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Mike Ashley, Rafa Benitez, Lee Charnley and Joe Kinnear quotes show how we have ended up here…

3 weeks ago
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There are some ‘interesting’ quotes from Rafa Benitez, Mike Ashley, Joe Kinnear and Lee Charnley below.

Sometimes it helps to go back in time to help you understand how we have got to where we are now.

Just in case anybody asks, no, there are no Brexit mentions/comparisons…

Safe to say, this is Mike Ashley’s best/worst one yet.

Pre-season training starting next week, less than three weeks until the NUFC squad flies off to China, season starting in less than seven weeks…and no manager contracted for next season/pre-season, as well as not a single player bought in, the squad/team actually weaker with player of the season Salomon Rondon now back at West Brom.

Overriding all of this is of course the Newcastle United takeover, absolutely no comment still from the club and no signs of anything happening in the near future.

Indeed, the most reliable NUFC journalist, George Caukin of The Times, has now said Rafa Benitez is leaving and no takeover conclusion anywhere close.

Just a normal summer of rest from football on Tyneside…

So how have we reached this point?

Well, Mr Caulkin says that key to Rafa Benitez refusing to sign his contract, is down to the fact he doesn’t now trust Mike Ashley and the club refuse to take measures to progress Newcastle United, particularly the infrastructure, as well as transfer budget and freedom to spend it how Rafa sees fit of course.

Looking at the quotes below, on both 9 May 2017 and 13 May 2018, Mike Ashley promised ‘every penny’ and that Rafa Benitez had his ‘full support’ at the club.

Rafa coming to realise that ‘every penny’ might not count for a lot.

Even ‘better’, if you go to the bottom of these quotes you will see one from Joe Kinnear on 30 November 2013.

JFK saying (well it was quotes that his name was put on in a club press release so in reality it is Mike Ashley dictating what went out via his PR people) that the new state of the art training complex was needed because ‘Top players and top teams need top training and medical facilities…It will also be an added attraction when we are looking to recruit players.’

The training complex to be completed by 2016.

Moving six years forward to 18 April 2019 and Mike Ashley put Lee Charnley up to speak when the latest (2017/18) NUFC accounts were published: ‘If you were to ask me now, do I think we are best served spending that on a new training facility or spending it on improving the team…In my experience, has a player turned round and said I’m not signing for Newcastle United because of your training facilities? No. Did it stop us getting promoted out of the Championship, did it stop us finishing tenth, did it stop us having a good season this season? No.’

Can anybody wonder why Rafa Benitez might not have total trust in Mike Ashley…?

As for ambition and the club to finally progress after a dismal failure to properly invest in the squad since promotion in 2017, Newcastle having one of the lowest net spends and wage bills in the entire Premier League.

Rafa Benitez has been consistent in saying what has to happen, time after time:

‘You have to go in early (for the players you want), you have to choose your targets that you need. It is not that you need to sign the best player in the world…You just have to find the players that you need and do it quickly. Then (with Newcastle United) you have a city and a massive club with all the potential to grow, to do things better, to try to compete with anyone in the Premier League.’

‘Our conversations are about that (transfer funds), how much can we spend as other teams are spending a lot of money.’

‘When you analyse the transfer fees and wage bills of other teams, we’re not competing. When you see the teams between seventh and 15th, we have to compete with them. The wage bill is key. Teams in the 7th to 10th bracket are spending £100m (on players) and £100,000 a week (wages). If you want to sign players you have to do it now.’

As for Mike Ashley’s position in reply to this, he makes clear via Lee Charnley that nothing is going to change:

We all want to see the club improve and be competitive at every level, and in every competition. We are convinced that the best route to achieving this is to do so sustainably, spending on young development players and adding high quality to the first team squad each season – players that can really make a difference and improve the team – without risking the financial health and stability of the club.’

The same message, he might as well have said that Rafa Benitez will be getting ‘every penny’ if he hangs around.

All kinds of ways things could be done differently and Rafa convinced to stay, such as the owner actually investing in his own club, plus of course putting back in the £33m Mike Ashley took out of the cash flow after the summer 2018 transfer window, the club could use some of the upcoming season’s Premier League revenues now, rather than planning for the next relegation and keeping cash for that, or what about when selling players always insist on the money up front and/or paying for all of Newcastle’s/Rafa’s signings by instalment, to strengthen the the team for now and the future.

These quotes tell the story of a club without ambition.

Nothing is going to change on that front unless Mike Ashley is replaced by ambitious new owners.

Mike Ashley – 9 May 2017:

“I’ve confirmed to Rafa and Lee that they can have every last penny that the club generates through promotion, player sales and other means in order to build for next season.”

Mike Ashley – 13 May 2018 after beating Chelsea in final game of season:

“Rafa, as always, has my full support…”

“I will continue to ensure that every penny generated by the club is available to him…”

“I hope very much that Rafa will remain at Newcastle United.”

“Finally, I would like to thank the fans for their unrivalled support..”

Rafa Benitez on talking with Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley – 27 February 2019:

“I was talking with Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley and so they know what I think.

“So it is not a question to talk about: ‘We want one player.’

“We talk about what we have, what we want to do with the academy, the training ground and everything, so it’s just to ensure that we have a project [if Rafa stays]. We can do it.”

Lee Charnley 18 April 2019 – as reported by Martin Hardy (one of a number of selected journalists invited to speak to Lee Charnley):

“We are looking at a training ground building project that is potentially going to be between £15 m and £20million.

“If you were to ask me now, do I think we are best served spending that on a new training facility or spending it on improving the team, now, today in the short-term, I think that money is best spent on the team.

“We have revisited the plans that came out and we now have a different design. We have also got a different build structure.

“In my experience, has a player turned round and said I’m not signing for Newcastle United because of your training facilities? No. Did it stop us getting promoted out of the Championship, did it stop us finishing tenth, did it stop us having a good season this season? No.

“Is it something at some point in the future, if we could and it was the right time to spend the money, we would look at improving? Yes.”

Rafa Benitez – 13 April 2019;

“You have to go in early (for the players you want), you have to choose your targets that you need.

“It is not that you need to sign the best player in the world…

“You just have to find the players that you need and do it quickly.

“Then (with Newcastle United) you have a city and a massive club with all the potential to grow, to do things better, to try to compete with anyone in the Premier League.”

Lee Charnley – 18 April 2019 (After 2017/18 NUFC accounts released):

“We all want to see the club improve and be competitive at every level, and in every competition.

“We are convinced that the best route to achieving this is to do so sustainably, spending on young development players and adding high quality to the first team squad each season – players that can really make a difference and improve the team – without risking the financial health and stability of the club.

“We strongly believe that consistently doing the above, and robustly following this policy, will give us the best possible chance of achieving our shared ambitions.”

Rafa Benitez – 18 April 2019:

“I understand that it is your job (to ask questions about my future) and fans are waiting.

‘I finish my (current) contract on June 30 and I am a professional, what I (continue to) do is prepare the team in the best way possible

“We’re at the same point (with contract talks)…no news.

Our conversations are about that (transfer funds), how much can we spend as other teams are spending a lot of money.”

Rafa Benitez – 20 April 2019:

“In an ideal world I want to compete for something. That’s the main thing.

“We are in the same position as we were before (with new contract situation)

“When I came here, I could see the potential of the club to be challenging, certainly for seventh to 10th in the table, but looking higher.

“But when you analyse the transfer fees and wage bills of other teams, we’re not competing.

“I am the manager until 30 June.

“We can see the potential.

“When you see the teams between seventh and 15th, we have to compete with them.

“The wage bill is key. Teams in the 7th to 10th bracket are spending £100m (on players) and £100,000 a week (wages).

“If you want to sign players you have to do it now.”

Newcastle United official announcement – 30 November 2013:

‘United Announce New Training Ground Plans

Newcastle United have announced plans for a stunning new state-of-the-art training complex

Newcastle United Football Club have announced plans for a stunning new state-of-the-art training complex as part of a multi-million pound redevelopment of the Club’s existing 35-acre training ground site.

The current intention is that work will get underway in May 2015 and when complete in early 2016, the Magpies will occupy one of the finest training facilities of its kind in Europe.

While existing training pitches and a modern indoor training hall will be retained, the Club’s current Training Centre building will be demolished and replaced by a much larger, high-tech structure.

It will accommodate newly-designed changing, training, rehabilitation, medical, leisure and catering facilities and will also introduce the latest aquatic technology to the site, with a 20-metre swimming pool, a hydrotherapy and fitness pool and specialist equipment to aid injury prevention and recovery.

The new construction will also create a fitness centre double the size of the Club’s existing gymnasium, as well as administrative space, a presentation suite for match analysis and a new media suite.

Newcastle United director of football, Joe Kinnear, said: “This is a hugely exciting development for Newcastle United. We have one of football’s great stadiums and we are delighted to now be announcing plans for a training complex which will rival any in Europe.

“Top players and top teams need top training and medical facilities. Our current training ground has served the Club very well but the new complex will give us all of the ingredients that we need to continue maintaining and enhancing the performance of elite footballers.

“It will also be an added attraction when we are looking to recruit players.”

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