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Opinion

Is this deliberate sabotage at Newcastle United?

4 months ago
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You know, you have got to hand it to Mike Ashley at Newcastle United, he does have a knack of turning a positive into a negative VERY quickly.

A brief look at his 14 years as Newcastle United owner has seen numerous “watershed moments” where, had he had the club’s best interests at heart, would have been the time to kick on and build the club.

This could have been a happy marriage for both fans and club as well as Ashley himself but for some perverse reason, he fails to factor in the happiness of either of the three parties. A strange one.

Be it appointing fan favourite Kevin Keegan and immediately undermining him by giving other less qualified individuals (Dennis Wise and friends) final say on transfers.

Be it seeing Premier League stability after promotion from the Championship under Chris Hughton to sacking him soon after.

Or how about taking the euphoria of finishing fifth and not backing the manager of the time (Alan Pardew) with any net spend in summer 2012 to try and sustain such success.

How about bouncing back to the Premier League from relegation in 2016 and then giving Rafa Benitez a shoestring budget over the next two seasons to force mediocrity when the manager in question wanted progress?

Then in July 2019, he allowed Benitez’ contract to run out and replaced him with serial underachiever Steve Bruce.

Even on a more micro level you could level that buying Joelinton for £40m+ and not signing up Salomon Rondon for less than half that, purely on a whimsical and spiteful basis, was another moment of gross stupidity with little chance of success.

Tuesday morning’s revelations in The Times that Newcastle United haven’t inserted relegation clauses in player contracts, smacks of another act of said gross stupidity. So let’s just be clear, a club that has a history of just getting by in the Premier League and therefore by default risks relegation year on year, doesn’t protect itself against a potential financial meltdown?

I thought those that defend Ashley always told us that “He has the club on a sound financial footing?… I beg to argue that point. Losing the revenue of top flight football and an inevitable fire sale of players is just around the corner.

In short, this is a recipe for disaster. Deliberately stifling growth and having an official remit of just staying in the Premier League, as Steve Bruce actually told us was the case, is a worrying business model and strategy. Forget hiring a decent manager that would guarantee survival even on limited budgets as was the case with Benitez. No, let’s throw fortunes at rubbish managers with no discernible record in the game and pray that survival is achieved to repeat the cycle. No sensible business owner would do such a silly thing.

It’s exactly what happened when the club appointed Steve McClaren, gave him a fortune and hoped that the players in question keep the club in the league when everything suggests that the manager’s own lack of ability will drag whatever talent the players had down to his level and risk relegation. I suppose at least McClaren had some sort of CV unlike the nonentity we have at present.

Which brings me onto a serious question…Is this deliberate? Look at the factors in place and ask the following questions.

Why aim for simply surviving in the Premier League but insert no relegation clauses? It’s reckless to almost guarantee a Premier League level wage budget whilst in the second tier.

Why aim for Premier League survival constantly and appoint a Championship level manager to achieve such a target? Surely the latter risks failure of achieving the former?

None of this adds up unless it’s a deliberate gamble from Ashley or a deliberate aim for obvious failure.

I take little pleasure in being proved correct in stating BEFORE Bruce was appointed that his arrival would end in tears, I was far from alone, but the further we get into his tenure as manager and the more nonsense he comes out with and chaos he oversees, only makes a mockery of the appointment in the first place.

Far be it from me to advise a billionaire businessman what decision he should take but an astute one wouldn’t operate in the ways we see going on at this club. If you were to write a blueprint on gross negligence and deliberate sabotage, Mike Ashley’s running of Newcastle United would be textbook. Rank bad management doesn’t even begin to cover it.

Add in the fact that the manager appointed refuses to give the team the best chance of winning matches by not playing goal getters (Dwight Gayle and Andy Carroll) against relegation rivals and the club as a whole really have loaded their dice in favour of relegation. It’s amazing that the clubs below Newcastle are actually trying to survive and yet we are seemingly trying to fail. I suppose that’s a damning indictment on those below us.

On a more simplistic level, it would obviously pay dividends to sack Steve Bruce NOW and appoint pretty much anyone, just to pour cold water onto the fire that the idiotic owner has once again set alight at the club and that the buffoon in the dugout has merely added petrol to.

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