Year after year, Newcastle United desire nothing more than to finish mid-table in the Premier League. They have no ambition whatsoever to win a trophy and qualification for a pesky European campaign is to be avoided at all costs due to the harmful effects it could have on the league campaign – so what quite is the point of Mike Ashley’s Newcastle United?!
Every day when I drive home on my daily commute, I drive past St. James’ Park. It stands out like a beacon on the Newcastle horizon and never ceases to make me proud. The burning epicentre of the city, situated slap-bang in the middle of town.
The location of St. James’ Park and its relevance to the city is something that should not be underestimated. The stadium is the throbbing heartbeat of the city. The footballing cathedral on top of the hill that draws 52,000 worshipers to the city centre every other week.
What those from the outside looking in don’t seem to get about Newcastle is the club’s relevance to its city. It’s not like London, or Manchester, Glasgow, Liverpool or any other major British football city – Newcastle is a one club city. The eyes of the city focus squarely on the one club. The one stadium. The one team.
Yet tragically, in recent years, it’s really started to feel like the soul is slowly being sucked from the city’s beloved football club. Since the arrival of Mike Ashley at Newcastle United, the club has deteriorated.
Over the course of the last eight years, Ashley has single-handedly removed all trace of hope and ambition from club and has turned it into something that most fans now detest – a glorified extension of Mike’s retail empire.
Under Ashley, Newcastle United have two main objectives. The first is to remain in the league, not get relegated and ride the super-rich Premier League gravy train for all its worth. The second is to flog any half decent player for the biggest profit possible.
If by chance, any are still in any doubt regarding the current regime’s ambition for Newcastle United, let’s be crystal clear here – there is NONE. Newcastle United has no interest in winning trophies. Newcastle United has no interest in competing for European places. Newcastle United has no interest in keeping their best players and building a competitive team.
The club have openly admitted to having no interest in the cup competitions – deemed an unnecessary distraction from the primary objective of securing Premier League security.
By the same token, they are also wary of doing too well and ending up in the Europa League again. The competition bears little financial reward, and can do heavy damage to the all-important league campaign.
This season Newcastle are pretty much having the perfect season as far as the owner is concerned. They sit relatively comfortably in mid-table with no great danger of relegation, no Europa League, out of both cup competitions and even received a couple of million for a manager on the verge of the sack just a couple of months ago.
In fact, the only downside for Ashley will be that he didn’t manage to coup £15m for Sissoko in January.
These days Newcastle United are not just a selling club, they have become a glorified version of one of the owner’s tacky shops. Rather than supplying the masses with Reebok Classics and giant mugs however, we supply Champions League level teams with quality players.
In the market for a new right-back Mr Wenger? How about a nice Debuchy?
In need of a classy midfield playmaker Mr Saint-Germain? I’ve got just the thing…
Europe is scoured for the best unearthed gems that the continent has to offer. They are then acquired for the cheapest possible fee and are then allowed to flourish in the Premier League.
It’s at this point where the lines get a little blurred. Many seem to foolishly think that the objective here is to create a competitive team at Newcastle – it is not. It’s to create a half-decent side and then sell on the best players on for huge profits.
In the past, there was often a general acceptance amongst fans that player sales could be tolerated as long as the club get a good price, and that an acceptable replacement be signed with the money.
As we now know only too well however, that simply does not happen. Sub-standard, cheap replacements are signed (usually six months later) and the remaining profit goes straight into Ashley’s back burner.
If in a year or two, these replacements actually turn out to be any good, they will then be sold for huge profits and the whole process will start again.
Newcastle United are now stuck in an endless loop of tedium and mediocrity and most fans are now sick to the back teeth of it. I, like many, have now reached the point with Ashley’s Newcastle United where I am really wondering what the point is anymore.
The club has become pointless in terms of competitiveness and ambition. Why pay our money in order to fund Mike’s NUFC-Sports Direct franchise?!
The real worry I now have for my club is the sheer levels of apathy around St. James’ Park. Most are now just resigned to this footballing purgatory that Mike Ashley has consigned us to. Year after year we go nowhere, we achieve nothing – but significantly, that’s what we all now expect because that’s the club’s target!
And that is what’s what we find so fu*king galling.
For us Newcastle fans, there is one hope on the horizon. Mike’s desperation to get his hands on the potential Champions League cash cow that is Rangers, should force him to relinquish control at St. James’ and sell up.
Some may warn that us Newcastle fans that we should be careful what we wish for; better the devil you know, they say. Well after eight long years of Mike Ashley, I for one am ready to take a leap of faith.
Only when that day comes and Mike Ashley finally departs, can the glorious cathedral in the heart of Newcastle’s city centre once again roar – restoring the hope to all those who’s faith has been tested to the absolute limit.