Last night’s horror show has confirmed one brutal reality for us fans – Mike Ashley is now gambling with the future of Newcastle United if he doesn’t sack Steve Bruce.
We know he loves a cheeky flutter every now and again. Tabloid headlines of him blowing £1million in Aspers, the naiveness he showed when frisked in a Sports Direct warehouse, reluctantly pulling out a wad of £50 notes in front of his minimum wage workers, claiming he had “just been to the casino”. Oh dear. It was even rumoured he hired one of our managers because of a gambling debt he was owed. Possibly fake news, but the fact we wouldn’t be surprised if it was true says a lot.
He’s a reckless gambler, but he now he is chancing the entire future of our club, with The Chronicle reporting last night that the NUFC owner won’t pull the trigger while we remain above the drop zone.
A £300m ticket out of Tyneside and an exit from the club he clearly sees as a nuisance hasn’t gone away, and could be given the green light if Middle East movement really is as significant as some say and the legal proceedings go our way.
The consortium remain keen on mixing it up with the big boys in the Premier League and are lingering in the background, ready to pounce if the takeover is given the go ahead.
They are not keen, however, on mixing it up in the Championship – something Lee Ryder made clear earlier this week.
One thing is for sure, a disastrous season that ends in relegation would serve as a devastating eraser to any hopes of becoming the richest club in world football. The biggest bulk of the deal, the Saudi PIF, would without question walk away from the deal. Our club value would half overnight and Ashley could kiss goodbye to his £300m.
Keeping Steve Bruce in the job is risking it all. He is, after all, a Championship manager – and last night proved it.
Setting up in a 5-4-1, camping out on the edge of our box and looking fearful of getting men forward, all against a side that has not won a game all season is the final nail of the coffin for me. I have given Bruce the benefit of the doubt, waited to see if this ‘progress’ he repeatedly talks about could come to fruition but if anything, he has only taken us backwards.
While he was picking up results I found the vitriolic criticism from our fanbase unjust, unfair, and at times, bordering on hate speech. Boring football has never bothered me as long as it picks up points or makes sense. What bothers me is bad management. And yes, setting up with every man behind a ball against a side ROCK BOTTOM of the division is the purest definition of bad management.
If Ashley learned anything from the 2015/16 season, it is that he acted too late to dismiss the hopeless Steve McClaren.
Rafa came in with ten games to go, had us unbeaten in our last five fixtures, battered Spurs 5-1 on the final day of the campaign… and still took us down!
He can not afford to make the same mistake again, especially with the stakes that are involved this time around. A better manager will get a finer tune out of these players.
His decision to swap Benitez with Bruce was unforgivable, but he has backed the latter by landing all of his top targets last summer and provided us with a solid Premier League squad filled with a plethora of attacking talent.
Almiron, Fraser, Saint-Maximin and Wilson is an attacking quartet just waiting to be unleashed by the right man for the job. Throw in a solid backline and a quality goalkeeper and you have a very adept Newcastle squad that simply isn’t being able to fulfil its true potential.
My message to Mike Ashley is this: if you are serious about selling our club and putting that £300m in your pocket, you have to pull the trigger now.