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Opinion

Spends £40m on a striker and Newcastle United fans still not happy, Mike Ashley just can’t win…

1 year ago
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Poor old Mike Ashley.

When he refuses to spend money he gets stick from Newcastle supporters.

Then when smashing the club transfer record on £40m Joelinton, fans are still calling him.

Just what can Mike Ashley ever do to please this overly demanding, deluded and ungrateful fanbase???

Where do you start…?

The above is a narrative that we will hear plenty of in the coming ours, days and weeks, from various media and neutrals. When I say neutrals of course, I mean fans of other clubs who do take a very active interest in NUFC, although only to have a go at Newcastle supporters.

Newcastle/Mike Ashley spending an alleged £40m on a single player isn’t of course a negative in itself.

However, what our enemies don’t want to accept, is that it isn’t quite as simplistic as that.

The question isn’t just, do you want your club to spend £40m on a striker or don’t you?

The team/squad have been crying out for proper investment for years, so spending money on the attacking positions after the departures of Perez and Rondon was an absolute essential.

However, it all feels very much like the summer of 2015, when after relegation fights in previous seasons, Mike Ashley suddenly allowed spending of over £50m on four players. Four young players (two 20 year olds, a 2 year old and a 24 year old) who had never played in the Premier League before.

A head coach had been appointed in Steve McClaren who had no say on transfers and had these players handed to him.

Who has decided that Newcastle would spend £40m on Joelinton?

Well obviously Mike Ashley has had to say yes but who gave the expert football advice? It certainly wasn’t Steve Bruce as this transfer has been a long time in the planning, so is Graham Carr still involved or maybe Dennis Wise advises his mate on who to buy.

This is where everything becomes more transparent as to why Newcastle fans are unconvinced about this Joelinton signing and the overall transfer policy…’plan’.

In Rafa Benitez, Mike Ashley had a very experienced manager who has experienced much success in his career, working at a very high level consistently. Rafa’s last six clubs (previous to Newcastle) are all in the Champions League this coming season, showing a manager who was continuously employed and trusted at clubs with high expectations. Obviously he still experienced highs and lows but nevertheless, clubs employing him because of his track record and expertise.

Why wouldn’t you want to trust that experience and expertise when making the decisions on which players needed to be bought and sold?

The thing is, Rafa Benitez had already proved himself to Mike Ashley. In the three and a half years at the club with no net spend, Rafa had delivered instant promotion as champions and then league finishes of 10th and 13th in the Premier League, both seasons ending 11 points above the relegation zone.

Not every signing had worked of course but why wouldn’t you want to then trust such a manager after delivering that relative success on such a tight budget, if now Premier League level spending was finally going to be allowed?

It feels very much a power struggle where Mike Ashley wants to dictate what happens, wanting to have staff who follow orders and in particular willing to say absolutely nothing against a dangerous policy of putting so much blind faith in young inexperienced signings, in the vague hope they will increase in value.

If indeed there is/was a genuine transfer budget of £61m (on transfer fees, not wages etc) plus sales from players, then I think if Rafa Benitez had been given the freedom and had stayed, there would have been no danger of relegation and top 10 all but certain, with hopes of going higher.

A Rafa disciplined defence that in each of the past two seasons had seen only two clubs outside the top four concede less goals, then the emergence of that attacking trio of Almiron, Rondon and Perez that showed such promise once the Paraguayan arrived.

It looked like a real plan in the making.

Benitez constructing a team over the past three and half years despite no net spend, that finally looked to be really coming together and if now decent money to spend, could become a real force.

If Rafa had stayed and been allowed to wheel and deal, I think he would have brought in left and right wing-backs for his back three/five system that showed such promise last season, secured Rondon as a permanent signed, offered Perez higher wages but if he was still desperate to leave then found a good/better replacement. Then on top of that sold off a number of players such as Shelvey and others to raise extra cash and free up squad places, as well as a host of clearly below standard players such as Colback, Lazaar and Aarons.

What is more, is that Rafa Benitez would have moved heaven and earth to get as much done as early as possible in the transfer window and ensure the best possible preparation for the new season.

Instead, we have waited 10 weeks to make the first signing and almost as long to even appoint a patsy/head coach, only two weeks of the transfer window to make other essential signings and only two and a half weeks until the season kicks off.

It is madness.

It looks pretty clear that there will be no essential overhaul of the squad and other must-have signings won’t necessarily be made.

The season could well kick off with a £40m Joelinton relying on the likes of Colback, Lazaar and Manquillo/Sterry to help supply and support him.

Joelinton and potentially one or two other relatively high transfer fee signings decided by Mike Ashley on the advice of person(s) unknown and handed to Steve Bruce.

Mike Ashley doesn’t believe in planning or being tied down to any kind of long-term strategy to try and bring success to Newcastle United. Instead he wants to pursue his own season to season haphazard existence of trying to keep NUFC in the top tier whilst at the same time hoping to hit the jackpot on players increasing in value.

He refused to try and build on the unexpected lucky breakthrough of the fifth place finish in 2011/12 and likewise, had no intention of backing and allowing Rafa Benitez to build on the three years of foundations he’d built despite  a complete failure to support the manager.

Newcastle United – Making  it up as they go along ever since 2007.

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