Does Mike Ashley have cruel intentions?

Posted on June 30th, 2011 | 38 Comments |

Brace yourselves
Brace yourselves
Mike Ashley’s ‘5 year plan’ is to create a self sufficient business model, this is the aim for his Newcastle United project. Now, this should be the aim for any business, and especially where football clubs are concerned with the financial rules set to take effect, and the current state of the economic climate. This of course will take time to achieve and will not happen overnight, but will it work at all with Ashley at the helm, and is long term success on the pitch part of his true intentions?

This ‘5 year plan’, which I assume has been extended every year since he took charge after some abject failings (like relegation in 2009), has some positive factors incorporated. I like the idea of young, home grown players running out at St James Park and the focus on youth and development should be welcomed by many of us.

If you refer to Ashley’s statement back in 2008 it declares:

“My investment in the club has extended to time, effort and yet again, money being poured into the Academy. I want Newcastle to be able to create its own legends of the future to rival those of the past. This is a long term plan. A long term plan for the future of the club so that it can flourish”.

I think we all want to see that don’t we?

Ashley has also created an extensive scouting network, spearheaded by Graham Carr and his band of merry men, instructed to scour France and the rest of the continent, in search of diamonds in the rough, unheard of players, those who’s career is in front of them and not behind them. In the same 2008 statement Ashley stated:

“Newcastle has therefore set up an extensive scouting system. We look for young players, for players in foreign leagues who everyone does not know about. We try and stay ahead of the competition. We search high and low looking for value, for potential that we can bring on and for players who will allow Newcastle to compete at the very highest level but who don’t cost the earth”.

Now, the scouting network has bought us some success so far, with players such as Cheick Tioté. I can’t include our recent signings as successes yet, until they pull on the shirt and show us what they can do in the Premier League (I live in hope that they will be of the Tioté mould, and not of the Xisco calibre by the way).

Ashley’s reasoning for looking for bargains is as follows:

“The truth is that Newcastle could not sustain buying the Shevchenkos, Robinhos or the Berbatovs. These are recognised European footballers. They have played in the European leagues and everyone knows about them. They can be brilliant signings. But everybody knows that they are brilliant and so they, and players like them, cost more than £30 million to buy before you even take into account agent commissions and the multi-million pound wage deals

Ashley also stated though that he will fund large signings for the right kind of player:

“I am prepared to back large signings for millions of pounds but for a player who is young and has their career in front of them and not for established players at the other end of their careers”.

From my point of view, the two statements above are stating the obvious. I know Newcastle can’t attract the Drogbas of this world, because not only do we not have the financial muscle, we don’t have anything to offer in footballing terms either. We are a long way from European football at the moment, our current squad is not good, or big enough, for the rigours of European nights incorporated alongside Premier League games throughout a season. As for Champion’s League, which would attract the crème de la crème of the world’s elite footballers, well, we are a million miles from that at the moment. Those with the true financial muscle in England are vainly flexing it to assure themselves of Tuesday and Wednesday night battles against Europe’s premier clubs, but mixed in with the spending forces of Chelsea and Manchester City are low spending Arsenal.

Arsenal are the model Ashley is trying to incorporate. They have been scouring the continent unearthing young talent for years. Players such as Anelka, Fàbregas, Vieira, Petit and Ljungberg were not massively well known, but bought Arsenal domestic success, and in some instances financial success, such as Anelka being signed by Arsenal for 500k, and being sold 2 years later for £23 million. Now this is what Graham Carr is vying to do currently for Newcastle, finding the stars of the future and securing them to the club. Alongside Arsenal’s excellent scouting network there is also the ‘Professor’, Arsène Wenger, aiding in the development of players and to a degree, he has been very successful at it. A student can only truly flourish under the guidance of a master.

Alan Pardew is currently the Arsène Wenger to Ashley’s version of the Arsenal model. With the aid of many cigarettes and a large quantity of vodka last season, I accepted Pardew as being our manager and will continue to try to refrain from displeasure at the appointment. I, like many of us, will continue to get behind him and the team. Ashley believes Pardew is the man for the job and that is why he is here on a five year contract. My preference was actually to look abroad for a ‘professor’ of our own but that is another matter. I do welcome stability to the club as we crave it, our record for sacking managers is laughable, we won’t get anywhere if we keep chopping and changing every 5 minutes.

In essence Ashley must trust Pardew to be the man, therefore he must back him like the Arsenal board, to spend money when it is available if he truly does want Newcastle to be a success on the pitch, and not just in his bank account. Although Arsenal don’t spend massive amounts, they do free up funds for transfers when it is available and have spent big on players such as Theo Walcott and Andrei Arshavin in the past. We are only on year 2 of this ‘5 year plan’ so we must remain patient if the model is indeed in effect, and for the bigger amounts to be spent on players.

Arsenal have been relatively unsuccessful trophy-wise in recent seasons, but the system they incorporate has bought them more success in the last fifty years than ourselves. How many millions have we spent in recent times only to achieve nothing?

So can this model work for Newcastle? I think it can, as long as Ashley surrounds himself with people who are knowledgeable on business matters and football matters. As long as Ashley doesn’t just want to recoup the funds he put into Newcastle when he bought the club in 2007. There is a difference between saying and doing, actions speak louder than words.

I await with baited breath what will happen and what Ashley’s true intentions are. All should become clear soon, and I personally will try to remain calm and patient. I am sure many of you who have read this will hold no hope for future success at Newcastle United under Mike Ashley, and looking at what has happened in the past during his tenure, I can fully understand. I am not the most positive of people when pondering about the club being run by him, but I live in hope that the ‘Arsenal model’ is incorporated properly and he is not just using it as an excuse to supporters. Newcastle look for players around the world who have sell on value, who will only increase in value over time. It is a sensible way to conduct business, but I disagree that because a player is approaching 30 they are of no value to the team any more. The club still needs senior heads in the dressing room, Arsenal were at there most successful when they had a mixture of youth and experience in their team. Personally I think the Arsenal model will work and benefit the club in the long run, I just hope that Ashley has put it into effect for the right reasons.

So what do you think Ashley’s intentions for the club are? To push forward and look toward success? Or is it just damage limitations for him now and he just wants to recoup the money he invested? Has he got the correct recipe for this model to work, or is he still missing some vital ingredients?

You decide.

NUFCBlog Author: Jimbob Backpacker extraordinaire and current resident of sunny Sheffield. Loves Marmite, hates peanut butter. Sleeps twice a day, wrestles Polar Bears because he can and regards himself as cool as a cucumber in a bowl of hot sauce. Jimbob has written 40 articles on this blog.

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38 Responses

  1. I guess it’s a balancing act between young talent, and re-sale value.

    It would seem that few players expecting to start in Aug will be 17/18 yr old starlets from the youth academy. So players with some relative age/experience, i.e Cabaye at 25 yrs, have been drafted in on good deals/freebies.

    It’s a gamble that Cabaye/Marv/Ba – will gel together, and remain fit/injury free – But they at least seem talented and can inspire the youngsters in training.

    Sooner or later tho, we Need To Spend Money. Nothing crazy (in PL terms), but given that nolan’s sale means we’ve not spent a penny, I’d like to see 20m SPENT on players:

    1X 5m CB
    5m – rb/lb spare/extra striker …

  2. Without a striker (Number 1 priority) and at least two defenders many of us will remain to be convinced.

  3. If Fat B@rstad had brought in David Dein when he first bought us, we wouldnt be in this hell we are currently living in!!! Under Jabba the hutt and his littlke sidekick thingy!!

  4. MA has No intentions to move the club forwards and build a decent side.
    Football and Cheap retail are two different ball games…he has confused them both and somehow they have merged together to make a total mess.

  5. I still believe he’s trying to run the club like he runs his shops i.e Cheap stock sold on for a big profit. Whilst this method makes sound financial sense, particularly with the new ‘break even’ rule coming in, it would benefit the club more if some of those profits were used to strengthen the team. It’s still too early to cast a judgement as the transfer window doesn’t open proper til July 1st ;But based on windows past it doesn’t bode well. I really hope ashley makes me eat my words. HTL

  6. Well if he does`nt get his finger out soon we are going to lose Zog. I see everton are after him and if they get £20 million for Baines the money will be there to buy Zog. In my imo Ashley will continue to shop in the bargain basement because he has no intention of moving beyong mid table mediocrity.

  7. My feelings are the same…he has the perfect Stooge in Pardew though and Pardew will sell and buy whatever Mike tells him to.

    I can’t see us even denting that 35m Carroll Cash Bonanza……it’s probably been gambled at the roulette wheel weeks ago anyways.

  8. “I want Newcastle to be able to create its own legends of the future to rival those of the past”

    the only legends this bloke will be creating are ones for other clubs – AC being the latest.

    the b@stards worth £1,300 million! yet he probably w@nks himself to sleep every night at the thought of paying zilch for a player & then selling him at the first opportunity & getting his fat little pinkies on even more millions.

    one greedy b@stard – there’s only one greedy b@stard.

    the arsenal way my arse.

  9. Ma will not spend anymore cash this summer & sell Jose & tiote on the last day ov the transfer market, running the club like he runs sports direct

  10. It’s very interesting that we wish to mimic the Arsenal model as I’m sure, having read their bloggs, that many Arsenal supporters are not too keen on it now because even though they play stylish football have some wonderful gifted individuals and probably the best stadium in the UK they have not won anything since the league in 2004 and the cup in 2005.

    They have been eclipsed by ManU and Chelsea with ManCity ready to replace them in the pecking order. It is difficult to escape the fact that all these three clubs have spent vast sums of money to get and stay at the top table. Whilst Arsenal have also had a seat at the top table they haven’t been able to pickup any silverware. Many Arsenal supporters point to the fact that Arsenal have been reluctant to spend large amounts on players and also reluctant to bring in older more experienced players that has caused many supporters to be highly critical of Wenger for his stubbornness.

    I cannot see Newcastle ousting the present teams at the top table unless ManU, Chelsea, Arsenal, ManCity and Liverpool have a Leeds type cataclysmic deterioration in performance every year.

    Our best will be finishing in the league between 6th and 10th perhaps with a cup win although we haven’t won a cup for 42 years and so the odds are not too good.

    I think we will be a cross between Everton, Villa and Spurs with the odd gifted player or two, safe from relegation, no hope for champions league but a modest bet for a cup.

  11. Jimbob
    Obvious you have been reading my comments on this matter !
    Yeah it’s about right, except for some facts cocerning the youth system.
    There has been only one successful player to come through the system (N’Zogbia)and we were dumb enough to sell him cheap.
    Yeah , Ashley has’nt quite abandoned it, having drafted in one young player from the French league and shown an interest in a young English striker (Inge).
    But it looks as if he has reached a decission to sign players who though young are of proven quality (our most recent French signings)
    Who are of the age to give a few years of good service then be sold on, signing most to what would be considered long term contracts, to avoid the running down of say a three year deal.
    Not a bad idea, and unique in a sense, though there are similarities to the Arsenal model.
    As for a worldwide network of scouts, have my doubts there, perhaps one in the making, but you may note we have signed players from only the French league, not exactly WW.
    Until we do in fact establish a WW network and sign young players directly from their home countries, we will be forced to pay through the nose for those same youngters, by other european sides who’s business it is to recruit these youngsters in order to sell on at a profit.
    I have to chuckle when reading, Pardew want’s this guy and is chasing that guy, etc, etc.
    Believe it, Pardew has little or nothing to do with the process, it’s all about Ashley.
    He takes his que from Carr, who i believe has taken on the role of a likeable Dennis Wise.
    Carr decides on who we buy, Ashley ok’s the deal, Owl Heed does the negotiating (heavily supervised)and Pardew just chunders away as usual as if he were in the loop.
    Well that’s hoe i see it !
    But until we replace this guy (Pardew) with a decent manager it will be the flaw in the system that will cause it to fail.
    Otherwise got no problem with the Plan, as we know Ashley will always be a hands on owner, just his nature!

  12. Ashley will never appoint a manager who has his own opinion and questions anything. Lets face it whilst the fat man is in charge we don`t have a manager as such but a puppet who spouts verbal shit. Pardew wanted to keep Carroll, Nolan and Barton. I think Ashley had other ideas but Pardew continues to tow the party line. He knows nobody else would employ him!

  13. Many contributors to this and other bloggs write as if they know Ashley’s intentions and inner thoughts and quote them as facts but has anyone on this blogg actually had a conversation with the man?

  14. Well I, am a bit like Roy, SJT and others on this thread, still sitting on the fence over his intentions.

    You would have to agree that however unlikeable he may be, that his plans for the club on the surface (at least) seem to be moving in a positive direction. I think it’s the “perceived” under the surface actions (true or otherwise) that are causing people to be upset.

    All we can do is wait and hope, the transfer window so far has been a reasonable one.

    Although I do have to cast some envious glances a few miles south, some of Brucies signings could be real winners. Dammit!!

  15. I wondered how long it would be before we were sold the tale that we had made five signings. Pardew says although we have made three signings it seems like five with Ben Arfa and Gosling. Do you take us for a pack of pillocks Pardew, we know your game free transfers, and big up the fact that Ben Arfa and Gosling are like new players because they hardly played last season. Get real the squad was weak last season and struggled with injuries and suspensions. Spend some of that £35 million on players who will put bums on seats.

  16. Thanks for the comments so far lads.

    Chuck, I didn’t put N’Zogbia in as a success because he was part of the club before Ashley and this ‘5 year plan’ started. Though I agree with what your saying.

    Im not convinced by his intentions to be honest, so I tend to agree with what most of you have said above. It does seem to be a ‘no questions asked’ scenario at Newcastle and to be honest I really do not trust the man.

    He has a lot to do to regain my trust, I hope I start to see some postive actions take place, im not expecting miracles but soon enough we should all get the jist of what he wants to do.

  17. In today`s chronicle pardew says we are still looking to bring one or two players in A striker and left sided player. well their you are then fact we are not going to put much of a dent into that £35 million are we.

  18. Until we buy a striker we will go into the season knowing that unless we can pressurise the opposition it will be our defence that is put under pressure – and that aint good.
    Pardew’s assurances about Carroll not going and Nolan and Barton needing to be secured do not inspire confidence.
    We will see – there is time yet but I’ll be surprised if the player sales are matched.

  19. Kamar
    Dont ask stupid questions, we all have drawn conclusions, from the actions taken by Ashley and usually qualify our comments by stating so.
    You seem pretty assured as to what we will acomplish next season, without even knowing what kind of side we will end up having.
    My point, most of what you read here will be speculation, including your own comments, OK !

  20. Thank God there are people on here that talk sense and truly see Mike Ashley for what he is.

    and ‘Mike thinks Pardew is the best man for the job and we have to get behind him etc’

    ANYONE who believes Pardew is the best man for the job, and that he was appointed for PURELY Footballing decisions and his abilities and merits as a Football Manager SERIOUSLY NEEDS THEIR HEAD TESTED!

    The reason Pardew was appointed is becuase he is a kahk manager that not even a Championship club wanted and he is SO lucky to have this job and wants to keep it, that he will unashamedly mislead or lie to the fans faces and do whatever Mike Ashley tells him, e.g. public relations exercise code named Carroll, Enrique and Barton with Tiote commencing soon!

  21. A left sided player ? Cryptic ! don’t all players have left sides ?
    Joking aside, a striker and hopefully a LB is what he (pardew) means.
    Although why are we paying any attention to what that jiboney says, he is probably as much in the dark as we are.
    But this concentration on our midfield, is a bit scarey.
    Most successful clubs build from a solid defence and without Toro and some backup in the CD role we are anything but solid.
    Bassong wants out, with all his French Marras here, why not put in a bid, Arry will probably bite your hand off.
    The Spurs fans really liked Bassong thought he was a good player and believe he got a raw deal as far as his lack of playing time.
    M’Bengue, can be signed “for a few dollars more”
    Izaguirre, a straight deal for Forster and Best, both coveted by Celtic, problem solved.

  22. Just a daft thought but I suppose Saylor could be chucked up front as an old fashioned CF if the need arose. Does seem to be able to find the net when he gets forward.

    We do have Ba, Best, (born again and again, and again) Shola, Airey and Lover so I have a feeling “The Managment” don’t see a striker as a priority. I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t get another this window despite all the hot air and rhetoric.

    Nowt like speculation is there? :)

  23. I just don’t think MA has any real plans and I said on here moons ago why would you want to follow the Arsenal model…they play pretty football and win fook all these days.

    Personally I am dreading last day of the transfer window…I used to wait up and refresh my computer whilst watching sky news and having talk sport in the background… I am petrified as to what crazy departures are going to happen so avoid all sport media on deadline day if I can help it.

  24. Sir Bobby says:
    June 30, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    “ANYONE who believes Pardew is the best man for the job, and that he was appointed for PURELY Footballing decisions and his abilities and merits as a Football Manager SERIOUSLY NEEDS THEIR HEAD TESTED!”

    I don’t think anyone does, I don’t, but we have to get behind the team don’t we?

    Would anyone in their right mind appoint somebody who has been sacked from his previous 3 jobs including ‘giants’ such as Charlton and Southampton, one team of which got relegated and the other only survived due to an illegal signing. His last job he was sacked for reported low morale in a League one side.

    I have a very damning verdict on the matter, but the article was getting too long, But my thoughts and detest at the appointment will only infuriate me. So I have to get behind the team no matter how much I don’t approve of the current situation, I know what I THINK will happen and what his intentions are, it’s not good.

    But its all what I think so far, we have to wait and see whether it happens or not. Ashley is not fckin off anytime soon is he? So what can we do about it? I don’t think we can do much that won’t have an adverse effect on the team.

  25. I’m a little worried about us only “needing 1/2 more players” and HBA and Gosling being referred to as new signings…

    As i see it, we’ve got Prem standard players:
    Colo, Saylor, Jose, Simpson (just).
    Cabaye, Marv, Jonas, Barton, Tiote.
    Ba, HBA

    That’s a full 11 side, plus Barton, tho I’m sure he’ll be gone by Sept.

    Anybody else being subbed in, has got to be considered Championship/Potential:
    krul, forster,
    willo, perch, kadar
    lualua, rtaylor, abeid
    ferguson, sammi ameobi
    gosling (unproven/injured), guthrie, smith, vukic
    best, airey, ranger, shola, lovenkrands

    So as it stands, any time there’s a sub/injury to well known crocked player, we bring on Sub that’s poor quailty or a hope for future…for potentially 90mins!

    Personally, I think 1/2 is not enough, but 3/4 quailty PL players – and if Best/smith/ranger/Barton get sold, then I’d want 3/4 PL players and extra 2/3 future “Starlets”….

  26. sirjasontoon says:
    June 30, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    “I just don’t think MA has any real plans and I said on here moons ago why would you want to follow the Arsenal model…they play pretty football and win fook all these days.”

    As a business model it is good, signing young players from around the world etc. Look how much more successful they are compared to us.

    They do have a top manager though don’t they? The model will work for the club if the board want success on the pitch and not just their bank account.

    The model is good if you appoint the right people in the right positions, from chairman to manager. The pretty football Arsenal play, has nothing to do with the business model they incorporate.

  27. krul, forster,
    willo,, kadar, rtaylor, abeid
    ferguson, sammi ameobi
    gosling (unproven/injured), guthrie,, vukic
    best, airey, ranger, shola, lovenkrands

    Doesn’t make for great reading…these players must go ranger, shola, lovenkrands
    smith,lualua,perch…..they will all be here next season and the players we should be holding onto Barton,Nolan,Jose,Collo,Jonas(maybe just to keep Jose happy) will in my opinion be sold.

  28. For crying out loud fellas…… why do we go on so much about not spending the £35m?

    If you look at para 8 of the article where Ashley said

    “……. They [established stars]can be brilliant signings. But everybody knows that they are brilliant and so they, and players like them, cost more than £30 million to buy before you even take into account agent commissions and the multi-million pound wage deals…. ”

    Note the bit about commissions and wages and think about that in the context of the £35m… they all eat into it!

    Signing players is just like buying a car…. no matter what you pay for it, you’ve still got to pay to run, tax, insure and maintain it!

  29. As a business model they are ok but it is not winning them anything and i reckon Wenger is on his last legs now- will it be 7 season at the end of next without a single trophy?

    Pretty football Yup…..a Team to Emulate Nope.

  30. Said it time and time again…I DON’T WANT MIRACLES OR MASSIVE SIGNINGS.
    Steady progression and build and strengthen over a few seasons.

    Letting players like Barton,Nolan (proper grafters and leaders on and off the pitch) is just totally stupid in my opinion.

  31. The only other model you could incorporate is either, spunk loads of money everywhere like Man City (we can’t do that) or like sheppered and Hall did, mortgage the club to the hilt (not a good idea) and end up like Leeds.

    I’d rather be in Arsenal’s position over our own. Spending millions and millions has bought us nothing. Arsenal have won premier Leagues and fa cups and there fans whine about not winning something in 7 seasons! Oh no, what have we won recently?


  32. We`ve signed two players with dubious injury records. Both of them could be injured and out for a long period of time with their track record. Gosling has not played for ages and Ben Arfa is returning from a horrendous injury. We get this clown Pardew in the evening chronicle saying he is delighted with his five new players and only needs a striker and left sided player. What planet is he on?

  33. Agree @30 Sirjason, 100%

    Just when will our short-sighted friends wake up to the real world!!

  34. My Worst fear summed up by Partridge the Yes Man in todays Chronicle.

    Pardew told the local Newcastle local press today:

    “We’re all looking forward to getting back to work next Monday.” “The squad is looking healthy and, hopefully, there are still one or two to come.”

    “They won’t be in before July 4, but we hope to get one in before the tour of America – and there could well be one after the tour.”

    “We are still looking to get another striker – whether or not they will wear No 9, we will have to see.”

    Couldn’t make this crap up.

  35. Kamar,

    Ya’ wasting ya’ breath mate.

    Presumption, assumption & speculation are the order of the day & have set in peoples minds.
    Nowt’s gonna change that.
    Change is so rare that when it has actually taken place, then don’t go expecting further change for a few decades.

    “Look, i did change, back in the ’00’s & look where it got us”.


  36. Kamar says:

    “I think we will be a cross between Everton, Villa and Spurs with the odd gifted player or two, safe from relegation, no hope for champions league but a modest bet for a cup”

    Thats it in a nutshell ! We’ll never shake the Top 4 off their perches and it wont even be a roller coaster ride either.

    Thanks Kamar I suppose many of us secretly knew that already :(