Sorry, but Ashley makes Newcastle United a laughing stock again


Salut! Sunderland believes there should be banter between Sunderland and Newcastle United fans, and that this is entirely healthy and human but should not descend into barbarian tribalism. When we write about the Mags – and why in heaven’s name should a football site not do so? – it is not surprising that United fans should come here to see what has been said, and perhaps to have a go back. Some responses are witty or intelligent, a few are humourless or neanderthal, and I imagine it would be the same the other way round. Here, our mysterious Birflatt Boy makes some telling points about goings-on up the road …

In the world of football it’s rare if not unprecedented for there to be unanimity and consensus about anything.

It might be the performance of a particular player last weekend or whether a penalty decision should have been given the other way, or something more trivial.

Regardless of the topic, any debate is routinely spawned by a difference of opinion.

When Tony Blair decided that it was a good idea for our forces to invade Iraq I don’t recall encountering a single individual who thought that it was a good idea, irrespective of political persuasion, age, gender or whatever, regardless of political persuasion, age, gender, or whatever. This is unusual in the extreme, where seemingly everyone apart from the person making the decision thinks that it’s a bad idea.

Leaders in politics, business and indeed sport need to be bold in their thinking and often need to act, taking the ruthless decisions which would make others shudder.

You’d think that Mike Ashley’s decision to jettison Chris Hughton yesterday was on par with Blair’s commitment to war, if you looked at the reaction in the media, and on various websites etc.

It isn’t of course and no matter how much you may be offended at the dismissal of a decent bloke who seemed to be doing a pretty good job, these events can not and should not be compared with the momentous decisions which took the nation to war. Foolishness and boldness are close cousins.

It’s easy to criticise and condemn Mike Ashley for the simple reason that he has made some of the most ill conceived and ridiculous decisions that have ever been made in a football club boardroom.

The problem that he had with Chris Hughton was simply that he didn’t choose him. Hughton took control in the wake of Joe Kinnear’s illness and then the ill-fated experiment with Shearer and Dowie. Hughton happened to be there. The dignified, professional and quiet approach he took provided not only a period of stability but considerable success for NUFC and indeed for Mike Ashley.

It seems that it’s the very stability and decency that Hughton brought to the manager’s job that has offended Messrs Ashley and Llambias the most.

Hughton’s considered attitude and demeanour delivered dignity to a club which had become and has now been resurrected as English football’s laughing stock. Ashley is repelled by decency. The amiable Kevin Keegan was outflanked by Ashley’s appointment of Dennis Wise, better known for his altercation with a taxi driver (the assault conviction and jail sentence were overturned on appeal) than for any achievement in football.

Keegan was ousted shortly after he had replaced Sam Allardyce, despite his widespread popularity. Keegan was replaced by the man now referred to most frequently by the initials JFK, a moniker he was given for a foul mouthed tirade which included calling one journalist a c***.

There appears to be a trend here. Replace a fans’ favourite with a complete nonentity and see what happens. Keegan followed by Kinnear, followed by Shearer, followed by Hughton.

The difficulties faced by Chris Hughton were not that he was incompetent when he was fired, it was simply that he turned out to be very competent when he was given the job in the first place, whose stock is now higher than ever.

Ashley’s problem is that he can’t tell the difference, and seems to revel in the chaos and animosity which continue to be directed towards him. At this point he has become so vilified by what should be his own public that the task presented to the new manager is one of Herculean proportions.

The players appear ready to revolt and whoever the next manager at St James’ Park might be he will be regarded as Ashley’s puppet, although invariably he will become Ashley’s scapegoat, even if it’s only in his own eyes. Even if he manages to make what should be a good managerial appointment he has created those conditions which will almost assuredly make it a bad one.

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26 thoughts on “Sorry, but Ashley makes Newcastle United a laughing stock again”

  1. From the BBC. I had to laugh at his comments. Sacked at a Third Division club to one of the top 5 clubs in England! 🙂

    Alan Pardew has admitted that other managers have questioned his decision to become the new boss at Newcastle.

    The Magpies, who controversially sacked Chris Hughton on Monday, have used seven different managers over the last five-and-a-half years.

    “I’ve had a lot of texts from managers saying ‘you must be mad going there’,” said Pardew, 49, on Thursday.

    “But it’s one of the top five clubs in England. It’s a daunting prospect but something I couldn’t turn down.”

  2. Well the highs of the derby win seem a very long way off now dont they.

    There are a few issues I have with the way NUFC fans project themselves, and one major problem I have with them is the way their already overly inflated egos can get even bigger after a few good results.

    Well I’m pleased to say you have been brought crashing back down to earth and with the probable appointment on the self appriciative Alan Pardew it’s not looking as rosey as it was a few weeks back.

    I started the season hoping that NUFC would survive by the skin of its teeth and that it would be the dawn of the age of SAFC and NUFC battling for a top 10 place and eventually European spots. Most of my mates are skunks so a competative rivalry would be a good thing in my view. After the derby defeat I noticed alot of NUFC fans saying they’re going to finish above us, we’re going to be relegated and various other unsubstantiated claims.

    Well…all I have to say is it’s another fine mess you’ve got them into Ashley…..keep it up!

  3. It is hard to tell on Match of the Day but when the Geordies are yelling the B word at Ashley is it Boo’s or Booze?

  4. Courtesy of the BBC Sport website 8 December.

    “Pardew attracted just 14 votes in a local newspaper poll of Newcastle fans on who they wanted as the new manager. ”

    Over a thousand votes were cast. Welcome to St James Park, Alan. Birflatt thinks he might find it a little drafty up there. There’s going to more than just winter chill in the air! 🙂

  5. When Sunderland supporters start feeling for sorry for the Mags then we are living in strange times. Ashley is the strangest of the strange and makes decisions which are simply comical time and time again. It’s as if he can’t help himself in seeking to attract infamous attention rather than actually achieve anything.

    Pardew? Why not Coppell? He’s been to most of the same places and has more experience. Pardew was sacked from Southampton earlier this season. Show Ashley a barrel and he can’t resist scraping the bottom of it.

  6. If I were a Newcastle supporter the one thing I’d hate more than anything is Sunderland supporters feeling sorry for us – particlarly if we’d just beaten them 5-1 about 6 weeks ago. Yet things up the road have become so bad that this is really happening. Alan Pardew? How gormless can HE get to think that he won’t be virtually hounded out of Newcastle within 6 months? The guy has a track record of failure. He surely cannot be unaware that he isn’t any better than Hughton – and arguably considerably worse. He has absolutely no chance whatsoever of succeeding. If he switches his brain on for 30 seconds he’ll turn down the job without giving it a second thought. I hope for HIS sake he does. For OUR sake? Well that’s another story!

  7. In response to Nathan. The comparison that I was making with Kinnear and Hughton was about Ashley’s perception of Hughton. I think he appointed him because he thought of him as a non-entity. Hughton turned out to have more about him than Ashley could have imagined. To the point where the fellah should have been given a medal rather than his cards. I was pointing to another example of Ashley displaying dreadful judgement.

    Spotlight Kid. No I agree that the decisions made by Blair and Ashley are comparable in terms of stupidity and impetuousness if not in outcome. Both are examples of completely failing to judge the prevailing mood and flying in the face of common sense.

    Moreover, I could have at least understood it had Ashley secured a top notch manager but Alan Pardew? Goodness gracious me! At least Blair’s intervention resulted in Saddam heading for the gallows!

  8. According to a Mag-supporting friend of mine (I’m very tolerant) it’s Ashley’s congenital heavy-handedness and instability that probably did in Chris Hughton. Ashley just couldn’t connect with Hughton’s low-key, not-larded-with-obscenities, non-confrontational approach. It was totally alien to Mad Mike.
    It looks as if Alan Pardew will be the next manager to put himself on the Sid James Park firing line. Hard to see where he’ll be any improvement over Hughton.

  9. Mike Ashley owns Newcastle United bank rolls them and can do exactley what he likes, that is a fact and the outdated historical notion the team represents the city and the people who live in it has no credibility in the 21st centuary. Ashley is a business man with I understand some very unusual and off the wall ideas. Never the less he is connected to Newcastle to make money. He obviously isn’t making any money because his heavy handed management style that works in the rag trade won’t bear fruit in the complex world of football. Yet he appears unable to change, realise the error of his ways or learn by his mistakes. Why does anyone think this is? The team he bought were a solid Prem League team with massive support who were loyal to club branding, ideal for Ashley to make money. He failed miserably as has his club. They were starting to seem on track yet he completely without warning blows the whole thing out of the water by sacking Hughton. Hughton would have kept them up this year no one can really deny that. Now what happens if they go down this or next season who is to blame? It’s his club he can do what he likes and it really does seem he has either a deathwish or a deep rooted hatred of all things Geordie!!!!. The assumption I keep coming back too is the man is unstable mentally and a meglomaniac.

  10. Since Ashley took over the club in 2007 it’s baffled me as to how he has ran a successful business prior and how his other intrests have not folded. I was honestly shocked by Hughton’s departure, does he not understand how Ferguson/Wenger built things at their respective clubs, Fergies now been at United for 24 years, and Wenger 14. It does take time and he has achieved things that didn’t seem possible when he took over from Shearer.

    Ashley seems to have a habit of just getting the fans back on side and the pissing them off again. Appointng Keegan went in his favour but then Wise???

    You would of though by the revolt the first time he would know how passionate fans are in the north east. Again he will tread a thin line, but he’ll be saved by Newcastle fans loyalty, something he would never find if he were at a club like Wigan or Tottenham.

    As big as the rivalry bewteen us and the dirty half Scotts from the tyne is, i personally would like them to stay up. The first thing i look to at the begining of the season is the date of the Derby matches, and hope they finish 17th by the skin of their teeth.

  11. Au contraire, Birflatt Boy, Blair’s decision and Ashley’s decision ARE comparable, if not in importance then in the isolated arrogance that underlies both. Both flew in the face of good sense & reason, and both were motivated by irrational personality traits and a shared joy in the ruthless exercise of power for the sake of it (Lord Acton’s dictum at work).

    Similarly just as the UK’s world stock has plummetted since our shenanigans backing up the Bush clan’s private evangelical crusade in the Middle East, so NUFC will never enjoy a third bite of a cherry it rejected in 2004 when sacking Sir Bobby, only to spit it out again last Monday. To Dunlop & Slazenger, add NUFC to Ashley’s roster of failed brands

    We can only speculate on Ashley’s real objectives here, aside from a deep and bitter hatred of the Newcastle fans for daring to stand up to him (something his downtrodden, discouteous slave army at Sportsdirect seem incapable of), and regard his experiment in running a Premiership club on a cheapskate shoestring as a way of simultaneously gaining experience and unburdening the current club debts in order to sell the Toon & take over a London club.

    Quite how & when NUFC will recover is another matter, but on the positive side this sacking stinks of a new short-term exit strategy being put in place – so we Tynesiders can but but hope he will be off soon as well, and so start repairing the damage done to our club.

  12. Well done Salut for differing between Mike Ashley and Newcastle United… All over the media our clubs name is being dragged through the mud again, but NUFC are much more than just Mike Ashley and its him and him alone who should be the media focus.

    Earlier today i was reading a Spurs blog where fans wished us relegation after this treatment of their former servant, as if the fans of NUFC dont suffer enough with having that fat smurf in charge of our club… People need to understand that Mike Ashley aint and never will be Newcastle United.

  13. I think any Newcastle fan would agree that it’s an absolute shambles and a terrible decision that I still can’t even begin to get my head around.

    Although I disagree about comparing Hughton to Kinnear, I look on at the appointment of Kinnear as one of my most embarrassing times as a Newcastle fan, with Hughton, the fans were calling for him to get the job and were singing his name to the end and will hopefully continue to sing his name, to remind Ashley that he’s an absolute disaster of a chairman.

  14. Salut! Sunderland receives hundreds, often thousands, of visits daily from SAFC and non-SAFC supporters. A few of these visitors leave comments. All – within reason – are welcome but, as an anti-spam precaution. there may be a short delay for moderation if you have not commented previously.

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