For 10 years, owner Mike Ashley has persistently gambled with Newcastle United’s squad with the lack of investment, but under a world class boss in Rafael Benitez, who could have mistaken fans for thinking this time it would be different.
Once again, fans wake this morning to a similar feeling under the Ashley era. Newcastle supporters have a squad not up to Premier League standards plus a manager’s future which is up in the air.
Promotion – a feel good factor
It is shocking the Magpies have been relegated twice under Ashley’s tenure, however, under Benitez, Ashley had a real chance to make some redemption this summer.
He and Lee Charnley done the hard part by persuading Benitez to stay, but a year later, when it came to money, Ashley surprisingly went back on his word. After 10 years, why is that still surprising?
Newcastle carried huge momentum from last season, in particular, a certain feel good factor after United clinched the Championship title on the final day in dramatic circumstances.
Exciting summer was expected
The thrill of the final day was added to a week later by a statement from Ashley saying: “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.”
For arguably the first time under the Ashley era, Toon fans rightly felt optimistic about the season ahead, led by a manager they adore.
While Ashley’s statement was fresh on people’s minds, Benitez expressed an early season concede at a number of targets the club was missing out on.
Newcastle weirdly struggled to agree a fee with Eibar for Florian Lejeune despite the defender having a release clause in his contract.
Only Christian Atsu, Jacob Murphy and Javier Manquillo had joined before August. Plenty of time to make signings was remaining but with Benitez expressing his frustration, it became apparent there were problems behind the scenes.
And on August 11, a shambolic but rare interview from Ashley drained every ounce of good feeling out of the club.
Ashley confirmed he still didn’t understand how to run Newcastle. Starting by saying “we can’t compete with Man City” when no one was asking him to.
Ashley also claimed the club would not generate enough revenue. “It’s not a secret, every penny the club generates he can have but it won’t generate enough.” But how?
Lies? – the lack of transfer kitty
Even the most ambitious Newcastle fans would understand that the club can only spend within in means. However, what they probably couldn't understand is seeing fellow promotion sides Brighton and Hove Albion and Huddersfield Town spend more than their club.
Clubs who were in the Premier League last season are a season ahead due to the TV money.
Though, It is simply hard to understand that a club who sells out its huge stadium each week, sells a number of season tickets and merchandise over the summer cannot generate enough cash to compete with the teams on a similar, if not, better financial level.
Still, Benitez and his coaching staff worked hard to raise funds in the final week of the transfer – removing Siem De Jong, Grant Hanley, Tim Krul and Achraf Lazaar off the wage bill as well as accumulating transfer fees.
But for what? The reductions only benefited Ashley. To not sign anyone in the final week of the window is completely unacceptable.
Ashley blatantly refused to allow Benitez every penny the club generated and tried to cover it up in a pitiful TV interview.
Starved of quality
The only thing keeping Benitez at St James’ Park is his affiliation with the Newcastle supporters.
Benitez was desperate for a long-term project, and in Newcastle United, he thought he had found that. However, Ashley has put a stop to that.
What is to stop Benitez from now going to West Ham United if they make an approach? He’d be better treated there.
Newcastle’s top-flight status is up in the air before it has even properly begun. Ashley has taken his common gamble. If Benitez goes, fans should follow. It won’t pay off this time.
Newcastle had a bigger squad for their Championship campaign, they embark on a Premier League campaign with a weaker one. Any injuries to the Magpies starting 11 and they are very weak.
It’s ludicrous that a Champions League winning manager is in charge and Ashley is still up to his little tricks. It will never end.
Truth is, Ashley is already content with his income and has no ambitions of making more.
Kevin Keegan’s famous words continue to ring from Tyneside. “This club can never go anywhere under Mike Ashley, I promise you that.”