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Opinion

David Pleat comments sum up just what we’re up against with Mike Ashley and the media

8 months ago
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David Pleat was covering the West Ham v Newcastle game on Saturday.

The former Tottenham boss working for BBC Radio Five Live.

I couldn’t really disagree with much he said about the match (see below).

West Ham were the better team and deserved to win, although if Newcastle had found a goal from amongst their 17 shots, it could have potentially got interesting.

Maybe the one match-related issue I would disagree with, is when David Pleat said he thought Martin Dubravka could have done better with the first goal. To me, it was all down to Fabian Schar completing losing his man and allowing Declan Rice a free header.

However, I did take real issue with something else David Pleat said.

Pleat said something about Rafa Benitez having disrespected Mike Ashley at times and summed up how he saw the situation at St James Park as being: “When Mike Ashley arrived Newcastle United were heavily in debt, now they’re mid-table and with their pride back.”

Any pride is simply down to Rafa Benitez and his ability to fashion a team capable of surviving, despite no net investment in the squad since arriving three years ago.

Minimal money spent on the team when promoted in summer 2017, no players bought in January 2018, a £20m+ profit made on deals in summer 2018, before finally the manager allowed one significant signing, with Miguel Almiron signed for £16m – a figure which could rise to £21m if Newcastle stay up this season and other targets are met.

Even that signing wasn’t concluded until the very last day of January,once again Mike Ashley taking things to the very brink and risking relegation.

David Pleat talks of Newcastle being ‘heavily in debt’ when Mike Ashley arrived. Ashley chose to turn much of what he paid for the club into a debt owed by NUFC to himself and then has increased that ‘debt’ owed to him when he got the club relegated twice. Newcastle United ending up in bigger debt now, to Mike Ashley, thanks to…Mike Ashley.

Indeed, Mike Ashley chose in summer 2018 to not allow Rafa to buy the players he wanted and instead then chose to take an unspecified amount of millions out of the club for himself in payment of some of the ‘debt’ he has foisted onto the club.

Mike Ashley knows he won’t convince/trick the vast majority of Newcastle fans these days BUT his PR strategy is all about targeting neutrals and willing fools and stooges in the media.

David Pleat covering West Ham 2 Newcastle 0 for BBC Radio Five Live:

Pre-match:

“Sean Longstaff is just emerging for Newcastle and it will be fascinating to see how he compares with Declan Rice who has really been the jewel in the West Ham crown this season.”

First goal:

“Very clean, precise header, good movement from the West Ham players in the box, but Dubravka might have done better.”

Second goal:

“Lejeune caught Hernandez’s right ankle, it was a lunge. Very careless and a silly mistake for Newcastle but a humdinger of a shot from Noble.”

Half-time:

“It’s a competent display from the home side, they have been more progressive particularly down the right.

“It has been an open game, Newcastle at the moment are unable to fashion chances and the silly penalty mistake from Newcastle could be the different at the end.”

After the break:

“West Ham at the moment are more confident and composed to go backward or square with their passes and play around Newcastle without pressure. They are in the driving seat.

“Newcastle attacking, trying to play the ball through the eye of a needle, West Ham break and create a chance about three seconds later.”

After the final whistle:

“Manuel Lanzini announced as man of the match, certainly had a good game in the midfield. He was never tightly marked by any one in particular in Newcastle colours.

“I thought Declan Rice was very good in the first half. It was a team effort. They have been a bit more purposeful and certainly more dangerous when they got to the final third of the pitch.”

Stats from BBC Sport:

West Ham 2 Newcastle 0

Goals:

Rice 7, Noble 42 pen

Possession was West Ham 56% Newcastle 44%

Total shots were West Ham 10 Newcastle 17

Shots on target were West Ham 4 Newcastle 2

Corners were West Ham 1 Newcastle 6

Referee: Chris Kavanagh

Newcastle United:

Dubravka, Manquillo, Schar (Dummett 65), Lascelles, Lejeune, Ritchie,  Hayden (Atsu 79), Longstaff (Diame 45), Almiron, Perez, Rondon

Unused Subs:

Darlow, Ki, Yedlin, Muto

(Alan Shearer verdict on the defeat HERE)

(Match ratings of all NUFC players HERE)

(Instant NUFC fan/write response to the defeat at West Ham – Read HERE)

(Sean Longstaff leaves London Stadium on crutches – Read HERE)

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