Is a Biblical rinse underway at Newcastle United?

Posted on June 18th, 2011 | 72 Comments |

A new era at Newcastle United?
All aboard the ark
Is Newcastle United embarking upon a ‘new era’? This humble blogger thinks so and attempts to quantify some of the changes that mark this new era.

Remember when God supposedly gave us all a rinse, rebooting mankind with Noah and what must have been an exceedingly large ark? I get the impression that a similar process is underway at Newcastle United at the moment. A kind of ‘out with the old and in with the new’ situation. It seems like the Good Lord Ashley and Archangel Llambias are doing some smiting and rebuilding the club in their own image (and didn’t Ashley smite Pestilence when he got rid of Dennis Wise?).

The obvious smiting begins with Nolan’s move to West Ham, Barton’s disappearing contract, the possible departure of players like Enrique, Jonas and Best (and, yes, I admit it’s only speculated that they’ll go at the moment), all seemingly replaced by an influx of Frenchmen. The wisdom of tearing out the crux of the team that got us promoted and established us once again as a Premier League side remains to be seen. The proof of the pudding is in the eating as they say (or in just being edible if it’s one of my wife’s puddings) and we’ll know over the next season or two whether Ashley’s gamble has paid off.

However, I think there are more fundamental changes afoot too, which some people might find controversial and others will certainly outright disagree with. What I’m talking about is Mike Ashley’s commitment to the club. I believe he has committed to Newcastle United for the longer term and is now prepared to make a good fist of running things rather than simply selling up as soon as it’s financially viable for him to do so.

Note that I’m not passing judgement as to whether or not I think it’s a good thing that Ashley may be here for the longer term – at least not yet – I’m merely stating that that’s how I read the situation by the way things are going. I could be being hoodwinked by Ashley of course, in which case I’ll look a bigger ass than normal, but I am of the opinion that it is no longer Mike Ashley’s priority to get shot of Newcastle United.

I’m sure the thought of that will raise horror akin to a jalapeño enema in some people, whereas others will no doubt be pleased.

Which brings me on to number twos and thus – with that rather appropriate phraseology – to Derek Llambias. If I had to pick one gigantic testicle amongst all the bollocks that Mike Ashley has dropped during his tenure at our club, it would be that he didn’t appoint a football-savvy chairman. Now, I know from first-hand experience that all the stuff gurus say about successful business being 10% inspiration 90% perspiration is basically guff because it’s at least 50% luck. However, Mike Ashley has billions and I’m inclined to admit he might know a thing or two about businesses that goes beyond luck. He has however confessed that he doesn’t (or at least didn’t) have a clue how to run a football club and I reckon if he had appointed a chairman who did then he would have avoided a lot of problems.

As far as I can see, the contribution Llambias makes to Newcastle is smaller than a pair of stripper’s knickers and I’d be pleased if any ‘new era’ in the club didn’t include him. It seems to me he’s just a clone of Ashley with broadly the same skill-set who would be better off elsewhere. The Amazon perhaps.

Then of course we come to the manager, where perhaps we are to presume that part of the ‘new era’ has already happened when Pardew replaced Hughton. I’m not ready to judge Pardew yet. I thought the summer would be an important time in that respect but it seems to me he has little influence on the transfer process. I could be wrong of course but I’m just reading things as I see them. Pardew may well have been saying Carroll wasn’t for sale to build up his price; he may have ‘promised’ to make the renewing of Nolan’s and Barton’s ‘a priority’ as some sort of planned misdirection; it may just be that the situation changed between him saying one thing and another. But I don’t believe that – I think he was simply out of the loop.

Thusly I think Ashley has made Pardew look a bit of a berk and Pardew himself can’t really be judged on the transfers we make this summer. He will instead have to be judged on what happens on the pitch, which means giving him some time next season. As an aside, although I’m not known for my precognitive abilities (in fact my post-cognitive ones are bad enough), I’d have a little side bet that Pardew won’t last another 18 months, but we’ll see.

The upshot is that I think great change is afoot at the Toon and I’m caught between whistling “The Times They Are A-Changin’” and “There May Be Trouble Ahead“, although it will certainly be interesting either way. I’ll keep an eye out for rainbows.

What do you think?

NUFCBlog Author: Hugh de Payen I'm a baby-boomer of the punk rock persuasion, currently exiled in Somerset for crimes committed in a previous life where locals keep trying to poison me with something called 'scrumpy'. Hates sprouts, coat-hangers, Cilla Black, ornaments, Steven Seagull movies and 50 Cent (he's not worth 10). Hugh de Payen has written 634 articles on this blog.

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72 Responses

  1. There is no god, never was & never was be.

    I’m really worried that we won’t be able to slag the club off soon.

  2. Fat Mike here for the long term? Lets pray for a no. Although some pretty good business signings this week (and a meaningless sale) the fact is that we are a selling club generating transfer profit every year. Buy young bargains, sell them for more and stay out of the relegation zone. That is his business strategy, and these ambitions is too low for such a big club. If he gets a high offer he will off course sell, and we all know from City and Cheski what a jackpot owner can mean for PL title races. Fat Mike get out of our club !

  3. another doomongering article, grow up man.

    support yr club and stop whinging.

    or yeah cus ashley is this devil incarnate from the south who travelled up north just to spend 200 million pounds and run a club to the ground just to sell it for 50 pence.

    use yr freaking head man,

  4. That’s a mighty fine read. I think you’re right as well. Even with the past as a gauge, it’s very hard to know where we’re heading under Mike Ashley. I’ve never been anti-Ashley, but I’ve certainly never been pro-Ashley either.

    Could it be that he’s starting to lean his trade?

    Personally, I think that he’s a little too involved for somebody who has admitted that he doesn’t know how to run a football club, so the best bit of business he could do this close season is appoint a chairman who does, and then maybe take more of a back seat.

    It’s pretty hard to be too down on him at the moment, as we have bought in some very good signings very quickly and with little fuss. There are also a surprising number of people who have taken the club’s side over the Nolan sale. Slowly but surely, it looks like there is growing support for our owner. Who’d a thunk it??

  5. It’s been blatantly & patently obvious that ashley is here for some time, for, well, er…some time!
    Even blind pew could see it!


  6. was it a doom monger article? I must of read it wrong :)

    Barton reckons “Barton told Sky Sports News: “I’ve heard a few rumours about players getting signed and they seem to be good quality players, so if they can add to what we’ve already got at the football club, then so be it.

    maybe after the few cheap and free signings were ready to push on and buy a few decent player..

    I personally think things are looking good at the toon. We must retain Barton tho as a priority, even for just this season..


  7. good article. not doom mongering at all. a good read. it seems we have our heads screwed on in recent times regarding the players coming in. we do need a top quality striker coming through the door and a few reinforcements here or there but i can see us pushing on from where we finished last season. people will come around if ashley keeps up with his plan. he is slowly but surely turning himself and this club around. i wish people just had patience. DL is a massive stroker. i wish he would leave.

  8. Aye,
    don’t think it was a doomy post Hugh, some do tend to take you the wrong way sometimes mate.
    Pay ’em nee heed marra, we knaa what ya’ mean.

  9. whats with all the hate for Llambias

    At the end of the day he just does what Ashley tells him.

    Ashley is doing a decent job of our club, i know alot of fans r desperate to see sum of that 35 million but lets not just spend for the sake of spending. If we can bring good players in for cheap then we should do it for sure.

    i just hope the fans dont start moaning and doom mongerring if we dont spend all of the 35 mill.

  10. With regards Llambias, what if he was all Ashley could get to be our chairman, what if like other managers, Ashley wasn’t willing to pay stupid wages to a proper chairmen, so Llambias is all he could get & will be stuck with until the club is sold or he leaves for pastures new!!!

  11. Anyone know anything about a 7m bid for Colo that we turned down cos it’s too low….?? He’s one player i’d really not want to leave.

  12. ‘calm down’, I didn’t think it was particularly doom-mongering, more a case of ‘wait and see’.

    I do actually try to mix optimism with pessimism in equal amounts in my articles, which reflects my typically ‘on the fence’ viewpoint.

  13. Hugh,

    Whatever people may think of Ashley he is no mug.

    He has made himself very rich and his company are doing very well, unlike the company that was owned by his sworn enemy Dave Whelan. According to the FT, Sports Direct employees recently got almost the equivalent of their annual salaries as an incentive bonus. I read somewhere that all the new player contracts are highly incentivized.

    I’m convinced Ashley will make Newcastle United one of the most financially successful clubs in England, if not the most financially successful.

    We might not win any trophies however, but then again that should be nothing new to the fans.

    I’m convinced that the UEFA Fair Play rules have a major bearing upon the recent transfer activity.

    Simply, the UEFA rules are to quote:

    ‘Clubs must provide detailed accounts each season. Must not run at a loss. This includes debt repayments, so significant borrowing linked to clubs will become extremely damaging. Loans from benefactors or owners are also no longer allowed, at least not to cover wages or transfer fees. Owners may only purchase permanent shares in a club, and not loan funds.

    Investors will still be able to put money into a club for “long term projects”, this could include training facilities or stadium development for example. Loans must not be used for paying wages or the transfer of players. All clubs who wish to participate in European competition in the 2012/13 season must be fully compliant.’

  14. Bassong. Taylor. N zogbia and Sturridge will do for me and maybe a decent right back as well. Depending on Enrique not going ( big hope ) And other first teamers

  15. top read mate you are spot on with the description of dezza lamearse but i have a feeling this could be a half decent season for us me thinking top 10 easy +good quality footy on the way

  16. Kamar:
    very interesting snippet regarding the new financial rules, I had not seen that anywhere. I guess Man City and Chelski fans better enjoy it while they can then eh? I believe we are trimming our wage structure and playing staff accordingly and we will be exceptionally well placed when these rules come in. If thats what Ashley is doing, he obviously must fancy us for a dabble at this ‘European Football in 2012 / 2013’…….. just a hope/dream.
    Good article mate.

  17. We love the club. Not the players or the owners. They will both come and go but the club is forever. I hope the lads we get want to play for the shirt. Thats what get me up at 4am to watch the games in Australia

  18. Pardew is definitely in control of transfers to a large extent. He has been personally watching these players over the last 6 months.

  19. Hugh

    Whadda you ! reading my mail or something ?
    At lest you are reading my posts as i wrote a very similar post recently.
    And therefore agree for the most part.
    Yeah it’s my conclusion that both Llambias & Pardew are empty suits, not unlike boggle head dolls who do the yes sir nod to every (control freak) Ashley comment.
    And this club will never have real success until Ashley hires and hands over the reins to a competent pair that has a money man plus a footballing man (a Comoli & Dalglish)

    Though i have to say, i am not upset by the present comings and goings and will judge the side by the beggining of the season.
    It appears we are infor a better style of football, as we could’nt be worse than the (old Bolton style)football of last season, plus the uncertainty of which team was going to show up?

    As for what we may disagree on !
    The selling of the club ?
    That remains a question still, no doubt had you asked me that question at the beginning of last season, i would have answered yes, for any decent bid on offer.
    But now, especially following the beggining of what could be a complete overhaul of the side “i hae ma doots”
    I see Ashley as a very tough and ego driven guy who is out to prove he can make this club a success.
    He has learned over the last coupla years and has a plan.
    The original plan of bringing in future stars through the youth system is a lottery, even Mam.U’s youngsters dont always make it.
    Now it’s that “not quite a star” , yet obviousle getting there, who can provide two or three years of good service and be sold on at a profit, a conveyor belt system.
    Not unlike the “Rag Trade” which he obviously knows well, with it’s buy cheap, sell high.
    If or when this comes to fruition i would’nt bet against him selling, as i dont believe he has the same affection for the club as most fans.
    Of course i left out one important point, he wants his money back most of all !
    And I’m sure there’s an “In your face” attitude for all the fans who turned against him , following that brief honeymoon drinking pints with them, that and a refusal to admitt he blew it!

  20. i think ashley is very shrew when it comes to signings now, 3 quality players for less than 5 mill ,heres a link of sylain the guy looks good , jonas will have some competition now and i think that,ll be the window shut for zog, lets just hope with him getting a few free transfers he,ll spend big on a quality striker ( i can allways dream eh )

  21. On the squad/team side of things… well, we’ve got 3 good players in and – if you include the sale of Nolan – have barely even touched any of the 35M. So if the team spirit from last season can be maintained then we could be in good shape. I’m hoping for stability too though, so in that respect probably hope Pardew remains for a long time if he proves himself over the next year. Also, I reckon we should do a U-turn and offer Barton a contract that’ll keep him with us til he’s, say, 31-ish. Not likely, I know. And at least keep a nucleus of our team from last year amongst the new faces.

    Oh, also think we should decide to keep either Ranger or Best.

    If we have a good enough squad then we can mostly forget who the owner (and boardroom ‘puppets’) are.

    We probably needed to have a mini revolution in the transfer market if we’re to hope to be in the top 8 or so. It could go either way, of course, but it makes life interesting!

  22. Hugh…you obviously find it hard to give Pardew ANY credit at the club…

    You start a sentence “I’m not gonna judge Pardew yet”…then you do just that, and give him no credit.

  23. Adam, I see no reason why we shouldn’t make the top 8 ? (at least 5 – 8, 1-4 no way Jose, mainly due to the financial clout of the “top” clubs !)

  24. Munich Mag, I tentatively agree though it might take a further 2 seasons.

    By the way, I’ve only just noticed that we haven’t allocated a number 9 shirt to anyone yet. Hints at a “top” striker signing to come?

  25. Not sure that you can slag MA off. When he bought us we were financially f+*@ed and has turned us around to almost breaking even!! Football is business

  26. I have no problem with us buying quality players that are not costing us anything in fees. I dont think we need to spend 35 mill or whatever just because we have it. Most of the time whenever we spend over 10 mill for a player he turns out to be crap.

    Never heard of the Sylvain guy we just bought but there are two ways too look at it. We had an eye on him the whole time and got him quickly and quietly or we just saw he failed a medical and was free and snapped him up. I hope it is the former.

    I hate to say it but we the fans are like children and what we want is not always what we need. We want millions spent on big name signings and we want constant info from the manager but at the end of the day Pardew talking a lot but not saying anything may help us bag shrewd bargains and players that dont come with a $10 mill ego.

  27. I thought hugh’s artical was far from doomsday, and quite fair: and also liked comments relating to UEFA finance rules about owners not ploughing money into transfers/wages (might explain why cash was spent upgrading facilities instead – legal by the rules – and creates a ground that impresses new talent on arrival, with Cabaye stating just that).

    I like the way the transfer policy is operating, although free players with some injury concerns should hopefully not be WHOLLY DEPENDED UPON – i.e, don’t sell Jonas with Marveaux as a replacement, if there’s any danger of him not playing a full season.

    I think Pardieu does have a say in new talent, plus obviously the scouts, but i did hear an interesting rumour recently:

    Pards ran up massive debt in a casino, Ashley bailed him out, and now Pards is managing for very little income – instead paying off this debt which no doubt saved him some broken thumbs!

    I also know a fairly scandalous tale about Ashley (the source and truth a lot more dependable) – but i dont care to write it, as the club is blossoming in this window – AND I THINK WE SHOULD ALL GET BEHIND CLUB/OWNER/MANAGER – BRING ON NEXT SEASON!!!!

  28. What are the odds on both Colocinni and Jonas going along with the commonly accepted Enrique loss ?
    Would rather see The Zog playing on the left wing, especially since we have Marveaux to fill the left inside role.
    Hell we have a whole slew of Midfielders, lost count, i suspect there will be a few sales before the season starts.
    We could be looking at for the most part a completely new side and hopefully a better quality of football.

    Question is with only Taylor (so far) being brought in, what about defense ?
    I want Izaguirre to replace Enrique,
    ” ” Bassong ” ” Colocinni, if he goes.
    Get rid of Williamson, he’s not going to get any better.
    Hold onto Perch, good utility player, but we need quality in defense, as most top sides (except Arsenal) build from the back.

  29. Yeah great business! two top players for nowt (free agents)and a full French international for around £5M.
    Think Marvieux at around £5 or £6m. leaving £10m. to go plus received monies from tranfers.
    Canny bit of business, apparently the scouting homework had been done, just a case of getting it done early and aggressively.
    However until we have an idea of the contracts, (free agents have the advantage of demanding more)and the over all wage bill, will it be apparent whether it was good business or not.
    But ya gotta spend money to make money.
    This is by far the most interesting summer in the last few years.

  30. Milner @ 32

    I like your ‘…I think Pardieu..’

    Aleady getting into the old franglais mes amie?

    Very bon

  31. Trouble is, Ashley ne sait rien de football.

    Getting shot of the high earners who just happen to be our top players and replacing them with cheaper to run foreign imports, is that just business, being astute? I’d bet you a million quid its got nowt to do with football or future success. He’s gambling again by raping the team and taking the piss out of us all – Encore une fois!

  32. Hoolie

    Yes of course, getting rid of the highly compensated and older players for, (in the words of Joey) younger, cheaper and better and do you have a problem with that ?
    That’s how the system works, no room for sentimentality and if you think Nolan got a raw deal, £55k. per week for the next five years, aint hay !
    He, Nolan was gone almost as fast as Carroll, without the helicopter, after all £4 aint £35 is it?
    He, Nolan will be kissing the W/Ham badge next game and it will be Wecastle who ?
    cie le vie, mon ami!

  33. Kamar @35, sorry to disappoint but “Pardieu” was lifted straight outta the current bun, a few weeks back when Gamerio was a target…

    Chuck @ 33 “Question is with only Taylor (so far) being brought in, what about defense ?”

    We havn’t signed Neil Taylor yet have we?? with all that’s going on i wondered if i’d missed it?

    Colo has to stay IMO, him and Saylor have some history together and thats invaluable in defensive terms. I’d like Upson brought in on a free, if Willo goes…

  34. Milner:
    Upson is shite, and one of th emain reasons West Ham went down. Christ even Best took him apart at SJP last season. No thanks, let see some DECENT players arriving, as they appear to be. Upson isnt one of them. Just because he is free, doesnt mean he is worth having, after all, they dont seem to have a queue of clubs wanting him?

  35. lynxie – i happen to agree with u, I used to laugh at how shite Upson was and prayed he’d never get back in an England shirt – but he did score an important header for England no long ago…and hopefully with age his bungles would get ironed out with a more senior steady head.

    But i think ur prob right – i’m getting too carried away with free players policy!

  36. Alreet Hoy (Chuck)

    Remember – Ashley’s made all his money by ripping people off. I get the feeling he’s been doing that to us from the start and he won’t be going anywhere until he gets his money back – and more out of us. I’m not being sentimental, it just stinks when I see our best players going, the only reason being that they are highly compensated.
    Still, lets just see what the Frogs are made of before we start bubbling.

    Allez the lads!

  37. Hoolie says:
    June 18, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    “Remember – Ashley’s made all his money by ripping people off.”

    50% off tags attached to his shite before it has even left the sweatshop.

  38. for Lynx: a list of our top Freeby Targets:

    Pantsil, 30
    Upson, 32
    Zoltan Gera
    Nigel Reo-Coker
    Ricardo Gardener (think he failed medical somewhere)
    Seb Larsson
    Kingson (blackpool)
    john Spector (w.ham)

    other than Larsson, I think we’ve gotta be happy with our bargains and now look to spend a little money.

  39. I would take Zoltan Gera like, he is a decent player, who scores goals and is a better option than Guthrie……

  40. Hugh, I don’t see this article as being negative at all. In fact, it is a first class read laced with excellent and most enjoyable humour. The kind that gets one out of bed on a Saturday morning and after making a cup of tea one wants to read. My feeling, as an absent but hopelessly passionate fan, is that for all the frustrations that the board have brought to the fans over the past couple of years, they are in the process of giving us a much better football club than we had when they took over. Actually, should the day ever arise, I look forward to the time when Mike Ashley (I’m less bothered by his “gigantic testicle”) can once again stand amongst the fans and have them all support the lads together. Success on the pitch, and at least one trophy, must of course come first. HWTL!

  41. Paul in Hollywood says:
    June 18, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    “for all the frustrations that the board have brought to the fans over the past couple of years, they are in the process of giving us a much better football club than we had when they took over.”

    Paul, Starting from a Freddy Shepherd / Douglas Hall baseline, I suppose that it would be hard not to. However I still think that Ashley and Llambias could manage this feat with just a few more catastrophic bungles, or if a one or two of the previous ones turn out badly in the fullness of time.

  42. Milner says:
    June 18, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    “i reminder to any forgetful types that tomoz is father’s day:”

    Milner, Me fatha’s deed now, so I don’t have to worry on that score.

  43. I hate Mike Ashley.
    The Carroll money will be spent on tea bags and sports direct banners for the stadium.
    Fat prick.

  44. worky, sorry to hear that mate, my old dear’s gone so all i got is the old fella – i was born on his 40th bday (what a present that was!) – and he’s 71 now….that’s a lot of years of black and white pain – i hope this season is a good ‘un to get the old fella jumping with joy again (like the arsenal 4-4 game i saw with him, he didn’t look 71 when Tiote creamed that volley!!)

    Howay the Dads – wherever u are!

  45. sirjasontoon says:
    June 18, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    “The Carroll money will be spent on tea bags and sports direct banners for the stadium.
    Fat prick.”

    Tea bags????

  46. Milner says:
    June 18, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    “worky, sorry to hear that mate”

    It was a while ago now Milner. I still divven’t like it when ‘Father’s Day’ and ‘Mother’s Day’ come around though because it just reminds me.

  47. Bravo Hughie!what an article!so funny yet so poignant.when it comes to our beloved club you never know what you’re gonna get after all.the ending really sums it up.we could be headed for a brighter future or for never ever know.and i guess that’s the charm of the club…except when you’re geriatric.then it’s a risk especially if you have a dodgy heart

  48. Hugh, nowt wrong with fence sitting or with a Jalapeno enema, just don’t do both at the same time. :)

    If you go on body language then you would have to feel that Ashley does want the Toon to do well, I thought he looked genuinely excited at some of the games, not a guy sitting in the crowd on sufferance.

    Addmittedly we are buying cheap, but it does look like quality cheap and providing we can keep players on the pitch then there should be a good return pointswise (as opposed to resale value) for next season.

    The close season stateside trip should be a good bedding in exercise to set the team up.

    Nice to see the transfers happening at the sharp end rather than last minute deals as per usual.

  49. with less than 2 months before the season begins again (yay!) – what’s our current line up? :


    Simpson – Colo – Saylor – New LB/Izaguerrio?

    BenArfa – Cabaye – Tiote – Marveaux

    Ba – Ameobie (1 or 2)

    Subs: Joans, Barton, Gosling/Gutherie, Abeid, Raylor/ Willo.

    Look about right? Obviously we’d be hoping for at least a new striker in that mix – Erdinc being most likely.

  50. milner,
    that ‘revelation’ up there ^^^^^ (@32) that you imparted on us is ancient history mate, or should i say ‘myth’?
    Soz like.


  51. the thing that worries me is that mystical “squad harmony” – how can a group of players settle and learn to work together when they bloody sell them all?

    what alarms me more is the selling of the good player, whilst keeping the dross (Simpson and Guthrie being prime examples in my opinion) surely we should be building around a strong nucleus?

    I dont know what the board are doing, sometimes I wonder if THEY know what they are doing – but Fat Mike must be getting a canny chateau out of all these deals for garlic-munchers….

  52. MonkeySan says:
    June 19, 2011 at 7:57 am

    “the thing that worries me is that mystical “squad harmony” – how can a group of players settle and learn to work together when they bloody sell them all?

    what alarms me more is the selling of the good player, whilst keeping the dross (Simpson and Guthrie being prime examples in my opinion) surely we should be building around a strong nucleus?”

    Absolutely correct MonkeySan. I couldn’t have put it better myself, although “dross” maybe a little strong in terms of Simpson and Guthrie.

  53. maybe a little harsh, but they are certainly no better than “average” players

    I would be very shocked to see Jose still here for the start, on the same count I think Colo will stay loyal as he has been integral to our defensive line

    as for the rest – mist aswell throw darts at a board (or at THE board, but I think there are laws about that these days)

  54. looks like james perch wants away …..aswell………hopefully simpson can do a bit better as senior rb, with young james tavernier snapping at his arse.jose e, looks like he is off but not sure if young fergison could fill it yet.

  55. stevo says:
    June 20, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    “looks like james perch wants away …..aswell”

    Has there been any more about that stevo? Because the only thing I could find was the Sunday Stun saying that he’s changing his agent therefore he must want out of Newcastle, or something like that anyway.