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Opinion

Lee Charnley once again set up as fall guy as Mike Ashley leaves Rafa Benitez to him – Report

1 month ago
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Sunday morning has brought reports that Mike Ashley has now left Rafa Benitez contact talks solely in the hands of Lee Charnley.

A week past Thursday saw Newcastle United’s owner, Managing Director and Manager meet at a secret location in London.

With Newcastle fans now totally bemused at no sign of progress and the transfer window (and Rafa transfer negotiations…) now reaching their eleventh day.

The report from the Chronicle states: ‘Mike Ashley has now left the contract talks to managing director Lee Charnley and has taken a step back from the discussions which started on May 16.’

Ten days ago I wrote an article about Mike Ashley ‘not making mistakes’ and part of that is reproduced below, the part that talked about Lee Charnley.

The main point I was making isn’t that Mike Ashley hasn’t been a total disaster and/or hasn’t made shocking decisions, instead, I believe that in most cases he knows exactly what he is doing. That when the likes of Lee Charnley and Joe Kinnear are made the very public face of supposed decision making at Newcastle United, it isn’t a case of the owner misjudging their talents or suitability.

To me, this whole Rafa Benitez contract situation is building up into yet another blame Lee Charnley set-up.

Year after year Mike Ashley has claimed/pretended that he has no real influence on what happens at Newcastle United and laughingly tries to make out that it is Lee Charnley who makes the big decisions.

I already see loads of Newcastle fans increasingly talking about how useless Lee Charnley is and no surprise if he messes up on the Rafa Benitez contract situation.

How naive can anybody be?

That is exactly what Mike Ashley wants people to be saying and it is exactly what Lee Charnley’s key role is at the club, to stand there and deflect criticism away from the owner.

If Rafa Benitez is forced to walk away, it will be solely down to one person, Mike Ashley.

It won’t be because of Lee Charnley messing up minor details or getting stuff wrong.

It will be because Mike Ashley has refused to bend on any or all of the key issues, whether that is size of transfer budget, freedom for the manager to choose who to sign, investment in the infrastructure (likes of Academy and training complex etc), refusing to commit in writing to ‘promises’ made to Rafa Benitez and so on.

Mike Ashley makes all the big decisions at Newcastle United and this is just the latest, and potentially biggest, he looks set to get wrong where the short and long-term future of the football club is concerned.

The Chronicle report:

‘Mike Ashley is believed to have maintained his stance that Rafa Benitez is the man he wants to manage Newcastle United next season.

However, United chiefs have also made it clear they must continue to cut their cloth accordingly in the transfer window and in the words of the club in April continue: “Living within our means.”

Ashley will not budge on the club’s approach to spending but a potential £61million transfer pot is on the table for Benitez to spend along with the £11million carried forward from the January window.

In addition to this, money for players sold will also come into the equation.

But Mike Ashley has now left the contract talks to managing director Lee Charnley and has taken a step back from the discussions which started on May 16.

Charnley said recently: “In terms of how we spend our money moving forward we would envisage spending it on quality rather than quantity – players that can really make the difference and improve the team.

“We’d then look to supplement this with loans…”

Charnley will look to make progress on Benitez’s contract situation next week as tension continues to build within the club’s fanbase.

With the window now open and a host of Newcastle players wanting talks with the club about their futures, the need to push on and shape the squad for the 2019/20 season is there for all to see.’

Part of my article on The Mag on 16 May 2019:

I keep reading/hearing about how Mike Ashley has made mistake after mistake at Newcastle United.

People keep telling me that if only he hadn’t made this and that blunder, the club/team could have been successful.

Pundits saying that if only the NUFC owner realised where he was going wrong, he could avoid repeating the same old mistakes.

The thing is though, Mike Ashley hasn’t made any mistakes at Newcastle United.

He knows exactly what he is doing and has been doing it for pretty much all of these 12 (TWELVE) years he has owned Newcastle United.

I am seeing comments as we speak, Newcastle fans saying that ‘Even if Rafa Benitez is persuaded to stay and given a proper transfer budget and freedom to spend it, just watch that daft Lee Charnley mess the signings up, not manage to get them over the line’…etc etc.

The truth is, Lee Charnley is simply a fall guy for the owner.

Mike Ashley employs him as an office manager (on office manager wages compared to those who do run rival Premier League clubs) but exposes him to ridicule to deflect away from the owner.

Lee Charnley is the only named executive at NUFC, he is the only member of the Newcastle United board.

How much clearer can it be!

Any number of times when bad things have happened at the club, too countless to mention. We have then heard from Mike Ashley himself, or his minions planting media stories, saying that the owner has no real input on the running of the club or involvement in decision making. In other words, blame it on Lee Charnley!

I repeat, it is not a mistake that he employs Lee Charnley and claims he makes all the decisions, it is just a cynical ploy. As the widespread media reports have stated, it is one of Ashley’s inner circle, Justin Barnes, who the owner has given the authority to when it comes to NUFC.

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