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Pundit’s Choice: Mike Ashley

Pundit’s Choice: Mike Ashley

Newcastle United supporters have been very downbeat in recent times after seeing their side enter the two-week break for internationals having failed to win any of their opening eight Premier League matches.

Rafa Benitez’s men went into their encounter with Manchester United at Old Trafford on October 6 having picked up just two points from a possible 21 prior to that trip, and thus in dire need of a positive result from their meeting with Jose Mourinho’s Red Devils. And at 2-0 up after just ten minutes, things looked good for the Magpies, only to concede three times in the final 20 minutes to thus go down 3-2 to the North West giants, and leave Benitez’s team winless heading into the season’s second international break.

Thus, there have been many disappointed Newcastle fans up and down the country in recent times, several of whom are likely to be intrigued by recent comments from The Sun journalist and Magpies fan Neil Custis (via The Sunday Supplement), in which he states that owner Mike Ashley is ‘toxic for the football club and has been for a long time’.

And such has been the level of frustration and anger among supporters towards Ashley for much of his time in charge of the North West heavyweights, it’s difficult to argue with Custis’ scathing assessment of the Newcastle man.

Ultimately, 54-year-old Ashley took over at St James’ Park back in 2007 and simply hasn’t shown or provided the level of investment needed to take Newcastle forward in those 11 years, to the point that they have twice been relegated under his watch.

And for a club battling near the top of the Premier League in the early part of the millennium, and one that has won four First Division titles and six FA Cup crowns in its history, that simply isn’t good enough – the blame firmly lies at the feet of Ashley.

Yet things have been even more magnified in the last few years given the club showed huge ambition to convince Benitez to make the move to the North East, and while he wasn’t able to keep them in the top-flight back in 2016, he returned them just a year later after surprisingly sticking with them in the Championship.

Thus, with the calibre of manager at their disposal, alongside the support base and the infrastructure, Newcastle looked set for a bright future under the Spaniard, only for Ashley to fail to back the 58-year-old in the subsequent transfer windows, indeed making a profit from player sales in the most recent summer market.

And while Benitez worked miracles to lead them to tenth place last term, the fact they are winless and already languishing in the bottom three this time round underlines just how much they needed a high level of investment during the summer, as this Newcastle side looks set for a relegation battle this term.

And the finger can only really be pointed at owner Ashley, who Custis rightly points out has ‘drained the hope out’ of Newcastle during his time in charge, and as such has been incurring the wrath of supporters for many years now.

And given how much their football club has fallen under the 54-year-old, despite in its current state possessing the world-class manager needed to take them back towards the upper echelons of the division, those fans have every right to voice their discontent.

As such, Custis’ scathing assessment of Ashley is absolutely spot on, and will likely resonate with Newcastle fans up and down the country.

Newcastle fans… what do you think? Let us know!

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