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Tyne Talk

Michael Owen latest clueless Newcastle United claims accidentally point to real massive issues

2 months ago
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I actually don’t think Michael Owen is being malicious or antagonistic when he is talking about Newcastle United.

I don’t believe it is a case of deliberately provoking Newcastle fans as some kind of payback for the stick he has taken from them due to his lack of commitment when he was ‘playing’ for NUFC.

I don’t even think there is any massive dislike for Rafa Benitez, apart from maybe some small resentment with the then Liverpool boss having no interest in taking him back to Anfield in 2005. Michael Owen ending up with a four year stay at Newcastle United instead, as he looked for a swift return to the Premier League when signing for Real Madrid didn’t work out.

Instead, I think it is more a case of laziness, arrogance and not being very bright. Michael Owen coming from the Paul Merson school of punditry, where you arrogantly/lazily think that doing any research before TV appearances is beneath you, that you are so good and switched on that you can talk off the top of your head when employed as an ‘expert’ by the likes of BT Sport.

It is quite clear that horseracing is his true love and that football punditry is simply a way of making very easy money, without having to put any real effort/work into it.

Which brings us to Newcastle United.

Michael Owen is probably pretty switched on when speaking about the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool. After all, the are always at the forefront of the football news, every little thing analysed and on Sky Sports/BT Sport every day. Also, whilst they may be ran in different ways, they are football clubs that are all run at a certain level, with masses of high level staff on both the football side and business side.

That isn’t Newcastle United though.

Which brings us to Michael Owen and his latest piece of NUFC stupidity.

Owen claims that the big problem with Rafa Benitez at Newcastle United is that he is being unreasonable, in that he (according to Michael Owen) is insisting on a level of control on transfers that is unrealistic in the modern day.

Michael Owen stating: ‘I just think you have to conform to what everybody, even at the top clubs, the Liverpools, the Manchester Uniteds, the Manchester Cities…everybody has got the structure in place. But obviously Rafa just wants to, well I guess, and I think, wants to scrap that and have full control.’

I think Michael Owen would have a fair point, if that is, Newcastle United did indeed have any kind of a ‘structure’ in place that remotely resembled any other decent level football club, never mind Liverpool and Manchester City!

Newcastle United have no Director of Football.

Newcastle United have only one person on their official board of directors – Lee Charnley.

Newcastle United have only one named executive working at the club – Lee Charnley.

Mike Ashley thinks he can get away with running NUFC in a totally different way to any other Premier League club. A very small skeleton staff in any kind of even relatively senior positions, with no big set-up in support of Rafa Benitez on the football side and certainly no recognisable high level business side team trying to drive commercial deals and so on.

The biggest joke of all, is that for both media and fans, it has long been recognised that Lee Charnley isn’t even Mike Ashley’s main man at St James Park. Instead, one of his longstanding inner circle, Justin Barnes is accepted as being the most influential person Ashley relies on with regard to his Newcastle United dealings.

Inadvertently Michael Owen does accidentally point to how ridiculous the set-up at St James Park is: ‘What other business, on this planet, has something that totally relies on one person to do everything?’

Owen is referring to Rafa Benitez but that perfectly sums up what we are supposed to believe about Lee Charnley. That his presence at Newcastle United is supposed to be a match for whole legions of high level staff at other clubs, not just those at the likes of the top six, but also the likes of Leicester, Everton and many many others.

It is ironic that in actual fact handing over much more power to a top experienced manager such as Rafa Benitez, would perfectly fit the Mike Ashley model in many ways. No need to appoint loads of other staff and just let Rafa get on with it, especially when it is somebody who knows what he is doing.

However, Ashley wants to have his cake and eat it. He wants to run the club with a skeleton staff of higher level management BUT doesn’t want to give them the power, something which clearly appears to be relevant to the position of his Managing Director as well as the manager on the football side of things.

Instead, the owner wants a puppet manager who has zero say on transfers, never mind total control.

Michael Owen says about clubs now, including supposedly Newcastle; ‘There’s committees, transfer committees, there’s lots of different hoops you have got to jump through before a player can get signed off.’

There isn’t though at Newcastle United.

If Rafa Benitez doesn’t have the final say on transfers then who does?

With the puppet manager model, we are once again left with a hidden process where nobody has a clue as to how decisions are made.

In these three years where Rafa Benitez has been largely thwarted in getting on with what he knows needs to be done, who has been doing the thwarting?

I’m guessing you would have to assume some kind of combination of Mike Ashley himself for sure, plus any combination of the likes of Justin Barnes, Lee Charnley and almost certainly other anonymous figures, more than likely our old friend Dennis Wise having an input.

Despite the complete stupidity that runs through so much of Mike Ashley’s running of the club, if only he could see the sense in making a realistic budget available for both signing players and improving the infrastructure (Training ground, Academy etc), then just let Rafa Benitez get on with it.

Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger did wonders at their respective clubs when being made the central figures in everything that happened and Kevin Keegan took Newcastle United on a remarkable journey for the best part of five years.

Rafa Benitez wants to have a big long-term project that he can run with until he is at least 70, just what could he accomplish in these next 11 years at St James Park, if given the tools and freedom to get on with the job?

Michael Owen talking to BT Sport:

“I don’t think it is necessarily about how much he (Rafa Benitez) get (to spend on signings).

“I think it is more a case of the power that he has and the overall control of the transfers.

“That is what I am led to believe.

“Now, that doesn’t really…that isn’t what normally happens at clubs anymore.

“It is what used to happen but it’s not what happens anymore.

“There’s committees, transfer committees, there’s lots of different hoops you have got to jump through before a player can get signed off.

“And Rafa doesn’t like jumping through hoops.”

Jake Humphrey:

“So you either have Rafa as he likes to work, or maybe you don’t have him?”

Michael Owen:

“Or you find a compromise.”

Owen Hargreaves:

“Rafa gets the job done, doesn’t he.

“That’s a fact.

“I mean, to stay up with this team…and the way they are playing. Last season they finished 10th, this season they probably could finish 12th, or something like that.

“I think you have got to let the man make the decisions. They need to spend money, do you think Almiron was his (Benitez’) signing?”

Michael Owen:

“I think he (Rafa) had a large part to do with it…

“I just think that you have to be very very careful when you give the manager all of the power because a big club could come in and he leaves the next minute.

“And all of a sudden you have no structure. What other business, on this planet, has something that totally relies on one person to do everything? Manage the team, pick the players, buy the players, do the contracts, paint the white lines, put the nets up.

“I mean, you can’t do everything, managers used to.

“But I just think you have to conform to what everybody, even at the top clubs, the Liverpools, the Manchester Uniteds, the Manchester Cities…everybody has got the structure in place.

“But obviously Rafa just wants to, well I guess, and I think, wants to scrap that and have full control.”

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