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Give it to Chris Hughton?

3 years ago

Here we are once again, the club back at the bottom of a double helix and placed firmly back at square one.

A place where confusion, division and derision are the weaponry of the Ashley/Bishop PR axis.

Mike Ashley’s Newcastle United is back on its rinse and repeat cycle.

I have long accepted that under Ashley we would never progress, the only ambition is to be the 17th best club in the land.

The club taking its wrecking ball to the settled stasis it could have enjoyed and Kevin Keegan’s words some ten years ago again, once again now resonating through the City again like an ill wind.

It is hard to believe in any of the supposed takeover speculation.

This rhetoric is out there because historically, on the cycle, it works.

The precision of the theatre surrounding every “bid” obviously has Keith Bishop’s PR firms hands all over them, none more so than a UAE sports presenter filling in the blanks for unsubstantiated BZG group sources.

Unfortunately for us, multi million pound deals to buy Premier league Football clubs do not play out in public and certainly not through a personal twitter account of a DJ – they are concluded well in advance of public knowledge.

So now it appears to be clear that Mike Ashley is once again clearing the decks, trimming the fat and preparing for more of the same strategy of maximising profitable value of any and all assets..and at the end of it all the “Not for Sale” sign symbollically raised. Seem familiar?

Of course Ashley laid out this stall a number of years ago, announcing the club will operate on a budget with the onus on buying young players and selling them on for a profit.

Ayoze Perez is a perfect model of such a strategy.

Eighteen months ago Perez wouldn’t have brought in five million and was on a downward career spiral.

Unpopular at the time with fans, his selection every week baffled many, given his then performances. It was only the patient relationship with Rafa Benitez which kick-started his NUFC career.

Now the Perez £30 million sell on value from a £1.5 million investment gives testament to why Ashley operates in this manner.

Rafa Benitez’ success in galvanising the players and more importantly the fan base, was something which Ashley probably never saw coming when Rafa offered his services three years ago.

Sitting at Craven Cottage in May, Ashley witnessed the hysteria of Benitez as the second messiah, a man who can deliver on dreams with investment. But Ashley doesn’t like messiahs at his club, they promise too much and cost a fortune, so we were only ever going to end up at the same vanishing point.

It could be argued that from here on in that there will be no more big name managers challenging Ashley’s strategy and ego, in reality our last relegation had Ashley at a weak point in the form of financial loss. Since then he only ever saw Rafa as a necessary evil with whom he was loathe to dispense of his services at such a high cost to him personally.

What is needed is someone who can bridge a gap, the gap between managing expectation up against our unchanging financial reality.

Someone who is available for immediate start and a proven Premier and Championship manager.

Step forward Chris Hughton.

Of course Chris wouldn’t be a universal choice amongst fans, even my own choice would be Quique Sánchez Flores.

Unfortunately, Mike Ashley’s Newcastle United doesn’t bear a resemblance to a club of ambition which is the reason why coaches like Flores, like many others, wouldn’t accept Ashley’s model of ownership.

But what Chris Hughton offers, is what we need right now. If Chris isn’t on Ashley’s mind then he should be.

Chris has worked within relatively low Premier league budgets. More importantly he retains a healthy level of respect amongst NUFC fans and has proved himself a worthy opponent whenever our paths have crossed.

So right now, back at square one, sitting at the bottom of the double helix, unsure of Ashley’s next ill-willed plans for us, employing Chris Hughton could just about be the best we could hope for.


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