Newcastle United, Mike Ashley and Rafa Benitez – what’s going to happen at St. James’ Park?

Newcastle United fans know disappointment and frustration like no other set of football fans, for a decade now the club has suffered with poor management from the owner, which has seen them go from title challengers to mid table mediocrity and made them long for the good old days under Freddy Shepherd’s stewardship.

We all know the reason for Newcastle’s decline over the past decade is down to the strict rules owner Mike Ashley has put in place ever since he purchased the club in the summer of 2007.

Since Ashley has taken over at Newcastle the club has been relegated twice, gone through nine managers and finished in the top half of the Premier League on only three occasions.

When Ashley was appointed he promised to bring investment into club, as well as stating the club would become regulars in the Champions League. This was just the start of Ashley’s broken promises.

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As of August 2018, Newcastle United are still up for sale, with no investor willing to pay the £400 million that Ashley is looking for to part with the club.

Of course, Newcastle have been up for sale numerous times under Ashley’s tenure and it would likely not surprise Magpies fans to see Ashley remove the club from the market once again.

Ashley has done plenty to ruin Newcastle United and with the lack of investment beginning to irk current manager Rafa Benitez, so is this the straw that finally breaks the camel’s back and fan protests really steps up a notch.

Well we’ve decided to run through some of the potential scenarios that could happen at Newcastle United over the next year or so and see which one is most likely to occur, quick note: it’s Newcastle so it will most likely be the most ridiculous option that we couldn’t even possibly imagine.

Everything stays the same until the end of the season

In this first potential scenario, the pit of despair that Mike Ashley has placed Newcastle fans in over the last decade will continue for the remainder of the season.

It’s very likely that Newcastle will have the same sort of season they had last year, with Rafa overachieving with a squad that badly needs investment.

Mike Ashley isn’t going to suddenly invest hundreds of millions in the club come the January transfer window, therefore Rafa will continue to get the best out of a limited group of players.

Once the season begins to intensify and there are matches coming thick and fast, Newcastle will need more Premier League quality players to deal with the inevitable injuries and suspensions that will occur.

Despite this lack of investment Rafa will continue in his role as manager and possibly achieve some sort of mid table success yet again.

However, the continued lack of investment will probably end up frustrating Rafa so much, that he finally decides to walk away from the club at the end of the season after being told yet again that there will be investment in the squad and then ultimately have that promise broken.

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Rafa gets sacked

Now we move on to the scenario that could cause open revolt outside St James’ Park if it was to occur.

Ever since taking over on Tyneside, Rafa Benitez has been beloved by Newcastle fans the world over.

Despite taking over the club when they were on the brink of relegation, Rafa’s attitude in the closing weeks of the season gave fans hope for the future.

When Newcastle were relegated it was expected that Rafa would move on, instead he decided to stay and guided the club back to the Premier League at the first attempt.

Now with the fans so deeply infatuated with Rafa if he was to be unceremoniously sacked then Mike Ashley would have made the biggest mistake of his time in charge.

That being said Ashley isn’t afraid to get rid of managers on a whim, just ask Chris Houghton, whose sacking when the club were sitting 11th in the table angered fans greatly.

If Ashley feels that Rafa is questioning his authority or criticising him for refusing to invest in the team then Ashley may decide that he’s had enough of Rafa and that it is time to get rid of the Spaniard.

A new saviour

Finally we have the scenario that would have Newcastle fans singing all across the Gallowgate; Mike Ashley sells up and moves on.

Late last year it was thought that business woman Amanda Staveley would finally prise the club out of Ashley’s hands; however, her bid of £300 million fell short of Ashley’s £400 million valuation of the club.

With Staveley and her company PCP partners still the most likely candidates to buy the club from Ashley, the future could be very bright for Newcastle fans if this deal was to go through.

Staveley has links to Middle Eastern investors and was involved in the negotiations on behalf of Sheik Mansour’s purchase of Manchester City.

If Staveley does indeed end up buying Newcastle, the chance of Middle Eastern investment at Newcastle will greatly excite fans.

It would also increase the chance of Rafa staying on as manager for a longer period of time and perhaps making Newcastle a club to be reckoned with once again.

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Likely outcome

So after all that, which of these three scenarios is the most likely to occur on Tyneside.

It is believed that Staveley is still interested in purchasing the club, but is not willing to bid anywhere near Ashley’s £400 million value of Newcastle.

Unless Ashley decides to lower his valuation of the club, then it is unlikely that Staveley will succeed in purchasing the club.

While the scenario of Rafa getting sacked is one that could possibly occur, you would think that Mike Ashley has learnt from his previous mistakes and with the fans already on the brink of rebellion over lack of investment, he would have to be a brave man to sack the one man that has brought joy to Newcastle fans over the past two years.

So that leaves us with scenario number one, everything stays the same, while it may be frustrating for Newcastle fans, Ashley’s handling of the club over the past decade has left this the most likely scenario to play out.

Sadly for Newcastle fans, Mike Ashley’s time on Tyneside has been like a nightmare that they can never wake up from and ultimately Ashley will continue to use Newcastle to fund other business interests, to the continued frustration and rising anger of the Newcastle faithful.

The Author

Evan Coughlan

I bloody love football

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