Almost like clockwork, Mike Ashley released another end of season statement which in reality, was pretty hollow. Nowhere near as committal as his previous ‘five year plans’ or stating he wasn’t leaving ‘until he had won a trophy’; perhaps the lack of intent in his latest PR exercise shows the level of apathy he has for running the club.
A sale wasn’t mentioned but there were a few parts of the statement that are worrying – including my unsettling theory behind the following comment…
“On many occasions throughout the season they have been described as a Championship side, which I personally consider to be derogatory.”
This was concerning part of the statement and addressing the accusation of the quality of the players felt unnecessary, unless Ashley intends to use it as an excuse to once again not invest. Rafa working miracles will, knowing Ashely, allow him to use a 10th place finish to paint the narrative that we have a strong squad and only a few new faces.
Anyone within football knows our squad is strong in character but not quality and being guided by a world class manager has allowed us to overachieve. We need serious investment to build on a rare, positive season under Ashley.
The ‘pantomime villain’ promises “every penny generated” for Benitez
Sunday’s statement included the following: “Rafa, as always, has my full support, and, contrary to some media reports that portray me as a pantomime villain, I will continue to ensure that every penny generated by the club is available to him.”
Just 12 months ago this was the statement published on the club’s website and attributed to Ashley following face-to-face discussions with Benitez: “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.”
It is nothing new and Ashley didn’t invest last year, expect some loan deals in January. The usual excuses of the amount of fees spent on agents and not having felt the affect of the TV money were wheeled out but there will be no hiding place this summer. Rafa and the fans know it and it is about time every penny, means EVERY PENNY. He should focus on this rather than what the media think of him.
“I hope very much that Rafa will remain at Newcastle United”
The second crucial line in the statement is Ashley’s declaration that he “hopes very much” Benitez will remain at St James’ Park.
Again, actions speak louder than words though, and Benitez will need reassurances from the owner before he commits himself to the Magpies. Talk has proved cheap and lies have been a constant thread of the Ashley era. It is about time he backs up these statements; even if he intends to sell the club, keeping Rafa will make it easier to sell. He needs to make sure Benitez stays, not hope that he does after failing to deliver on his demands.
Rafa needs assurances – we should be asking him what he wants not the other way round. A long summer of speculation awaits, so for now, let’s still enjoy the superb win over Chelsea.