Thursday, 19 April 2012

Mike Ashley v Geordie Faithful

What a story Newcastle United has turned out to be this year. I think what has happened at the club since Mike Ashley took over has been fascinating.

It gives the supporters a real problem. For the last few years they have criticised Ashley for just about everything he has done. Unfortunately for the supporters, he is having huge success with the club, not equalled in 15 years. As well as success on the field, the business has never been in better shape.

What are the supporters going to say or do now? I have always been a supporter of Ashley and said I would judge him on results. Well, where we find ourselves now is that his decisions have been proven right. When he sacked Chris Hughton I said I would judge him on his replacement. I think Alan Pardew is a great manager and has a great team around him. I think most of his tactical decisions have been sound throughout the season.

In relation to the sale of Andy Carroll, again I said I would judge the decision on the replacement. There is no doubt now that selling him was the deal of the season and Cisse has been a revelation.

I think the success this season on the pitch has been down to the team spirit. There are no stars in the team such as a Shearer or a Carroll. I think the influence of Coloccini and Gutierrez has had a huge settling influence and brought maturity to the dressing room.

Off the pitch, Mike Ashley has been single minded and stuck to his plan. Despite criticism, he got rid of expensive problem players such as Nolan and Barton. He is committed to only buying young talent, with future potential and value. Ultimately, he is patient for success.

For those who are not as patient, such as Manchester City or Liverpool, spending £240 million has not provided the answer. Our problems next season will come from the very same clubs. They will undoubtedly pursue our players and our manager. Mike Ashley is a trader and if the deal is good, I have no doubt he will sell.

I also think that if we get into the champions league, Ashley may look to get out himself. He will have to weigh up the cash benefit against the European profile for sports direct.

If we get to the Champions League the renaming of St James Park may be another master stroke, if a big sponsor such as Qatar Airways comes forward.

All of this success is a little embarrassing for the supporters. Mr Ashley got it right and the 54,000 Geordie Faithful got it wrong! Maybe because he made dispassionate decisions, rather than getting wrapped up in history and tradition, he has been able to take the club forward.

Despite this he will always be seen as an outsider and will never get the recognition for what he has achieved. I suspect Mike Ashley couldn't care less. Newcastle United is an investment and something to do with the kids on a Saturday afternoon.

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