Thru Black and White Eyes

THRU BLACK & WHITE EYES –  Winter of Discontent – 3/Dec/17

by • December 3, 2017 • TBAWEComments (10)1225



After a decent start to the season, reality is starting to bite. We are in a relegation battle and it will take all of Rafa’s skills as an elite coach and our support for the team to stay in the division. If anyone is looking for someone to pour bile onto, then that man is Mike Ashley. No-one else and certainly not Rafa Benitez or any of the players.

There are players at United who frankly should have been moved on in the summer with warm thanks for a job done. Unfortunately, Mike Ashley betrayed Rafa and put his own interests ahead of the club and we are where we are. Those players had to be retained because deals would not be sanctioned for upgrades.

Who really thinks Diame, Perez, Mitrovich are players Rafa seriously considers as players he can build a competitive PL team around? Who thinks Rafa got excited at the prospect of working with Manquillo, Joselu and others? These were what Rafa was left to pick from the unwanted bargain bin of football. His budget was set by Ashley. It was controlled by his man Justin Barnes who spent the summer blocking deals and carrying out the instructions of his boss – Mike Ashley.

We heard this last week Rafa set out clearly that Newcastle United could not compete on fees or wages offered by Huddersfield and Brighton as well as Burnley. Previously we scorned Alan Pardew for candidly admitting he could not compete with Southampton or Swansea. This is all the trajectory United has been on with Ashley. The man has degraded our club for his own purposes. This isn’t even an argument any more.

We are now in the midst of a take-over that may or may not proceed. Every bit of information I have had suggests Due Diligence has been completed. A light has been shone into every nook and cranny of United’s finances and offers have been made. An offer has been made which is fair for the current value of Newcastle United FC. The Ashley-side now claim there is other interest in United who are prepared to offer more for the club and are currently going through the books. I don’t believe that. I don’t believe deals of this type can be initiated without leaks about who is interested. I don’t believe in unknown parties offering a massive sum more than what the value of the club is worth. In my opinion it is a further example of Ashley’s tenuous relationship with the truth.

Teams of financiers and lawyers have to be employed and I’m pretty certain they will be from the UK. That information would leak from the financial sector in particular. I believe the Ashley side is lying and the purpose is to squeeze more out of Amanda Staveley’s side. I understand Ashley is a businessman and there is nothing that matters more to him than profit no matter how he gets it.

The current stalemate in the takeover deal reminds me strongly of how Ashley operates in the big money sales of players, namely Andy Carroll and Moussa Sissoko. In both cases fees were gained for those players (not that mattered to United of course) way out of expectation with what might have been regarded as their true value. Since both players left neither has suggested their buying clubs got value-for-money and the winner is seen as Ashley. That is where I believe we are with Ashley. Ashley must believe Staveley is desperate to buy but as we slip further down the table and the weaknesses of our playing staff is exposed, our potential new owners could be forgiven for thinking the better of it and waiting until the end of the season. There is a chance we might not be a PL team then of course and my expectation in that scenario is Rafa would walk out. After that, I’d be less optimistic of Ashley pulling off another instant return to the PL or of we supporters sticking around to bear witness to more of his abysmal stewardship of our club.

If Ashley feels he can get more for United, it can only be as a PL club. To remain as a PL club he will have to release significant funds in January to buy the players that should have been procured in the summer. There is no good-looking deal like Tammy Abrahams available so Ashley will be over a barrel. We need a quality goalie, full-backs and attacking talent. I can’t see that happening and I can guess at Ashley once again gambling again with the club’s future.

The question then is what do we do? The supporters who fill the place week after week and are the envy of the PL?

It’s difficult because we know so little about the funds behind Staveley. That remains the big mystery despite what is mere speculation in some parts of the media about money coming from Saudi, Dubai, India, the US and China (pretty much covering all of the options there). This isn’t like the late 80s when we all knew about John Hall and the ancient regime of Gordon McKeag he wanted to topple. Hall’s hyperbole captured our imagination and for better or worse (probably better) took the club over and with KK moved us into a different era (for a very, very short period). We know nothing about the people and money behind Staveley. We get delicious snippets of Man City levels of riches but nothing is confirmed. This could be more like Vincent Tan at Cardiff. We just don’t know.

But we do know all about Mike Ashley and I don’t think I can personally continue following his Zombie club should the takeover fail to materialise and/or Rafa walks at the end of the season or is so diminished and disheartened by the whole thing loses his mojo – always a possibility with Ashley’s death grip on the club.

We need to make Ashley aware of the consequences of believing he can gamble with the takeover, gamble with PL survival and Rafa as manager … and with our continued support.

I can’t see myself continuing to go to games if the worst happens. I won’t be alone but ideally there should be a concerted campaign of cancelled Direct Debits for season tickets and a ramping up of protests to make Ashley’s ownership untenable.

I have absolutely no confidence in our support behaving like that however. It is far too fractured and contrary a support for that to happen. There is no supporters’ group that has the groundswell of support and frankly as a group of supporters we lack the energy and vision that might make us a formidable force to be reckoned with. I accept as a support, we completely lack any form of leadership. We are lacking so much in being good watchmen of our club.

There might be some reading this who do not recognise this as any part of being a supporter. Who am I to lecture them? The likes of me grow ever more like an anachronism with every passing season.

Football for modern supporters appears to be less about being fully engaged with the clubs we support and more about a day on the beer and taking loads of selfies, on-phone betting, fantasy football and FIFA whateveritis. More people are watching football, supporting clubs than ever before but its transition from being the preserve of the zealot to a mainstream area of the entertainment industry with supporters hanging on the words of pundits and having their heads filled with pointless stats and SOCCER AM banter (yuk) is almost 100% complete. Insert your “Yer Da” moronic social media put-down here.

A lot fewer people followed Newcastle United (and all of our clubs) in the era pre-SKY and the PL but they did so with more intensity and commitment than the audiences at home and in stadiums. Newcastle United is absolutely no different.

I was chatting to a Mag of my acquaintance some weeks ago and we were reminiscing of the intensity of THAT Portsmouth game in 1992. There was a crowd of 25,989 at SJP that day and those present will fondly recall the explosion of joy that greeted Kelly’s famous goal. But there was something equally memorable about that game and it was the love for the club in the stands, the passion from every corner of the ground and the backing to every player in a Black & White shirt. That attendance is half of what we get now but it had a much better level of support than anything we’ve seen in recent years (with the exception of the love-in for Rafa at the end of the 15/16 season when we took Spurs apart after relegation).

Rafa talks constantly of the need for unity between players and supporters. Surely this is so obvious it should not need totrue faith 134 - latest free issue. Read it Here. be said but it does. We are entitled to our opinions and the digital world has super-charged our ability to give them. Some of the stuff I read on social media targeted to our own players is frankly shameful and embarrassing. I don’t want to share any kind of space with these people. I wonder if it will be those nuggets who drive me and many others away from Newcastle United before Ashley does. They are thick, crude and cowardly. Abuse is not an opinion and near is booing at the match. None of it serves any purpose and is the braying of morons.

So, I don’t expect any concerted effort to bring pressure to bear against Ashley and move him out of the club. We don’t have the heads or hearts for that – we’re no different to any club anywhere bar perhaps one or two exceptions in the UK.

That’s not to say a barren January transfer window and a failed takeover won’t leave a completely toxic atmosphere at United.

The club is at another one of many cross-roads. Deadline hour is fast approaching and these next few weeks could be the most pivotal in the club’s recent history. Supporters need hope. Ashley offers none of that. God knows where Newcastle United is going if the takeover doesn’t happen.

Ashley Out!

Keep On, Keepin’ On …

Michael Martin – Follow Michael on @tfMichael1892


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10 Responses to THRU BLACK & WHITE EYES –  Winter of Discontent – 3/Dec/17

  1. Peter Ward says:

    A paen of despair Michael but what else awaits if Ashley refuses to be realistic. He just wants a big profit so he can walk away and rubbish the club and it’s supporters when boozing with his cronies. I think Benitez won’t put up with this **** if nothing materializes and he’ll be gone. If the current criticism of Benitez increases much then Ashley might think he can get rid of him without any consequences. Nobody is above criticism but the state the club is in is down to one man and that is Ashley. I don’t care if some of Benitez selections are questionable all roads lead back to Ashley.
    I agree with you about the mystery of who might come out of the woodwork if the bid suceeds. There are risks aplenty but we have to get rid of Ashley. He’s been here ten years too many already. I never supported him soon after he arrived, when the stories started emerging about Shirebrook and found out more about him and his general behaviour. Talk about dragging the club through the mud. Can this nightmare ever end?

  2. Kenny says:

    Ashley may get a bit jumpey if we get nowt in up coming home games v Leicester city & everton, every chance to as both teams have more than us.
    As for doing nowt, is it behind people to just stand up & chant for a bit, if a few do it long enough then more would follow, maybe even you & your mates Michael !

  3. Dave says:

    Let’s be honest, we all dream of being able to do what Citeh have done since they won the lottery (who wouldn’t) but sadly flirting with relegation every season doesn’t seem to bother the FCB. I hope I outlive the fat bastard so I can piss, shit & spit on his grave along with thousands of other like minded Geordies. If the takeover happens I’m optimistic as no one can be worse than that parasite. If it falls thru for whatever reason, & the fat leech is still the owner, I fear for us as a club over the longer term.

  4. Tomb says:

    We can’t compete on wages not sure about that we had players in the championship on wages ten times that of Huddersfield first teamers. Net spend has been low but we had the most expensive squad in the championship last season and are not even in the bottom 3 spenders this time. Net spend again low but so is Evertons fter selling Luakaku. The squad is poor but should be strong enough to survive

  5. Tomb says:

    You are spot on about the modern day supporter. Calling Ashley names on the internet but still buy season tickets from him year after year to keep him here. Newcastle fans used to have a reputation for standing up for their club but there is just a passive acceptance of the state of affairs now. As you say maybe people don’t care and just want to stick a video from level 7 on you tube to show off the ‘atmosphere. Hope the takeover happens or we are stuck as a zombie club.

  6. Alan says:

    canny enough article Michael, with exception of the snippet below taken from one of the later paragraphs…

    ‘Hall’s hyperbole captured our imagination and for better or worse (probably better) took the club over and with KK moved us into a different era (for a very, very short period).’

    I believe us to he of a similar age Mr Martin and I honestly believe you need to address your bitterness towards Hall and the many other examples you’ve levelled at the late Freddie Shepherd in the past.
    In case you need reminding during the above men’s tenureship of the club we enjoyed (albeit ending ultimately in glorious failure) two, arguably three realistic chances of being champions of England.
    Visits to some of the finest cities and stadiums in Europe as Champions league participants.
    Several visits to Wembley, a UEFA cup semi final. World record signings. The modernisation of SJP in to one of the finest grounds in the country. Even the justifiably lamented Souness took us to a FA cup semi final and UEFA cup quarter final!
    Barring a miracle and before the black void of nothing comes calling for you I’d strongly suggest you learn to embrace those times as your halcyon days as a Newcastle supporter, because they’re not happening again any time soon.

    Just a thought!

  7. orrickee says:

    Mick’s a big lad & can speak for himself but I think his bitterness towards the Hall family relates to the substantial sums of money they made whilst in charge of the club & when they sold us (out) to Ashley. For example, can anyone explain exactly what Douglas Hall actually did for his salary?? But the football was in a different universe from what we saw before or since.
    I do worry that Ashley’s greed will fuck this takeover up mind. He’s greedy enough to hold out for more than Staveley is willing to pay & she might just tell him to stick the deal up his big fat arse.

  8. Mike Dixon says:

    i fear the worst. nothing happening takeover, nothing in Jan. Rafa walking and we either go down or end up scraping to stay up. but if 50k keep going then its our fault. just look at Mackems we could go the same way

  9. Tomb says:

    We avoided going the same way as Sunderland by (ignoring net spend for a moment here) spending a large amount of money at that level for the likes of Ritchie and Gayle. Quality second division players. As a result we had the best squad in the division. Because Sunlun had no saleable assets they have signed zero players of quality and as a result are at the bottom. Frustratingly Ashley will spend to ensure the squad is good enough, in his mind, to ensure Pl status. This is why he spends in the championship or if we are struggling in January, but not at the start of a PL season and not if we are comfortable mid season. He has no interest in success barring PL survival which is why we never have and never will get anywhere under his watch but also in my opinion would not ‘do a Sunderland ‘

  10. It is like a never-ending circle and we keep returning to the same point. If Ashley does not go, it is down to all of us to get rid of him. Always has been and still is. Like Michael I doubt the conviction of sufficient numbers to stand up and be counted for the sake of their club. We are reaping the rewards (!) of failing to keep up the pressure on him and falling for all of his PR tricks. I try to console myself that thousands of us have boycotted and the fight is still there in many, many people. But that still leaves those choosing to continue attending the games,however well-intended their aims, Ashley is playing them for fools for his own purposes. If he does not go then once again the responsibility falls on us. The only way to fight Ashley is to match his stubbornness and single-mindedness and as it is our club, we should win that fight. We might need all those boycotting to come out and fight a final battle for the soul of the club. But that means giving them some belief that others are now ready for that battle.

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