Exciting when jump down Twitter rabbit hole and see the names mentioned ahead of Newcastle takeover
As a Newcastle United fan of 24 years, the majority of that time has been under a Mike Ashley ownership.
I remember watching on Sky Sports him downing a pint in the stands with his NUFC shirt on and thinking, “this guy will understand, this guy we can get behind”…I was wrong. Very wrong.
The differences between where we are and where we were are significant.
Bar that miracle of a season under Alan Pardew, under Ashley we have not had a top 9 finish, been relegated twice and had a £40million striker (or left winger in the Mario Mandzukic at Juventus role of a winger) have an ice bath in an £8 paddling pool with 5 or 6 others at the same time.
I can go into transfer spending under his ownership too…but any Geordie knows how dire it is. We don’t need reminding.
In walks Amanda
Then, in October 2017, a businesswoman and her husband were snapped at St James Park watching a vintage Rafa Benitez set up team draw 1-1 with Liverpool, the touch paper was lit. Amanda Staveley aimed her sights on buying Newcastle United.
Two and a half years later, we are here. A consortium which will make Newcastle the wealthiest club in the Premier League (by a casual £260 billion) is on the verge of owning Newcastle. Where we can be under the impending takeover is unthinkable. This is what we want…right?
Setting aside the issues of human rights in Saudi Arabia and the alleged involvement of Mohamad Bin Salman in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi (something some former players want us to feel guilty about *cough* Stan Collymore *cough*), there are a lot of other football related questions that we have to ask of this consortium.
Let’s get one thing straight, Mike Ashley was not a football man. Amanda Staveley is not a football woman. Yasir Al-Rumayyan, reported to be the chairman in waiting, is not a football man. These are people who want to make money and/or have influence and with the vast wealth we are reported to soon have, that we could lose the heart of what this club is. This is why having Rafa Benitez back is so essential.
I must admit it is exciting when you jump down the Twitter rabbit hole seeing names like Pochettino and Allegri discussed for the Newcastle job, far removed from last summer when Steve Bruce wasn’t even a top ten choice. However, I think that for the seismic shift this club is likely to go down, familiarity maybe a bonus.
Whoever the new manager is, if there is one at all, they are likely to be supported with investment into the stadium, training ground and academy (all things which sit outside Financial Fair Play rules) and will be part of a wider project of bringing Newcastle United back towards European Places.
This will not be done overnight after the Newcastle United takeover and will likely take 2-3 seasons to achieve in a sustainable manner. It will need meticulous planning, someone who has an incredible passion, work ethic and understanding of the club and city.
Rafa left on the back of broken promises relating to control, transfer responsibilities and investment into the training ground and academy, all issues the new owners are likely to address.
When he left, it hurt fans. Not the fact that Rafa left us, we understood why he left, and some went with him. It was more that we saw a man who had such ambitions for Newcastle and was dedicated to building a club in his own image, left because the owner of the club didn’t have those ambitions for his asset. How depressing is that?
Rafa knew that it would take years and he was willing to work that long, but only if the conditions were right. Should the Premier League tests be successful, the conditions could now be right for bringing him back.
He knows the city. He knows the Geordies. He knows most of the players and he can try to finish what he started. We know his style; we accept it is pragmatic and not the most exciting football in the world to watch, but we trust him and will support him wholeheartedly.
He is though, under contract with a rumoured clause of £20million should anyone try to buy his contract out and even though we can boast that we are about to become one of the world’s wealthiest clubs, when other top quality managers are available for free, like Poch and Allegri, will they want to splash this amount of cash. Remember, they are here to make money.
We can’t ignore the person in the current hotseat, however.
When Steve Bruce announced he was stepping down as Sheffield Wednesday manager, we were not best pleased. How could we go from Rafa to Brucey? But credit where credit is due. Steve Bruce, for all the negative press he has received, has done a good job. No ifs, no buts. He has done a good job. He took a job no one else wanted. He risked his reputation to leave Wednesday and join his boyhood club when Arteta, Gerrard, Vieira all said no.
He is one of us. He has got players playing for him. We have had some ups and downs but I want to make it clear, I have no issue with Bruce accepting the job he was offered and working with what he has.
We are in an FA Cup Quarter Final and safe from relegation. Fair play to him. I think he should be given the rest of the season if it continues.
All the grief we have given him, the man has dealt with everything in a top class manner and he deserves praise for that. He has stood up and been counted and if he is asked to leave he will not be short of opportunities. Should the season finish and should a decision be made, I would like the Geordie faithful to appreciate what Steve Bruce has done this season and thank him if given the chance.
He is unlikely to be given the keys to the kingdom when next season begins because he is unlikely to be in charge of a club which requires this level of rebuild. They will, unfortunately for him, want a bigger name.
This morning (21st April) reports across various media outlets set out that the PL Checks were the last thing to be completed. Deposit paid. Contracts exchanged. It looks like it is actually going to happen.
We are about to embark on a crazy, exciting journey and I would like to be led there by a man who has been through so much turmoil with us before. Someone who has proven himself across the world and someone with a bit of unfinished business with Newcastle.
Rafa, we want you back.
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