Mike Ashley is now staring in the face a third relegation in the space of only nine Premier League seasons.
With only 16 matches remaining and three of the next four against Man City at home and Spurs & Wolves away, Newcastle United find themselves in the bottom three.
Rafa Benitez has a threadbare squad that has been further hit by international call-ups, injuries, a player stating he is desperate to leave, plus indifferent/poor form from some of those who played above themselves in the run to safety from late January to April last season.
Rafa Benitez, the Newcastle fans, the NUFC players, even most of the skeleton staff who still remain running the club on a day to day basis, all know for a fact what a disaster relegation would be…
However, does Mike Ashley share that sheer fear/stress of yet another relegation?
I really don’t think he does.
Mike Ashley sees things very simply and whilst he obviously would rather Newcastle United stayed up and continued to give him all the benefits he currently gets from NUFC being in the Premier League, he doesn’t see it as the disaster the rest of us do.
A bit like the burglar who keeps getting caught and sent to jail, he just sees relegation as an occupational hazard. See how long you can get away with running the club in such a disastrous way, before yet another relegation comes along.
He would rather not get caught/relegated but he looks at the previous times it has happened and thinks, well I didn’t have to serve much time in the Championship/prison, then I’m back out to carry on again.
Mike Ashley has been managing the club for another relegation, with ironically being handed on a plate the best possible manager capable of producing ‘miracles’ by potentially keeping Newcastle in the Premier League AND make a transfer profit!
The stuff of dreams for the NUFC owner.
Mike Ashley sees things so simple, he looks at the past two relegations and thinks it will be easy to come straight back up next season if relegation comes along again this time.
He doesn’t appreciate how lucky Newcastle were to have Chris Hughton and Rafa Benitez as managers the previous two times, he thinks if/when Rafa walks out he can just stick a Carver or Pardew back in and NUFC will automatically still go up.
In 2009 Hughton had some very good players who should never have been relegated, whilst in 2016 Ashley was in the perfect position of being able to allow Rafa Benitez £50m to entirely rebuild the team/squad AND make a £40m profit on transfers in and out.
People say about that £50m Rafa had to spend as though it made promotion a certainty. If it was a case of spending £50m on extra players then yes BUT Benitez had to rebuild the entire squad pretty much with that money, as Wijnaldum, Sissoko, Coloccini, Townsend, Cisse, Saivet, Thauvin, Cabella, Marveaux, Doumbia, Obertan, Cisse, de Jong, Krul, Taylor, Janmaat, Riviere all went out that summer, either permanently or on loan.
That promotion team that Rafa Benitez built is now being asked to try and keep Newcastle in the Premier League, eight of the eleven starting against Man Utd 12 days ago, played in the Championship season.
Mike Ashley sees zero value/point in allowing Rafa Benitez to spend £50m (or anything close to that!) to try and keep Newcastle in the top tier, instead he will happily sit back and just keep that money for a promotion. He thinks it would automatically produce another instant return but it would be no sure thing, especially as no doubt he would sell off a few such as Shelvey, Lascelles and Dubravka, possibly even then covering the £50m he would make available to spend!
The Global Sports Salaries Survey published recently by Sporting Intelligence, revealed Newcastle have the fourth lowest wage bill in the Premier League.
Mike Ashley sees minimal risk with relegation as he has starved the club of transfer fees and wages for the players needed in the top tier.
Kenedy and Rondon are only on loan, so if he sells off Shelvey, Lascelles and one or two others in the event of relegation, the wage bill will not be any kind of an issue.
When getting instant promotion under Rafa Benitez, Mike Ashley only had to loan the club £15m in that 2016/17 season, this time he might not need to put a penny in.
Whether that would still mean a third instant promotion back to the Premier League could be quite another matter though.