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Opinion

This is who will be the first to go once new owners complete Newcastle United takeover

5 months ago
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Ok, so it hasn’t happened yet, but after a Newcastle United takeover what could new owners do to revitalise the one thing that keeps the club going, it’s fans?

The answer is simple.

Exactly the same as what Mike Ashley could have done, but refused to do, over the last 13 years. Simply show some ambition.

Engaging with a club’s fanbase isn’t the be all and end all of any owner/supporter relationship but boy does it help. To deliberately cut off that relationship would be foolish on the part of any owner at any club.

To deliberately antagonise and goad said relationship? That, in any walk of business, is madness. And looking at all that he has done, it’s no wonder Mike Ashley is despised around here.

I’ve always said that this club’s greatest strength is also its achilles heel. No other club would put up with such an abusive partner in the way our fans have with Mike Ashley over thirteen years.

If this takeover happens, you’re going to read an awful lot of summaries and retrospectives of his ownership over the coming weeks and it will provide a good marker with future owners. Put simply, it would be IMPOSSIBLE to make as many ‘mistakes’, accidental or self-inflicted, as Mike Ashley has done at the club.

I’ve heard comments from fans mentioning a stadium change either by raising the capacity of St James Park or by moving altogether. Personal preference would be to stay and do whatever it takes to increase St James’ but if that proves too costly/problematic, then move we shall. The mere fact that this is being discussed shows a change in mindset from fans that would be unthinkable sticking with Ashley. Think we can’t fill a 60,000+ seater stadium…then think again.

We averaged 51,000+ crowds when we were in the Championship for heavens sake, so I would venture that attendances would jump dramatically the very first match after Ashley leaves. You can forget the 10,000 freeloaders, willing to either sit in silence or symbolically acknowledge Ashley with their mere presence in a ground plastered with his tatty adverts. In future they won’t be there. In their place will be supporters actually WILLING to pay and WILLING Newcastle United to greater things.

On the footballing front, replacing Steve Bruce would lift supporters to such an extent that selling seats would also be a doddle. Pick any manager with a decent reputation across Europe and it’s highly likely he will have a better reputation than Bruce The Excuse. They will also come with instant goodwill and hope. That’s what happens when you set the bar low. You quite often fall well below the standard of that bar. That’s why Newcastle United have Steve Bruce as Head Coach. Aim high and at least you won’t get Steve Bruce.

When he was first mooted as our manager back in 2004 in the Sir Bobby Robson days, I was unimpressed. That was as positive as I’ve ever got with him and nothing has changed in the 16 years since, if anything time has not been kind. He is no longer a young manager with something to prove, he has an extensive CV and it’s not a good one, far from it. Apart from the spiel and hyperbole that he has uttered as a professional manager in his 20+ years in the job, he simply hasn’t got anything that would stand him out as a candidate at a Premier League club, apart from being grateful to have been given the job. A perfect Ashley fit and one straight out the door. But who to replace him?

Rafa Benitez anyone? It could be a perfect fit, at least for a few years. Most of his squad are still there and retain his tactical and training methods and with the uncertainty over in China, he could be willing to break his contract and move back to England. The world has changed in the nine months since he left. Loyalty to a job has been replaced by basic health and survival. Regardless of his style of play, being backed in the transfer market would allow him to finish the job he started and would certainly put more bums on seats.

This club needs an overhaul which wouldn’t be cheap but it would be surprisingly easy to do. It would be simple to upgrade the training ground from wheelie bins and kids paddling pools. A training ground doesn’t sell a club to a new signing on it’s own but it can certainly put one off. Just ask prospective signing Boubakary Soumare, who was shown a video on FaceTime by Florien Lejeune and Alan Saint-Maximin of the facilities and promptly said ‘Au Revoir’ to the deal. It makes a mockery of Lee Charnley stating that “No player has said they will not sign for us because of the training ground”. Pathetic!

And what of old Charnley anyway. Between him and Bruce I don’t know which one is sweating on his job most. Both will know (if they are honest with themselves) that they are well out of their depths, they can’t be that arrogant to think otherwise. Charnley was simply put in the job because he was a yes man, willing to do and say whatever it takes to deflect criticism from the one higher up and simply followed on from the other buffoon in Derek Llambias. Christ, Ashley really placed this club in the hands of incompetents over his tenure. The days of Chris Mort being hands on and friendly with the fans seems a world away. Despite being an associate, Mort seemed to have Ashley’s number pretty early on.

I could imagine in any Newcastle United takeover, it will be Charnley that will go first as it’s nearly always a ripple effect. You can stumble along with Bruce as Head Coach until this season is played out and then either go for Rafa Benitez or someone more progressive and to the new owners’ liking. That takes an ounce of common sense, professionalism, forward thinking and experience of football. Lee Charnley doesn’t qualify on any of that.

Who knows where we will end up but while I’ve seen talks of multi-million pound fantasy signings and suggestions of ’emulating Manchester City’ doing the rounds from over optimistic fans, we must keep our heads fairly level. We aren’t suddenly going to be signing Harry Kane. First things first, a sense of reality and perspective is needed.

After 13 years of gloom and underselling the club, its fans and the city in general, getting rid of Mike Ashley is one transfer Newcastle United desperately needs to see over the line.

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