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Opinion

Mike Ashley has proved he can fool some of the people all of the time

2 weeks ago
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You have to hand it to Mike Ashley.

The Newcastle United owner proving that you can indeed fool some of the people all of the time.

Quite amazing after these 13+ years and counting that some Newcastle fans behave like this.

It may be only a minority of supporters but it is appear to be a fairly sizeable one, which when you then combine it with the numerous NUFC journalists who are prepared to toe the Mike Ashley line, it becomes a very toxic mix.

I can certainly understand the relief that comes with Newcastle United finally making some potentially credible signings.

I can understand there being a certain amount of excitement because Wilson and Fraser could just maybe save us from a repeat of what was the most boring season of football many of us had ever experienced.

I can understand fans thinking that just maybe if then Lewis and one or two other rumoured (almost certainly loan) signings happen, Newcastle can avoid a relegation struggle.

I can’t though understand those NUFC supporters who are proclaiming this as some superb transfer window that is so unbelievable and swallow the line that Mike Ashley and minions such as Lee Charnley are delivering something beyond our wildest dreams.

Yes, if you are dying of thirst then a pint of Carling will be gratefully grabbed and drank when offered, but it is still just a pint of Carling.

Newcastle fans have been truly dying of thirst in this transfer window.

A squad reliant on such a small number of quality players and with so little creativity and goals, a team that ended last season with the third worst form over the final 20 Premier League matches, which included only four wins and two of them were against 10 men.

To then not spend a penny on new players in the first six weeks of the transfer window, only two free transfers (Gillespie and Hendrick) who are squad players, to then finally bring in some signings less than a week before the Premier League kicks off, it is a total joke.

This means you have a team that struggled so badly since Christmas 2019 after Steve Bruce’s outrageous luck largely came to an end, already having to play catch up. Signings who are set to be first team players (Wilson, Fraser and Lewis) having only a few days of pre-season with NUFC and taking no part in the preparation matches.

As for the (later) signings themselves, I do think they could / should do ok, hopefully a bit better than that because we need them to.

However, they aren’t world beaters that Newcastle are signing this week.

Ryan Fraser had cynically ran his contract down so he could leave as a free agent and maximise his personal terms, whilst Callum Wilson and Jamal Lewis were always going to move this summer once their clubs had been relegated.

Bottom line is that all three had to sign for somebody. Newcastle United one of those clubs where you would realistically see them going to.

The only real competition for Callum Wilson were Aston Villa who only survived on the final day of last season.

No interest from the ‘big’ clubs in Ryan Fraser, nor the ambitious ones such as Wolves and Leicester, so he was always going to one of the rest, which is what Newcastle are under Mike Ashley sadly. Doesn’t make Fraser a bad player but in reality it is no phenomenal success to be attracting the winger ahead of Brighton, West Brom or whoever.

Similarly Jamal Lewis. Liverpool made a cheeky offer well below his valuation which would have seen his become a squad player second or third choice behind Robertson. A no lose for the scousers as if their cheap bid had been accepted, they could have sold Lewis on for at least that same low figure they offered, probably more, even if he had hardly played!

Reality though is that Jamal Lewis would move somewhere for regular first team football (he has only made 25 top tier starts so far) this window and once again, it would be one of the ‘rest’ who would sign him, not Leicester or Wolves or the ‘big’ six.

I don’t know whether he will be a success but I hope so. I think he has a chance but I bet like me you can’t even remember him from last season, heartened more by the fact he will cost up to around £15m and the media talking about his potential, rather than what you have seen yourself.

It is quite amazing that media and a sizeable minority of Newcastle fans go so overboard when Mike Ashley does something that is normal for every other Premier League club. Trying to sign players who to greater or lesser degrees have shown they can do it in the English top tier already.

It is quite ironic that Mike Ashley can attract such over the top praise when at least in part it is due to the comparison of him insisting on the £40m+ signing of a striker a year ago, who’d had a best ever previous league season of scoring eight goals in the Austrian league.

Mike Ashley learning from his mistakes…hmmm. We’ve heard that one before and it is no more true now than it has ever been in the past.

At worst, if the injuries to Gayle, Dummett, Dubravka, Clark, Shelvey and others hadn’t piled up, maybe Mike Ashley wouldn’t have allowed any credible signings or money to be spent.

At best, the NUFC owner has planned for this and gone for maximum impact in making all of the first team signings together and spending all of the money in a 24 hours period (on Lewis, Fraser and Wilson) so close to Premier League kick-off. Instead of bringing in key signings in positions where they were essential ASAP, choosing to wait and sacrifice the chance of proper preparation in return for the positive headlines of a supposed positive NUFC transfer window.

Bottom line I think is that Mike Ashley is desperate.

He desperately wants to keep the hope alive that the Saudis will come back and pay him the the price that is far more than the club is actually worth, something that won’t happen if Newcastle are deep in relegation trouble, or indeed already relegated.

Even Ashley realised what a mess he had created and how lucky Steve Bruce was last season.

Spending some Premier League level money on transfers and wages for the likes of Fraser, Wilson and Lewis had to happen, to give a reasonable chance of staying up this season.

This isn’t progressive from Mike Ashley and / or a brilliant transfer window for Newcastle United.

It could well prove a decent transfer window for NUFC but for Ashley it is all about self-preservation and protecting his asset, with the minimum amount of spend he thinks he can still get away with.

This season is still looking a massive gamble for Mike Ashley but at least he has improved the odds to a certain degree.

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