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Opinion

Difficult to believe in a happy ending after 12 years of Mike Ashley

1 month ago
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To have the hopes and dreams of hundreds of thousand of people in your hands, must be dream for Mike Ashley.

Most definitely a massive fringe benefit due to owning Newcastle United, on top of all the huge financial benefits he has from 12 years and counting of controlling NUFC.

With Newcastle fans having first crossed the owner en masse only around 15 months after he bought the club, vengeance has been sweet for Mike Ashley ever since Kevin Keegan was forced out.

Acting like some kind of Greek God, Ashley has looked down and taken great pleasure as the fanbase has at times ripped itself apart, with supporters arguing amongst themselves over just how you get rid of a billionaire who is making so much money out of his association with the club, as well as getting those fringe benefits of watching Newcastle fans suffer.

Things now though appear to come to a head.

On top of the past year of countless Newcastle fans declaring ‘IfRafaGoesWeGo’, we now have the ownership issue

If you are a poker player you would probably term it as ‘all in’, which in the poker sense means betting every last thing you have on that one hand of cards.

In our Newcastle United sense, this summer is looking like everything is now depending on the ownership issue.

Either more ambitious owners, with Rafa Benitez still in charge and Salomon Rondon one of a number of key signings to help progress the club.

Or Mike Ashley and none of the above.

I find it very difficult/impossible to now see Rafa Benitez staying on if Mike Ashley is still here, with connected to that, absolutely zero chance of Newcastle buying Salomon Rondon and any credible transfer strategy.

We are talking about elation or devastation with little/nothing in between.

The thing is, after more that 12 years of Mike Ashley, happy endings have been totally absent, any positive flames of positivity have been swiftly extinguished.

Kevin Keegan – Appointed as manager but lied to from the start, Mike Ashley telling Keegan he had the final say on transfers only to secretly give that power to Dennis Wise instead. KK suing successfully for constructive dismissal less than eight months later.

Alan Shearer – Brought in far too late with eight matches to go to try and sort out the mess the owner had brought about. After the inevitable relegation Mike Ashley asked Shearer for a detailed plan of how he would get promotion and then rebuild in the Premier League. Shearer did that for the NUFC owner and never ever heard from him again.

Chris Hughton – After doing that to Shearer, Ashley gave the job to Hughton as caretaker initially, as e was available, cheap and easy to manipulate, or so the NUFC owner thought. Chris Hughton did a brilliant job, promoted as champions despite no money to spend and then a pittance to spend after promotion, Sacked only three months into the season despite being mid-table and only weeks earlier beating Sunderland 5-1 and winning 1-0 at Arsenal.

Fifth – Incredible luck handed Mike Ashley a fifth place finish in 2011/12. Instead of investing on top of this opportunity Ashley allowed no net spend and only Vurnon Anita bought in, that next season subsequently ending up a year long relegation fight with safety only achieved at the final away match.

Players – Key signings Ba and Cabaye arrived on the cheap due to contract clauses and proved great successes but rather than build a better team around them, Mike Ashley chose to use them just to keep Newcastle afloat and inevitably they moved on. Fans turned against both players but if you’re honest, the club’s zero ambition meant there was nothing done to keep them.

Rafa Benitez – A quality manager appeared from nowhere and offered his services. the owner initially backing Rafa with cash (though a £40m profit was still made on transfer deals in summer 2016) but then since promotion Mike Ashley has undermined the manager ever since, refusing to allow any kind of realistic investment to take the club forward. Now at a point of only 25 days to go until Rafa’s contract runs out.

As outlined above, any number of points at which during these 12 years we were going to see an upward curve towards a happy ending but Mike Ashley killing that off rapidly each time.

If part of this summer’s final equation ends up with Mike Ashley still owning Newcastle United, there will not be a happy ending.

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