, Rafa Benitez left with a relegation squad in terms of quality, due to window after window when the owner has refused to allow realistic investment.
Back in 2015 Newcastle had ended up in a similar position in terms of the owner repeatedly trying to do things on the cheap, leaving the squad in serious danger of relegation.
Ashley at last appearing to realise the danger after Newcastle only survived on the final day of the previous season (2-0 win over West Ham), allowing a net spend of over £50m in summer 2015. There were a few flaws in the plan though, the manager had no say in which players were bought, the ‘Head Coach’ that then was given these players to manage was the hapless Steve McClaren, whilst the emphasis yet again was on young players from weak foreign leagues who would come for lower wages (than those from Premier League clubs) and would hopefully increase in value to be sold on at a later date.
Relying on untried young foreign players (Mitro and Mbemba were both 20, Thauvin 22, Wijnaldum 24) proved disastrous and with relegation staring Newcastle in the face, Mike Ashley allowed another £30m net spend in January 2016 with the big surprise being, he allowed two Premier League ready signings in Shelvey and Townsend to come in with the bulk of the money. Shelvey immediately inspired Newcastle to home wins over West Ham and West Brom, whilst Townsend excelled in his three month stay, but it was too little too late – if Townsend and Shelvey and one or two other Premier League players had arrived in summer 2015, Newcastle surely wouldn’t have gone down.
Move forward three years and in Rafa Benitez’ near three years at the club there has been no net spend, instead around £20m-£25m profit (figures from Transfermarkt) made on transfers at Mike Ashley’s insistence since March 2016.
Which brings us to the latest Rafa Benitez quotes, which are damning for Mike Ashley.
The manager making clear what Ashley’s actions/inactions have produced, Rafa saying that the Fulham match was simply ‘confirmation’ of what he already knew.
The NUFC manager declaring ‘Even if we strengthen in January it will be a miracle if we stay up.’
That is what happens when you fail to strengthen window after window, the manager forced to bring in low standard ‘bargain’ players simply to ensure has a squad. Players that are clearly not good enough for what is required, especially in attacking positions.
It shows how far Mike Ashley has dragged down our expectations that paying £20m or so for Miguel Almiron in January would be seen as some kind of ‘miracle’…
Clubs such as Bournemouth, Fulham and most others see spending this kind of money in key positions as simply common sense if you are going to try and compete, or even survive.
Rafa isn’t scared of spelling it out, he needs better quality players to be signed in January just to give him a chance.
Yes Newcastle are five points clear of the relegation zone but he isn’t afraid to point out what lies ahead, the next eight games see five matches against ‘big six’ clubs plus away games at Wolves and Watford.
The manager surely indicating that even with help in the transfer window it will be another minor ‘miracle’ if NUFC aren’t in the bottom three with 12 games to go, after this run of eight upcoming fixtures starting at Liverpool on Boxing Day.
“A game like this (draw with Fulham) is confirmation of what I (already) know.
“Even if we strengthen in January it will be a miracle if we stay up.
“If we can be better than three teams it will be another miracle.
“For me it is very clear…I know what is coming now and I know where we are.
“You can see the team is trying a lot of things but still it is not enough to get the points.”
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