Mike Ashley: Better the devil you know?

With promotion as champions secured, Newcastle fans finally got the news they craved on  Wednesday: Rafa Benitez is staying on Tyneside after successful talks with Mike Ashley.  As good news is often rare with the Sports Direct owner at the helm, has he finally learned from his mistakes?

Ashley’s calamitous history at NUFC

After arriving to much optimism and bringing an end to the Freddy Shepherd era, Ashley’s arrival gave us a lot of hope initially. However, the days of sinking pints in the away end with fans quickly evaporated as Ashley began a series of truly bizarre mistakes, seemingly navigating from one disaster to another.

Hiring fan favourite Kevin Keegan to only undermine and drive him out was soon followed by appointing Joe Kinnear as Director of football. Even St James’ was re-branded as the Sports Direct Arena, a buy them cheap and sell they high transfer policy introduced and another local hero, Alan Shearer, mistreated following our first relegation in a near 25 years. Popular manager Chris Houghton was given the boot and another relegation sealed last season. A tenure of pantomime and ridicule has been endured by Newcastle fans, who rightly, doubt Ashley is capable of instilling success at a football club. 10 years has seen a 5th placed finish but two relegations.

 



A new found determination?

Ashley gave a rare interview at the end of the 2014/5 season after NUFC stayed up by the skin of their teeth. He famously declared he would not leave the club until the won a trophy or finished in the top 4. It was this ambition that fans have craved, with the previous mistakes appearing to point to Ashley wanting to use the club to promote his other business interests.

To be fair to Ashley, he followed up his side of the bargain in the 15/16 season. He stepped away from making football decisions directly after clearly being under qualified to do as outlined above. He invested £55m on new players, one of the biggest highest spends in Europe that season. The season was of course a disaster as we were relegated but it was Ashley’s choice as Lee Charnley as MD that was to blame this time. Putting faith in others was the right thing to do but placing it in  Charnley was his latest mistake. Charnley hired Steve McClaren, who plundered the transfer money given to him and somehow managed to send us down into the Championship.

Although relegated last year, it was the first time Ashley was not solely to blame. He then backed the club financially to return to the top flight. As owner it is ultimately his fault we have been relegated twice but he does appear to be becoming more determined to succeed. Hiring and keeping Rafa has reinforced this.

Be careful what you wish for?

There is no doubt Newcastle fans have endured more misery than most during the Ashley era. Even recently, news of the tax probe days after celebrating promotion is typical Newcastle. It is hard not to look at Manchester City and Chelsea and wonder why we got this billionaire owner instead.

However, for every Chelsea, there are clubs like Leeds United, Aston Villa, Birmingham and arguably Sunderland who have been put in far worse positions by their owners. NUFC are on a far better financial base than when Ashley bought the club, which we do have to be grateful for when you look at the mess at cubs like Glasgow Rangers. There are certainly owners who have done more damage to English football than Ashley. Our season in the Championship was a tour of some really poorly run clubs; Blackburn Rovers and Nottingham Forest being prime examples.

The future – can Mike finally get it right?

Ashley has clearly made mistakes and massive ones at that. He has however, showed signs of learning from them. He has learned on the job, which although frustrating that someone so incompetent bought us in the first place, he is showing signs of a brighter future ahead.

He has stabilised the club financially and stepped back from football decisions. He is also finally beginning to invest money in the club, which will only be strengthened by the new TV deal. Ashley has also finally appointed a truly world class manager in Rafa Benitez. We are back in the Premiership but for the first time since he bought the club arguably, with genuine hope. Let’s hope it continues.

 

About Simon Riddlesden

Lifelong Newcastle United fan and East Stand season ticket holder. Observations from a supporter who has followed NUFC during Champions League participation and through relegation, taking me from Milan to Scunthorpe.

86 thoughts on “Mike Ashley: Better the devil you know?

  1. Thanks Simon, yes I think we can cut Ashley a little slack now. Let’s see him put his money where his mouth is this summer. If we can kick off with a happy Rafa in place then I think there will be peace in our tyne, pardon the pun.

      (Quote)

  2. Thanks as always for reading…yeah I totally agree. Nice to feel positive for once isn’t it!

      (Quote)

  3. If he just keeps out the way and lets the people who no about football do there job and keep his promise about the funds available we will be okay for the future trust raffa he knows his onions

      (Quote)

  4. I read from chronicle that Rafa wants to bring in two forwards. That means Mitro will leave, for sure.

    Also for Mangala. We can bring him on loan next season. I know his salary is high but still it is a good bargain. Rafa liked him a lot. He wanted to buy him when he was in Napoli. I think Mangala will become one of our players next season.

      (Quote)

  5. Have we and many other clubs ever had good owners? I’m going back to the days of Lord Westwood and Stan Seymour at NUFC. So far Ashley does seem to be putting money in and not taking it out. In the the long run, if we ever get to make big profits I would have no objections to Ashley taking some cash back also providing we have a successful team well established in the Premiership. Here’s hoping.

      (Quote)

  6. As much I decried the decision to appoint McLaren he was NOT responsible for the signings in 2015 that was down to Carr.
    Carr needs to go!!

      (Quote)

  7. TonyGreenSupreme:
    As much I decried the decision to appoint McLaren he was NOT responsible for the signings in 2015 that was down to Carr.
    Carr needs to go!!

    I’ve been saying that from season start,he a bloody back stabber too.
    Great to see you back on

      (Quote)

  8. Shamrock:
    I agree with you two. Time he went.

    Great that there was no sign of him when the meeting was held there was only jabba,Penfold and Rafa,Ime hoping he’s on the way out,has jabba twigged him at last??

      (Quote)

  9. “I’ve confirmed to Rafa and Lee that they can have every last penny that the club generates through promotion, player sales and other means in order to build for next season”

    Above is what is commonly reported as Ashley’s support of Benitez and it raises a couple of questions. What do we get for promotion? Can anyone suggest what ‘other means’ could be.

    The positivity is great to feel ans hopefully Benitez will be allowed to work through the summer to build the team again with a view to comfortably avoid relegation next season

      (Quote)

  10. Was reading earlier that Andre Grays contract is up next summer & Burnley are thinking of cashing as they don’t think they can afford his wages – he’s only on £35k just now.

    He’s only 25 now and scored 10 in 34 this season – 32 in 71 in total for Burnley.

    I reckon if we could get him for £12-15m he’d be a decent buy like.

      (Quote)

  11. Sharpy I almost mentioned him earlier. Not much to chose between him and Callum Wilson in my opinion.

      (Quote)

  12. Shamrock:
    Sharpy I almost mentioned him earlier. Not much to chose between him and Callum Wilson in my opinion.

    Sham – I wouldn’t mind either in place of Murphy or Mitrovic personally. Both have shown they can score in the PL in not great teams. Wilsons injuries worry me a bit, esp with Gayle being a sick note too.

      (Quote)

  13. So well done Chelsea, normal service resumed in the PREM with a cash rich club winning. Don’t ever see a Leicester happening again anytime soon.

      (Quote)

  14. Lee Ryder‏Verified account
    @lee_ryder

     Follow

     More

    Newcastle United will net £95million jackpot after returning to Premier League

      (Quote)

  15. Nice bit of analysis Simon. I agree things are looking up for a change.
    I, like many fans, were worrying about the proposed transfer spend. £70m mentioned a couple of weeks ago seemed unimaginably high then I remembered just two years ago when Ash actually gave McClaren £80m (alright, Carr probably spent it). So with money being much higher in the PL now, then £100m seems achievable. After all the parachute payment next season is a staggering £71m!

    Sham – I saw your list. Please no more sicknotes. You’ll be wanting De Jong back next 😆
    Charlie – Jansson is a tall strong, determined CB. He’s very quick too. Swedish.
    Him and Mbemba/Clark would be good.

      (Quote)

  16. Hull and Swansea have a very good chance of dragging Palace into the relegation battle this weekend.

      (Quote)

  17. shamrock:
    Hull and Swansea have a very good chance of dragging Palace into the relegation battle this weekend.

    Icing on the cake that Sham. I saw a load of tweets from Palace fans mocking Brighton when we pip them to the title. Saying stuff like we are brothers in arms cause we both hate Pards and how we stuffed Brighton and the like. Where they get that we hate brighton from I do not know, anyway I would love to see them drop and I’m sure Hoots lot would too.

      (Quote)

  18. Just watching the City v Leicester game and while Leicester have some good players – what is clear is they have players who work their socks off.
    They fear no team & even at 2-0 down, their heads didn’t drop & their work rate remained the same.

    That’s what Rafa will need to work on as much as anything else this summer.

      (Quote)

  19. Yes Sharpy. Work ethic goes a long way. It was so frustrating watching players mope around last season and the year before.

      (Quote)

  20. UUrrrghhh.

    Now Golum seems to know what he is doing. He is not Desperate Dave anymore.

    Still losing though 🙂

      (Quote)

  21. Jay Rod has scored a cracking goal for Saints today. I’d defo have him on the left side of our attack.

      (Quote)

  22. Is that plane still flying over ? wouldn’t of bothered with it personally , just raise the charity money, that’s all we should of done, more classy less tacky.

      (Quote)

  23. kimtoon:
    Is that plane stillflying over ? wouldn’t of bothered with it personally , just raise the charity money, that’s all we should of done, more classyless tacky.

    Kim – there’s no bugger in the stadium to see it by the looks of it!!!

      (Quote)

  24. kimtoon:
    Is that plane stillflying over ? wouldn’t of bothered with it personally , just raise the charity money, that’s all we should of done, more classyless tacky.

    I was wondering that too… watching the mackems match upon tv and I didn’t see anything… but I missed the first 15 mins. Commentators didn’t say anything either. Swans win 2-0. 😂😂

      (Quote)

  25. Redmond scored a corker today for Saints. I’d have him in our team, but cannot see Saints selling…

      (Quote)

  26. Dubai Toon: I was wondering that too… watching the mackems match upon tv and I didn’t see anything… but I missed the first 15 mins. Commentators didn’t say anything either. Swans win 2-0.

    reckon they cancelled it, lets hope so anyway.

      (Quote)

  27. Just reading on newsnow, it did fly over, must’ve been early in the first half. Saw video of it, but apparently little Bradley’s family were fully supportive and saw it as a good gesture. Raised over 5K too for the kids…

      (Quote)

  28. Dubai Toon:
    Just reading on newsnow, it did fly over, must’ve been early in the first half. Saw video of it, but apparently little Bradley’s family were fully supportive and saw it as a good gesture. Raised over 5K too for the kids…

    What did it say mate ?

      (Quote)

  29. Kim I dont think the banner was classy at all. You don’t make a gesture about people suffering with a nasty disease and at the same time have a dig about football and try to Lord it over the opposition.

    It’s the same as saying; ‘look at me, I have so much so much more class than you and am superior to you’. Bullshit. Even worse than what they did imo.

      (Quote)

  30. kimtoon:
    Plus it’s the wrong way round, should read , divided by leagues united by cancer.

    That’s exactly what I thought too, I actually preferred the option where they had the inititials of the 3 kids and then .. cancer has no colours… no dig at mackems at all which I personally preferred.

    On Defoe, my financial advisor here in Dubai is a Brit and she tells me she is a personal friend of Defoe. She claims that he wants to go back to West Ham which I guess sounds plausible. Let’s see… I think we can do better to be honest.

      (Quote)

  31. shamrock:
    Kim I dont think the banner was classy at all. You don’t make a gesture about people suffering with a nasty disease and at the same time have a dig about football and try to Lord it over the opposition.

    It’s the same as saying; ‘look at me, I have so much so much more class than you and am superior to you’. Bullshit. Even worse than what they did imo.

    Exactly mate

      (Quote)

  32. shamrock:
    Kim I dont think the banner was classy at all. You don’t make a gesture about people suffering with a nasty disease and at the same time have a dig about football and try to Lord it over the opposition.

    It’s the same as saying; ‘look at me, I have so much so much more class than you and am superior to you’. Bullshit. Even worse than what they did imo.

    I don’t think it was ever designed to be classy. The people behind the organising of it originally had a banner having a pop at the mackems because of theirs last season.
    After numerous people suggested the fund raising be used for the kids cancer charities, they changed the banner to read how it did – and I believe had the initials of Bradley & a couple of Newcastle supporting kids suffering with cancer too.

    There’s nowt classy about flying banners over stadiums, but let’s not miss the fact that this raised around £5k for the charities.

      (Quote)

  33. I mentioned the other day how Villa massively overspent this season (way more than us) – and yet we got criticised for not winning the league fast enough whilst the press said nothing about Villa’s spending or awful league performance.

    Well now their owner has come out and said they are in financial difficulty as a result and they have NO money to spend unless achieved though sales in the next season. Ouch. Villa are going to stay down for a while imo.

      (Quote)

  34. shamrock:
    I mentioned the other day how Villa massively overspent this season (way more than us) – and yet we got criticised for not winning the league fast enough whilst the press said nothing about Villa’s spending or awful league performance.

    Well now their owner has come out and said they are in financial difficulty as a result and they have NO money to spend unless achieved though sales in the next season. Ouch. Villa are going to stay down for a while imo.

    The problem is that they don’t really have any star players to sell to generate decent funds… maybe we could give them a few quid for Jack Grealish though… 😂

      (Quote)

  35. Yeah Maguire is the only one really.

    Dubai I think they will struggle to make the playoffs again.

      (Quote)

  36. I shared a stat earlier in the week that on average 2/3rds of promoted teams stay up. Not this year though, but we will stay up. My early prediction for relegation next year is:

    The playoff winner
    Swansea
    Watford

    Promotion

    Leeds
    Villa
    Boro

      (Quote)

  37. Maguire & Andy Robertson the LB – but there is talk he’s already agreed to join Lpool.
    I like Ryan Mason as well, but I don’t know how he’ll come back from that head injury. He was a tidy offensive midfielder though.

      (Quote)

  38. I think it’s only right Hull went down. The owners have been a joke & Silva has done brilliantly to get them this close.

    Fat Sam will be lorded up again for keeping a club up – but with that squad they should have been mathematically safe long before now. But he’ll bag another couple of million bonus money for keeping Palace up.

      (Quote)

  39. Here we go then Troysta. Pardew had the worst record in 2016 of ALL football league teams. Not just the PL. ALL football league teams.

    Pardew’s record this season:

    Won 4
    Drawn 3
    Lost 10

    Toad of Toad Hall, with pretty much the same players:

    Won 8
    Drawn 2
    Lost 10

    Are you still going to tell me Arrogant Alan was an AVERAGE premier league manager.

      (Quote)

  40. Sharpy: Townsend supposedly has another buyout clause in his contract. I think it is 50/50 that we can get him as his Agent would like another commission.

    It is good work if you can get it. If he makes 10% on the sales that would be 1.4 million from Spurs to us, then another 1.3 million from us to Palace and then 1.5 million from Palace back to us.

      (Quote)

  41. Townsend will stay where he is. It’s LONDON after all . . . Don’t want him myself . . . deserted when we went down to “further his career”. Deserted after 6 months!

    See the Chron are filling up pages with improbable links from all over the place. Today it’s £38m for Sumedo and Desstro from Italy.
    My feeling is Rafa’s already decided who he wants and has left the early work to Charnley and perhaps Carr, while he has a break. Well earned too.

      (Quote)

  42. Well, this week is National Police Week in the USA, USA, USA.

    I am not kidding. They/we have a “National Police Week”.

      (Quote)

  43. I promise I am not making this up. Next Saturday is “Waitstaff Day”

    Then on June 3rd we have:

    “Insect Repellant Awareness Day”

    And, course, June 9th has to be:

    “Donald Duck Day”.

    I am not making this up!!!

      (Quote)

  44. Eric Sykes:
    I promise I am not making this up. Next Saturday is “Waitstaff Day”

    Then on June 3rd we have:

    “Insect Repellant Awareness Day”

    And, course, June 9th has to be:

    “Donald Duck Day”.

    I am not making this up!!!

    Eric – I’m Donald ducked most days to be honest 😂

      (Quote)

  45. Have we got our new shirt design yet with the new sponsors on?. Aren’t they usually out by now?.

      (Quote)

  46. Sharpy: they had a picture of the 125th anniversary badge but I haven’t seen the shirt yet. Uncle Ed is usually all over that sort of thing so we just have to check newsnow.

      (Quote)

  47. I can’t see Bilic surviving this.

    Did I ever mention that I hate West Ham 🙂 I think that Booby Moore should get a posthumous knighthood, but what I object to is the sanctimonious football writers and politicians who suck West Ham’s dick calling for it.

      (Quote)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Question   Razz  Sad   Evil  Exclaim  Smile  Redface  Biggrin  Surprised  Eek   Confused   Cool  LOL   Mad   Twisted  Rolleyes   Wink  Idea  Arrow  Neutral  Cry   Mr. Green