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I’d rather be in League 1 with no Mike Ashley and losing Rafa Benitez than Premier League with both

3 years ago

What would anger the vast majority of Newcastle fans so much that they finally begin to do something about Mike Ashley and the future of this football club.

I think the answer is obvious.

The only thing that would even perhaps encourage the moderates not to go, to take a stand, would be if Rafa Benitez left the club. You could argue that even then, after everything Mike Ashley has done: from doing similar things to Kevin Keegan and Alan Shearer, to outright lies, to discriminating against a fan favourite because he had cancer, to changing the name of the stadium etc etc (I could of course go on) – that even Rafa Benitez leaving wouldn’t stop fans going to the cathedral on the hill every Saturday, giving their money to Mike and supporting the team.

The thing that gets me about the serenading of Rafa, and the step up of the ‘If Rafa Goes We Go’ campaign in the past week or so, is that what is the point of Rafa Benitez actually staying at Newcastle under Mike Ashley? Who does it really benefit?

Let us just say for one moment that Rafa does sign a new contract…

It has been widely reported in the press that the offer is a two-year deal so let us take that as the length of this hypothetical. Rafa says “Yes Mr Ashley – I am happy with what you are offering with me and I will sign this new contract.” I would stress at this point that if Rafa does sign a new contract even though he is not 100% happy with what is offered, then he will be just as much to blame for anything that happens in the short-term future as anyone else.

So yes in a perfect world, Rafa is 100% happy, Ashley realizes how valuable he is and he gives him money to spend. The squad is revamped, investment is made in all areas of the club, the stadium, training ground… as well as the overall philosophy of the club changing from one that treats fans with utter contempt (see recent statement re Liverpool fans and the fact the club does not have a proper SLO) to one that appreciates the fans for what they are… its greatest asset.

Even the most optimistic Toon fan must know that is not going to happen.

So what can Rafa do in the next two years? He can maybe sign a few players and the annual threat of relegation might diminish. We might just reach the lofty heights of 8th or 9th… but let’s face it, that means finishing ahead of clubs who are far more ambitious, and spend far more money than Newcastle (see West Ham, Leicester, Bournemouth, Watford, Palace, Wolves, Everton) and THEN don’t forget about Burnley, Brighton or Southampton maximising their squads.

I don’t care what you say, under Mike Ashley, it doesn’t matter who the manager is, there is no hope.

So yes, if Rafa signs he is just playing into Ashley’s hands. Newcastle United will amble on aimlessly for another two years. It will continue as a club where ultimate success is not deemed by trophies, European football or results on the pitch, but by the ability of Newcastle United to act as a marketing vehicle for Sports Direct.

Let me ask, if Newcastle were without Ashley, and found themselves in League One like a certain team down the road… would things be better?

We would have hope for starters. We would likely have an owner and a football club that had ambition. We would have pride in our football club and its primary function would be to win football matches and make the supporters happy.

Are Sunderland fans happier now than they were two years ago? Yes 100%. They have their football club back. They may be rubbish but they have their football club back. You might see them complaining about this player or that player, or how rubbish the team was today, but they know that their football club is doing everything it can to get back to the top.

I tell you one thing, I would rather be in League One with no Mike Ashley and losing Rafa Benitez, than the Premier League with Mike Ashley and keeping Rafa Benitez.

I love Rafa, don’t get me wrong. As far as Newcastle’s greatest managers go, he is probably up there in the top five. However, Rafa Benitez is not the be all and end all. The Premier League is not the be all and end all. Newcastle United being the best it can possibly be, the long term future of the club, its hope and its ambition, is the be all and end all. None of that is possible under Mike Ashley.

Even this summer, it doesn’t look like anything is truly changing. The club seem hesitant to sign Solomon Rondon, they are insisting that only young players with future added value are signed, they have insisted that other areas such as the academy, stadium and training ground are not a priority and there remains little to no communication between club and fans. We are even going on a pre-season trip to China – for Newcastle United? Yeah right, for Sports Direct to market their business in Asia.

What has changed? It has been 12 years.

This club will never go anywhere under Mike Ashley. Sorry Rafa Benitez but this is much much bigger than having you around under Mike Ashley for a few more years.

You can follow the author on Twitter @JonathanComyn


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