I think we have all learnt by now, not to believe a single thing Mike Ashley tells us.
Whether it is a new state of the art training complex which was promised six years ago, the sale of the club which was promised 11 years ago, or backing to spend in each transfer window – windows which repeatedly end with Rafa Benitez saying there have been yet more broken promises from the NUFC owner.
Whilst we surely aren’t surprised by now at the way Mike Ashley operates it is always good to get some new/extra information on the workings of his mind when it comes to Newcastle United.
Cast your mind back to the embarrassing Sky Sports ‘interview’ with David Craig back in August 2017 (see below), Mike Ashley stating that Rafa Bentez would get ‘Every penny the club generates’ to spend in the transfer market.
Further to that, Ashley added: ‘Just so we are crystal clear, Rafa makes all the final decisions on players out and players in, but he has to do it with the money the club has.’
This is of course nonsense and window after window, Rafa Benitez has stated that the amount of money is only one part of the problem and that not being allowed the freedom to spend it as he sees fit, is at least as problematic for him.
With the January 2019 transfer window now up and running and clubs such as West Ham and Chelsea already having agreed signings, Mark Douglas from The Chronicle has been addressing fan concerns about the issue.
Douglas stating: ‘It is not about budget, it is about the player. Propose the right player and they take it to Ashley to get green light. So a player worth £10m may be OK if fits profile while a player worth £8m may not. Rafa’s fundamental disagreement with this is why Newcastle United have hit logjam in last two windows.’
Despite not having spent £10m on a player last summer, the club at the next NUFC official fans forum meeting actually claimed they had bid for a number of players who would have broken the 14 year old £16.8m transfer record. Something which Newcastle fans simply laughed at.
Rafa Benitez wasn’t even allowed to buy Salomon Rondon. The manager forced to accept a loan arrangement which then meant he wasn’t able to keep Dwight Gayle, something which Rafa said he’d wanted to, instead West Brom insisting that if Newcastle were not buying Rondon then they wanted Gayle on loan in return.
Much was made of a £16m selling clause for Rondon but I think in reality West Brom would have sold for £10m or so if Mike Ashley had allowed such a bid. Nobody else was interested in paying that release clause and at the time the striker was set to turn 29 in September (2018) and only had a year left on his contract – bottom line being he could have held out and left for nothing this summer (2019).
As it stands, they added a year onto Rondon’s contract, so when we get to the end of this season you will have a striker set to turn 30 in September (2019) with only a year left on his contract. The number nine is doing ok for Newcastle but he isn’t suddenly a prolific goalscorer (five PL goals so far with less than half a season left) and exactly what value will he have this summer?
For Mike Ashley it all comes down to wages and resale value for me.
For instance, I could easily see Mike Ashley blocking Rafa buying Rondon for £10m this month BUT allowing say Miguel Almiron to be bought for £15m (even though Atlanta say the bidding starts at £24m!), along the lines Mark Douglas is suggesting.
Salomon Rondon will be on decent sized Premier League wages around the same as top earner Jonjo Shelvey who is reportedly on around £80,000 a week, which Newcastle would at least have to match. Whilst buying somebody who will be 30 in September means any resale value is minimal.
As for Miguel Almiron, he is reported to be on £30,000 a week in the MLS and even if they double his wages, Newcastle would still be committing to far less than say for Rondon. Plus, at 24 Miguel Almiron clearly has a big resale victory, especially if showing he can do it in Premier League.
Realistically though, whatever the transfer targets end up being, Rafa Benitez has to be given a decent budget and then total freedom on how he uses it.
If Newcastle are going to get better quality then you have to accept that older players are going to play a part in that. Only Lejeune picking up that serious injury meant Rafa Benitez could persuade Mike Ashley to allow £6m to be spent on Federico Fernandez, the centre-back has been Newcastle’s best outfield play but will be on good Premier League level wages and turns 30 in February, plus he was signed on only a two year contract, so basically can leave for nothing in 18 months time and would have zero resale value if so.
As it stands, Newcastle United is a total joke and the biggest joke of all is that Mike Ashley was lucky enough to have a top manager such as Rafa Benitez actually ask about the job after McClaren was sacked, yet he won’t even allow this multi-trophy winning manager to sign the players he wants to.
Mike Ashley asked on Sky Sports how much money is available for Rafa Beitez to spend – 13 August 2017:
“It is very simple, it’s not enough, and Rafa knows that. It is not enough, it is not a secret.
“Every penny the club generates, he can have, but it won’t generate enough.
“It’s Newcastle United, it doesn’t have a £40m a year stadium naming rights deal, it doesn’t, so I don’t want the fans to watch this interview and think, ‘That’s great, Rafa is getting £150m in the morning’ – he’s not.
“Rafa Benitez, with Lee Charnley’s help….and Lee Charnley answers to Rafa, not the other way round.
“Just so we are crystal clear, Rafa makes all the final decisions on players out and players in, but he has to do it with the money the club has.”
Mark Douglas – 2 January 2019 via Twitter:
“It was explained to me like this.
“It is not about budget, it is about the player.
“Propose the right player and they take it to Ashley to get green light.
“So a player worth £10m may be OK if fits profile while a player worth £8m may not.
“Rafa’s fundamental disagreement with this is why Newcastle United have hit logjam in last two windows.
“Club on record in Fans Forum saying there IS money to spend, of course.
“These are enduring issues at NUFC re: recruitment.
“Should manager have final say?
“My contention is when it’s Benitez: yes, yes & three times yes!”