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Opinion

‘Unless there is change at the top at Newcastle United I won’t be back’

1 week ago
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During this Premier League mid-season break, time to take stock at Newcastle United.

At the two thirds of the season stage, Newcastle are on 31 points after 25 Premier League matches and moving into February, still in the FA Cup!

None of it has been particularly easy on the eye but how do you see the current state of affairs at Newcastle United?

We have asked a number of regular/irregular writers for The Mag to answer various sets of pertinent questions, next up is Davey Hat-Trick.

If the 2020/21 season kicks off with Mike Ashley, Lee Charnley and Steve Bruce all still at the club, how will you feel and what will you be doing?

I gave up my season ticket this season and don’t really regret it. I doubt I’ll get one next season if the current group are in charge.

Free tickets from mates have meant I’ve seen a few games and if that is the case next season I’ll be happy to go. But my enthusiasm has waned over the last decade and it would take a change at the top to bring it back

Have you enjoyed this season?

Parts of it. It’s been very low on entertainment but stronger on results than I’d anticipated.

The odd moments (first half at West Ham, last-minute goals, creditable results v Sheff Utd, Spurs and City, Miggy and Matty’s first goals) have saved the season from being a complete snooze-fest. But that is true of the last couple of seasons too, so it’s not like my expectations were high to begin with.

No new contracts agreed for the Longstaff brothers who are still paid a pittance and Matty could leave for £400,000 compensation in the summer. Please discuss.

It has to be a priority. Neither of them look like world-beaters but they are right for Newcastle.

If we did sell/lose them, they’d cost tens of millions more to replace, so on purely financial grounds, they have to get signed up.

10,000 free season tickets – desperation, an Ashley masterstroke?

A bit of both. He might find some new fans, the stadium looks better full, and he’s got 10,000 potential shoppers walking past the store.

On the other hand, if season-ticket holders think they’ll get a deal next season by keeping their powder dry, Ashley may have made a rod for his own back.

If Mike Ashley still owns Newcastle next season, do you think he will fill St James Park and if so, how?

I refer the right honourable gentleman to my previous question.

My guess is he’ll shift 30,000 season tickets tops if he does nothing (unless we win the FA Cup!) and I’d also guess he’ll want to fill the ground. So there may be some ‘buy one, get one half-price’ sort of deals around.

Income from tickets is a fraction of what the club gets from elsewhere, so he probably figures he can afford to take a hit.

How much say, if any, does Steve Bruce have on transfers in and out?

I do get the impression he gets more of what he wants than previous managers did under this regime. He certainly seems more relaxed than Rafa was.

Obviously, there’s a budget, so he knows where he’s shopping. I’d guess he has as much control as he was promised.

Was the summer 2019 transfer window a success for NUFC?

A mixed bag for me.

Saint-Maximin has been a real tonic.

Andy Carroll has contributed more than I’d anticipated he would.

Krafth might yet turn out OK but I’m not sure his is a position we needed to fill.

And I’d love Joelinton to come good but he’s struggling more than anyone I can recall at Newcastle. At £40m+, he’s getting more attention that most and it looks worse when compared to what Joselu – who we sold for £2m or £3m is doing in La Liga.

Despite it taking four games and extra-time to get past two League One teams, the FA Cup is seen by many as a massive success this season. Please discuss.

It’s a bit of light relief. I’ll enjoy it for as long as it lasts.

No way it’s a massive success but it’s been a welcome distraction from the dourness of the Premier League.

TAKEOVER

Is Mike Ashley seriously trying to sell?

Everything is for sale if the price is right.

I don’t think he ‘tries to sell’ in that he calls up people asking if they want to buy. He has no need to. But if someone calls him, I’m sure he listens to what they have to say

Are there one or more bidders seriously trying to buy the club?

No one knows.

As part of my job, I do occasional due diligence work on potential mergers and acquisitions. They are always the subject of the most stringent of non-disclosure agreements and so on. Sometimes I’m not even allowed to mention what I’m doing to colleagues.

So the idea that fans – or journalists – will be informed on any and every bidder is, I’m afraid, a pipedream. There may be something afoot, but I’d bet that a lot of what we see in the papers is guesswork. We’ll know for sure when Ashley hands over the keys but not before.

Do you think there will be a new owner(s) by the time the 2020/21 season kicks off?

I’ve no idea. Nor does any fan. Only Mike Ashley knows for sure.

One thing I do know is that I’m not going to get worked up about it. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, we’re no worse off.

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