Mike Ashley – Actions Speak Louder Than Words
For those of you who have never read any of my articles before, I am usually pretty positive when it comes to Newcastle United. One aspect of the club that makes that opinion waiver is Mike Ashley.
I am sure most if not all of you have seen the interview he gave to Sky last Sunday. Ashley gave on-air apologies to Sam Allardyce, Kevin Keegan, Chris Hughton and Alan Shearer. That’s all well and good but he is treating Rafael Benitez in the same vein. The Newcastle owner said that he cannot compete with the likes of Manchester City, none of the fans expect the club to do so.
The timing of the interview I found rather puzzling, it should have been done before the transfer window open. There was so much speculation surrounding how much the club had to spend this summer. Some media were reporting that Rafael Benitez has over £100M to spend, while others suggested he had £70 – £100M. The problem with all the speculation is that it has led to fans questioning where all the money has gone. If the Ashley interview came out before the window opened, I don’t think fans would be as frustrated as they are now.
Mike Ashley is a very good businessman but that’s where it stops, he is not a good owner of a football club. The point that bothers a lot of fans, including myself is that Newcastle have fallen behind the likes of West Brom and Stoke during Ashley’s time at the club. Two relegations in 10 years have had a detrimental affect on the club’s stature. Before the arrival of Ashley Newcastle were considered to be in the top bracket of clubs in the Premier League.
Ashley is open to selling Newcastle but he is asking far too much for the club. It had been reported by the Telegraph in June that the Newcastle owner would be prepared to sell if someone met the £400M asking price:
Surely even Ashley realises that, that is an obscene amount for Newcastle United. If he reduced it to a reasonable asking price, I have no doubt in my mind that there would be plenty of interest in the club.
Ashley has the chance to redeem himself, if could just back Benitez properly – This fantastic club could go very far. He has done the hard bit in attracting a world class manager to the club, now he must back him. During Ashley’s interview he stated that he would not put any more of his own money into the club, his only option would be to sell some of his shares in Sports Direct. If he is not prepared to do that and see what he could achieve with Benitez at the helm, then for the good of the club he must stand aside.
Benitez can only do so much with the squad he has, while he has done some very shrewd business this summer, the need for further backing is vital. Benitez is adored by the fans and the feeling is clearly mutual. The Spaniard receives the sort of reception from the fans that very few previous managers have witnessed. Benitez understands what this club means to the fans, the likes of Alan Pardew and Steve McClaren never quite ‘got it’ up here.
If Ashley’s false promises drive Benitez out of the club, it would end in world war three. He would have a full scale riot on his hands. That is why it is vital that he does not continue to treat Benitez in the same vein as previous managers. I just cannot understand how Ashley doesn’t see the massive opportunity he has to learn from his mistakes and take this club forward.
Newcastle, in my opinion will not attract a better manager than Benitez. The importance of keeping him happy is paramount. The club simply can’t afford to go back to the days of Pardew. Benitez has united a fan base that had become disillusioned with the club, he has given us hope. The Spaniard has built a team that will give everything for the black and white shirt, which is all we ask for.
This window has been ridiculous in terms of prices, and Newcastle have done well with the players they have signed. If Ashley backs Benitez, even just a little more in the transfer window the Spaniard would be a lot less frustrated.
My eyes light up when I think about how far this club could go with an ambitious owner who is willing to back Benitez. Time will tell how things turn out, I just hope it doesn’t all end in tears yet again during the Ashley era.
Follow Graeme on twitter here