Four defeats on the spin, struggling to score goals and dropping down the league. However long our honeymoon return to the Premier League was we can say right here and right now that it is well and truly over. We have two games this coming week at the very different situations of West Brom and Chelsea with both matches away from home. The tough times are here and if anyone was under any illusions about our task in hand it is to stay in the Premier League. Nothing else. Right now we need an FA Cup run like a hole in the head. That’s a terrible conclusion for a supporter to make but sadly it is the stone cold rational one.
We were terrible against Watford. On the strength of that game, not a single United player would get in the Hornets’ side. Not one. They were stronger, quicker, their passing and touch was better and they had more desire and more competitiveness. They were set up better and Silva had a better game plan than Rafa. It was probably the worst performance of Rafa’s reign to date but I hasten to add I don’t lay blame at the manager’s door for the worrying way the season is turning out. The culpability for the state we are in rests with Mike Ashley. This is where a decade of disinterest and under-investment has brought us.
The game is gone now and the talk after the match was all about the takeover.
My take on the negotiations is that we are in a game of poker between Ashley and Staveley. The seller might think he has time up until the end of the year to stick out and attempt to maximise the price he gets for the club. His problem is that with every defeat and the closer we get to the bottom three, the less attractive the club becomes to a prospective buyer. For Staveley, every defeat informs her of the investment needed in January to keep her new club on the Premier League gravy train. She can afford to wait and see how this rolls. The price of the club, its overall value is at the top of its arc right now … for me, the strength in the deal has moved to the buyer. Four defeats running with only one goal scored has not increased the value of Newcastle United and it has not reduced the money that will be needed to be spent in January.
Of course, we are dealing with Ashley. He is a man known to change his mind, who is difficult to predict and who is used to getting his own way in deals. I don’t imagine he will take any possibility of being cornered in any deal lightly. In football, we saw from his time at Rangers that he will always put his own interests ahead of the football club and I don’t imagine that will change with regards to Newcastle United. I pray Ashley thinks rationally about this, understands how the whole club on his watch could unravel. I don’t imagine for one second that Rafa would be keen on signing a long contract to remain as manager at an Ashley-owned Newcastle United and I’m not taken in for one second what he told the media last week about staying should the takeover collapse is in any way feasible.
We have seen in recent weeks how difficult it is for clubs in the PL with a lot more stability than United to appoint a good manager. West Ham has made the baffling decision to appoint David Moyes on the back of a triple failure in Manchester, Spain and in the Village of the Damned. That is because great managers can’t be found kicking a can down the street waiting for a job offer. I’m still incredulous that Alan Pardew’s name is still anywhere near the frame for the West Brom job whilst Everton is going to have to spend big to get Watford’s Silva to move from Vicarage Road to Goodison Park. I’m sure all three of those clubs would be delighted to appoint Rafa as manager. There will be other opportunities in future and I note the Keith Bishop planted news of a new deal for Benitez has faded from view completely. Rafa Benitez is not going to stick around being shafted on a regular basis by Mike Ashley. The question then would be, who would touch the manager’s job, post-Rafa with Ashley still at the helm? Don’t write in.
We all know now just how quickly a football club can implode when the right decisions for the football club aren’t made. Newcastle United has failed to fulfil its enormous potential because decisions have been made in the interests of private individuals and not for our club. That didn’t start with Mike Ashley of course. United has been poorly led since the late 1950s. Our club isn’t immune from crashing and burning. We’ve had lucky escapes in 2009 and 2016 when Ashley’s running of the club has led to two relegations and the loss of tens of millions in revenue. Sunderland’s plight is a source of rich amusement for us at the moment but none of us should be so smug not to think we are immune from a similar fate.
This is what I desperately hope Ashley realises. His personal interests are best served in taking the best offer Staveley makes. Unless he knows something we don’t or he’s so bitter, vain, greedy and narcissistic he turns down the deal because he thinks he is being bested by the other side.
We better hope he understands he will never have a better opportunity to sell United and remove himself from a responsibility he has never showed any capability or real desire to discharge correctly.
For his sake and ours, he should get this deal done.
Keep On, Keepin’ On …
Michael Martin. Follow Michael on @tfMichael1892
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