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This is just embarrassing from Karren Brady on Mike Ashley and Rafa Benitez

3 years ago

Karren Brady has regularly commented on the situation at Newcastle United.

The West Ham vice-chair especially keen to discuss Mike Ashley’s ownership.

Now she has had another go.

What Karren Brady had written about Mike Ashley and Rafa Benitez has been billed as an ‘exclusive’ BUT the only exclusive bit, appears to be that nobody else would come up with such nonsense.

In the past (see below) she has often criticised what Mike Ashley has done at Newcastle and indeed lectured him, saying that owning a club such as Newcastle United ‘…is a responsibility to the community, fans and the game itself.’

Karren Brady tries to make out that the issues between Mike Ashley and Rafa Benitez are a six of one and half a dozen of another, as in there are faults/arguments on both sides.

However, we have the ‘benefit’ of 12 years of Mike Ashley ownership, not just the three years with Rafa, so Karren Brady going with a ‘Rafa Benitez is an awkward manager to deal with’ line is laughable.

She questions…

‘Is Benitez up to his usual brinkmanship with proprietors?

In the one corner Benitez will use every media hit he can and, goodness knows, he punches his weight.’

And declares: ‘…in appointing Benitez he gave himself a chance — as well as a pain in the neck.’

Karren Brady points to Rafa Benitez’ recent comments about needing to spend up to £75m to give Newcastle the right strengths in the attacking half of the pitch. Surely with her professional insight inside another Premier League club, she can point to the £100m the Hammers allowed Pellegrini to spend last summer as evidence of how a club has to compete.

As for Mike Ashley, Karren Brady declares he ‘…has a stomach for deals that enhance his company. He is a brilliant deal maker.’ Maybe not the best timing as amongst other poor decisions, the one that saw Sports Direct invest £150m in Debenhams is something their (SD’s) shareholders will find very difficult to ‘stomach’…

The thing with Mike Ashley is that he is out of step with all of the other clubs, there has been pretty much zero net spend since Rafa Benitez arrived over three years ago, with Mike Ashley refusing to allow Newcastle to compete with, amongst many others, Bournemouth, Fulham, Huddersfield, Brighton, Bournemouth and indeed, West Ham.

Karren Brady with an ‘Exclusive’ in The Sun – 12 April 20019:

‘As surely as April brings blossom to the trees, so Rafa Benitez and Mike Ashley enter into another blooming row.

Arguments between Newcastle’s owner and his Spanish manager are as blistering as any over Brexit but don’t generally split the fans.

They are well and truly on Benitez’s side although they must be just as tired of perennial mothers of a row at St James’ Park as any at the mother of Parliaments.

Will this manager or the next be able to buy and sell on the basis of the £75million Benitez believes is needed to prevent Newcastle enduring a third consecutive rearguard battle against relegation?

Is Benitez up to his usual brinkmanship with proprietors?

One thing is sure, he will be shadow boxing financially with Ashley for the remaining four weeks of the season, at which point his contract comes to an end.

In the one corner Benitez will use every media hit he can and, goodness knows, he punches his weight.

Ashley will remain as silent and dangerous as Joe Frazier used to be before a Muhammad Ali fight.

Sports Direct chief Ashley is the product of a modest Bucks background, an impressive entrepreneur, single-minded and ruthless.

I suspect paying footballers £75,000-a-week does not come easily to the man who left school at 16.

He might seem to have all the charm and belly of a building site foreman but, boy, he also has a stomach for deals that enhance his company. He is a brilliant deal maker.

A dozen years ago he saw Newcastle — with their 50,000 gates and great history — as a natural for a refit and profit. It hasn’t exactly worked but there’s no way he is going to undersell his club.

My belief is that when Ashley bought the club he didn’t understand the philosophy of football and a football club well enough.

I suspect he still doesn’t but in appointing Benitez he gave himself a chance — as well as a pain in the neck.’

Karren Brady speaking to the Sun – 28 October 2017: 

“Rafa Benitez went to St James Park understanding far more clearly than his employer that the Toon are a tiger waiting to be unleashed.

Mike Ashley the gambler was initially tempted by the huge potential of the club.

“But Ashley the businessman admits he has not been able to work out how to operate the intricate internal machinery that makes one up.

“Rafa’s management skills are responsible for Ashley’s windfall and he now has a fair chance of transforming Newcastle into one of the few clubs with the support and profile to challenge the very best.

“A guaranteed 52,000 home crowd will be a warming prospect to potential buyers with sound ideas and an even sounder wallet….only billionaires need apply.”

Karren Brady talking to The Sun – 12 May 2017:

“Championship champions Newcastle are lucky to have Rafa Benitez as manager and the 57-year-old is lucky to have Newcastle with their huge and deeply loyal following.

“I sense Benitez is happy at a club with a similar working-class character to Liverpool where he is still regarded with much affection, not least for winning the Champions League.

“In Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley, he has the west (ED: ‘vast’?) financial means to give the Premier League a real go next year.

“Mike talked about ‘making your own luck’ but in football you also need a good manager and great players.

“He has at least one of these ingredients. And in my experience the rest follows – as long as you have a big cheque book, which Mike certainly has.”

Karren Brady – April 2015:

“David Gold says that there’s no chance of he and co-owner David Sullivan selling West Ham.

“How different from Mike Ashley, who appears to be going through the motions like a marriage with Newcastle, that both bores and irritates him.

“Owning a club is a business but, more than that, it is a responsibility to the community, fans and the game itself.

“Only Mike Ashley knows how many of those tests he thinks he passes.”


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