It is somewhat astonishing that with Newcastle United facing an uphill struggle to stay in the Premier League, Mike Ashley should start talking to the media about the club he owns.
To publicly admit he regrets ever buying the club at this point in the season when we all need to be fully behind the manager and his players is simply crass. To further follow that up with a statement about the club’s financial state and future prospects is completely ill-judged and will rightly cause anger and consternation amongst supporters.
It would appear Ashley is attempting to put some distance between himself and the failures of Newcastle United, claiming no knowledge of players being signed, teams being selected and all the rest of it. This is part of the fundamental problem of the club in a nutshell – that the man with the power is so disengaged and those he has appointed so utterly inadequate in their ability to be able to carry out the job required of them. If he is so aloof from the club’s operation, where is the strategy, the target setting and the burning ambition needed to focus everyone and keep them moving forward?
Ashley is responsible. He is the man who has made every strategic decision in the last nine years and they include the appointments of Mort, Llambias, Wise, Jimenez, Kinnear (x2), Carr, Charnley, Pardew and McClaren.
Ashley appears to be washing his hands of responsibility but it is his people working to his supervision who have made one bad call after another.
Somehow however, he may have at last made the right call in appointing Rafa Benitez but the Spaniard has to have the right environment around him. That will mean Mike Ashley intervening to dismiss both Graeme Carr and Lee Charnley in the summer. Those two have been responsible for squandering tens of millions of Newcastle United’s money and have to be held accountable. Their days should be numbered.
What Benitez requires is total control of every element of the club’s playing operation from the first team down to every part of an academy which is widely held in disregard. Benitez needs people on the executive side of United who are competent and with some status in the game. Mike Ashley has to make those moves to make that happen.
A PR exercise for a tarnished Sports Direct isn’t what United needs now. It is Mike Ashley committing 100% to Newcastle United or selling up and leaving.
Everything Ashley should be doing now should be to help Benitez. This latest stage-managed foray into the media doesn’t do that.
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