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Just dawned on me what February Newcastle United team would have been if Mike Ashley still here

5 months ago

Mike Ashley continues to haunt us.

We all look forward to the day when his name no longer is mentioned.

However, I’m afraid that for who knows how long more, the name of Mike Ashley will continue to be uttered in connection with Newcastle United.

For starters, the former owner has launched a legal action against Amanda Staveley.

The Mike Ashley case appearing to revolve around claims from him, that he’d forced agreement to be made in a legal document with Ms Staveley, that trampy Sports Direct branding would continue at St James Park after his departure AND that there would be zero comments at all from the new ownership, that in any way pointed out the woeful, shameful, neglectful, self-serving way he (Mike Ashley) had ran Newcastle United over the course of 14+ years.

Of course, it doesn’t stop there.

If Newcastle do get relegated this season, then make no mistake, this will 100% be a third Mike Ashley relegation in the 13 PL seasons he has been responsible for.

The state that he (with the help of his latest patsy / stooge Steve Bruce) left the playing side in, was a shambles.

Since the summer 2020 transfer window, Mike Ashley only allowed one more first team player to be signing in the next year and a half, that one player being Joe Willock. Instead of making the numerous essential signings, Ashley and Bruce handed out numerous, often long-term (some for five and six years!), new contracts to a host of existing players who aren’t Premier League starting first eleven standard, or in a lot of cases, PL standard in any shape or form.

This has left Eddie Howe and the new Newcastle United owners with a massive task even to just keep NUFC up this season, never mind start the booster rockets to take the club back into a competitive position towards the right end of the table.

When we reach tomorrow (Thursday 3 February 2022) it will complete 17 weeks for the new Newcastle United owners in charge, with them hitting this January window after only weeks in place and a monumental task in hand.

When the January window kicked off, Eddie Howe had only eight Premier League matches behind so far with Newcastle, but along with the owners some urgent decisions and work on the agenda.

Here we are now in February, four points from a possible six picked up in January, which would have been a full six from six if not for the calamitous defending from Almiron and Lascelles in the 88th minute of the Watford match.

We are also now looking forward to this Newcastle team (or one very much like it) taking on Everton in six days time:

Dubravka, Trippier, Schar, Burn, Targett, Shelvey, Guimaraes, Joelinton, Fraser, Saint-Maximin, Wood

Make no mistake, if Mike Ashley had remained, Newcastle United would already be relegated by this point. Maybe not mathematically so, but in reality, getting relegated and no chance of staying up.

Ashley had made absolutely clear that he was done with Newcastle United, that if we were floating towards yet another lethal iceberg marked ‘relegation’, he wouldn’t be doing anything about it.

No significant transfer action (by Mike Ashley standards) in January 2022, unlike the case in January 2013 (when Newcastle ended up surviving) and January 2016 (when Newcastle still went down).

It had become crystal clear since summer 2020 that if Newcastle United were going to be relegated, then so be it. Mike Ashley would take that and then bank the parachute payments, sell the likes of Allan Saint-Maximin and anybody else who would raise significant funds, then for sure (in his mind) get instantly promoted again, as had been the case in 2009/10 and 2016/17. Back to worldwide promotion of Sports Direct via the Premier League TV deals AND waiting for a fourth relegation to come around.

I honestly think we would have seen very little, if no, transfer activity in January 2022 if Mike Ashley was still here and Newcastle staring relegation in the face. Having said that, it wouldn’t have surprised me that if Ashley had accepted relegation was inevitable, he may well have sold ASM now (January 2022) if a decent offer had come in. As for incoming, the best we could have hoped for, was Hamza Choudhury coming in on loan at the third or fourth attempt of trying in a transfer window.

Thinking about it, I also wouldn’t have then been surprised if Mike Ashley had also looked to sell the likes of Fabian Schar in January 2022, with the Swiss international’s contract up at the end of June 2022.

If you don’t believe me, look back to January 2009 and Mike Ashley’s first relegation, he insisted on a profit in that mid-season transfer window, Shay Given and Charles N’Zogbia sold, with less than half that money allowed to be reinvested in Kevin Nolan and Ryan Taylor.

So, we could well have been looking at this Newcastle team v Everton next week, if Mike Ashley was still here:

Dubravka, Manquillo, Lascelles, Clark, Ritchie, Shelvey, Choudhury, Sean Longstaff, Joelinton, Fraser, Gayle

Just let that sink in.

Looking on the bright side, at least we would have a Championship ready side!


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