Have Newcastle United never tried in the FA Cup under Mike Ashley? The real story/truth
Newcastle United have never tried in the FA Cup whilst Mike Ashley has been owner.
That sentence/statement has become the accepted truth…but is it?
Have Newcastle always treated the FA Cup with contempt/total disinterest, or is reality a little bit different to that.
What can’t be argued against is the embarrassing record in the competition during Mike Ashley’s ownership.
Since taking over Newcastle United in 2007, Newcastle have exited at the first stage (third round) six times and the second stage (fourth round) six times.
Will it be 13 times lucky and the fifth round at last this year?
Here are those 13 years, detailing who was manager/head coach when the FA Cup third round was played, how many points NUFC had accumulated by that point, then the game where they exited the competition:
2007/08 Sam Allardyce (26 points from 21 games) – Arsenal 3 Newcastle 0 in fourth round
2008/09 Joe Kinnear (22 points from 20 games) – Newcastle 0 Hull 1 in third round replay
2009/10 Chris Hughton (In the Championship) – West Brom 4 Newcastle 2 in fourth round
2010/11 Alan Pardew (28 points from 21 games) – Stevenage 3 Newcastle 1 in third round
2011/12 Alan Pardew (33 points from 20 games) – Brighton 1 Newcastle 0 in fourth round
2012/13 Alan Pardew (20 points from 21 games) – Brighton 2 Newcastle 0 in third round
2013/14 Alan Pardew (33 points from 20 games) – Newcastle 1 Cardiff 2 in third round
2014/15 John Carver (27 points from 20 games) – Leicester 1 Newcastle 0 in third round
2015/16 Steve McClaren (17 points from 20 games) – Watford 1 Newcastle 0 in third round
2016/17 Rafa Benitez (In the Championship) – Oxford 3 Newcastle 0 in fourth round
2017/18 Rafa Benitez (22 points from 22 games) – Chelsea 3 Newcastle 0 in fourth round
2018/19 Rafa Benitez (18 points from 21 games) – Newcastle 0 Watford 2 in fourth round
2019/20 Steve Bruce (25 points from 21 games) – ???
It is pretty grim reading but as for ‘not trying’, is/was it a constant?
The very first FA Cup match under Mike Ashley was abysmal.
However, it wasn’t a case of a club/owner decision not to try, it was Sam Allardyce’s abysmal negative tactics that saw a very lucky goalless draw at second tier Stoke. That performance enough for Mike Ashley to be persuaded Fat Sam had to go.
The replay was on the day (night) when Kevin Keegan was announced as replacement, despite playing for most of the game with 10 men, Newcastle blitzed Stoke 4-1 with KK watching on. Getting Arsenal away in the fourth round was always going to end the ‘run’.
Even the second Ashley season when Newcastle were always fighting relegation, there was no real sense that the FA Cup had been written off, just a rubbish display at home to Hull in a third round replay knocking NUFC off.
The third season it was all about promotion and with what is at stake these days, wanting the distraction of a cup run as you are trying to get promoted is plain daft, especially when you already have 46 league games to get through.
It was 2011 when it all started, coincidentally with Alan Pardew as manager for the first time.
Chris Hughton unjustly sacked with Newcastle mid-table after promotion as champions, despite having 28 points from 21 Premier League games, Pardew played weakened team and an embarrassing defeat at Stevenage followed.
It was almost as though Mike Ashley had been so scared/shocked by the swift end of PL revenues and worldwide free advertising of Sports Direct, he had simply ordered that only PL survival mattered, get out of the cups as quickly as possible.
In two of the next three seasons (2011/12 and 2013/14), Newcastle had 33 points from 20 games, surely the perfect opportunities to attack the FA Cup. No chance, Alan Pardew playing weakened teams both times and instant exits. Further fuelling rumours that Pardew was under orders not to try in the cups.
The next season Pardew jumped ship mid-season, when we got to FA Cup third round time, John Carver was Head Coach and Newcastle had a very comfortable 27 points from 20 PL games. Carver insisted that he would throw everything at the FA Cup and yet he left most of the first team out and claimed they had injuries/knocks, only for them to be playing once again in the next PL match. That coming after another instant FA Cup exit.
That though was the real story of Newcastle United not trying in the FA Cup, orders from Mike Ashley not to try. In four of five seasons Newcastle had reached a PL points total that should have seen them have no excuses for not attacking the FA Cup.
Since then though, it hasn’t been so much Mike Ashley ordering the team/manager not to try, more a case of the NUFC owner making it impossible.
A relegation season followed by a promotion one.
Then two seasons where Mike Ashley starved Rafa Benitez of proper funds and yet offered the team a £20m bonus if they won the FA Cup in 2018. Talk about the owner rubbing it in.
Some people didn’t like Rafa’s honesty, that the refusal of Ashley to allow proper investment in the squad AND the fact that relegations battles were been fought both seasons (22 points from 22 games and 18 from 21) meant survival was the only thing on the agenda.
Which brings us to now.
Steve Bruce had 25 points from 21 games when kicking off the FA Cup at Rochdale, plus since the previous (2019) FA Cup adventure, Newcastle have invested £80m at last in three attacking players, as well as other arrivals.
Probably enough points banked to have a go, a better and bigger financed squad, two more signings (Bentaleb and Lazaro) added this week.
Maybe not quite time to dream yet but certainly time to have a go.
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