Richard Keys – perhaps the only man on the planet who could manage to launch yet another attack on Rafa Benitez after his Newcastle side pulled off an incredible comeback win over Manchester City.
Keys comically suggested a few weeks ago that Benitez should personally fund his own transfers at Newcastle and was rightly mocked by most football fans, not just Newcastle followers. He has been so anti-Benitez many believe he is a paid part of an pro-Ashley PR campaign and his latest comments only fuel those comments further; despite claiming he has only met him twice.
Here’s a snippet from his latest blog piece:
“Let’s try one last time to have a sensible conversation with you Geordies.
“I remember the relief when Mike Ashley took over. Now – let me say again – other than one trip on his plane from Newcastle to London – when he told me he was going to give Alan Shearer the manager’s job – and one evening in a Newcastle pub with the then chairman Chris Mort – I don’t know Ashley. I don’t approve of many of the things he’s done at the club – but the bottom line is – it’s his club and he can do as he wants. He can run it as he wants. It’s his.
“I don’t like the owners at Coventry. They’ve ruined our club. We’re only a handful of games from not having a stadium to play in again. We play in League One. We played in League Two last season. We don’t know what Mark Robins feels about SISU because he never complains. He gets on with his job – doing his best in really trying circumstances. Lee Bowyer does the same at Charlton. There are deep problems at Sheffield United – but Chris Wilder simply gets on with his job. It’s the same at Wednesday. Gary Monk has got his hands tied at Birmingham, but what a good job he’s doing. It’s been chaos at QPR for years. How about Swansea? Cardiff? Wigan? The list is endless. There are problems for managers all over the country. What about what McCoist went through at Rangers?
“I don’t read about the guys managing these and many other clubs ‘threatening to walk’ every 10 minutes. They simply do the job they’ve got to the best of their ability. They all know the rules – you really can walk if you’re unhappy – unless you’ve got to pay the owner £6m to get out of your contract – an owner that picked you up after you’d been sacked after 6 months in your last two jobs.
“Newcastle are not going to compete with the top 6 in the PL any time soon – no matter who the owner is. The ‘big 6’ have gone away from the rest now. Do you remember the Venky’s taking over at Blackburn promising Champions League football in exchange for a £5m investment? It was laughable. Oh, and there’s another manager getting on with his job – Tony Mowbray – and look what he’s got to put up with.
“Unless a ‘country’ buys Newcastle their supporters can forget about the Keegan/Dalglish/Robson year’s. They’re over. And let’s once again point out – Ashley has had Newcastle for sale for years now, but no-one wants to buy it. (yet!)
“So what can Newcastle fans expect? Indeed – demand? I’d say a Cup run – minimum. That would excite everybody. Why not? For goodness sake – Newcastle aren’t going down, so why did Benitez make 11 changes at Watford and toss off another campaign? That isn’t Ashley’s fault. If he interfered with team selection and demanded a Cup run all hell would let loose. By the way, Palace are still in the Cup. They’ll expect to win at Doncaster – then a 1/4-final beckons. Their supporters will be on fire at that prospect. Why not Newcastle? It’s a disgrace that they’re out. There’s no reason they should be out. King Kev would never have allowed that. A Cup run won’t see Palace relegated. The momentum they get from it could easily see them finish top half.
“Rafa wants money. He’s had money. He had £102m and the biggest budget in the Championship to get Newcastle back into the PL. Chris Hughton had nothing like his funds but got Brighton up – as he did Newcastle when he was in charge.
“Spending money isn’t the answer to PL success. Are West Ham any better this season after a £100m spend last summer? Are Bournemouth?
“Mike Ashley won’t ever win any popularity contests in Newcastle. Nor will I. For some reason Benitez continues to weave spells that have the locals transfixed by some of his nonsense. Now he doesn’t have to pay Ashley £6m to walk – he can do just that – or serve up a few more nights like Tuesday’s against City and return Newcastle to the days when James’ Park was jumping every week.
“It’s too late for a Cup run this season. Next time round winning silverware should be the priority – whoever owns the club and whoever is managing the club. It’s too good a club for one man to try and convince us all that it would collapse without him. No it wouldn’t. No it wouldn’t.”
Keys just doesn’t get it – and trying to use sides like Coventry and Blackburn (with all due respect) doesn’t help his case. As for the changes in the FA cup – it was frustrating as always to go out. But it is the chronic lack of investment in the team that means we have no depth – imagine if we played Rondon against Watford, he got injured and we still lost? Joeslu would be our striker to keep us up..
Rafa does use the press to ask for more from Ashley but asking for investment and a better academy is totally justified. Benitez is a winner and wants the best, something Ashley doesn’t and will never understand. As for him wanting too much, a net spend of £100k since being promoted and a profit of £21m in the summer are the only stats that matter if you want to get a feel for the situation at Newcastle United. Quite where Keys plucks £102m from in the Championship is beyond me, as again we made a big profit that window with the sales of Sissoko, Townsend and Wijnaldum.
It is hard not to, with such outlandish claims, but the best policy is to leave Keys make a fool of himself with regards to Newcastle, as he has been doing. Let him entertain Wise, Allardyce et al on his B list football show in Dubai and we can focus on the state of our club and what is best for it.