The Newcastle ‘Who Are You?’: sense & folly, passion & poison

Michael Hudson* is the man behind the Accidental Groundhopper blog on non-league football and also our guest Mag ahead of Saturday’s game. And he is already a contributor to Salut! Sunderland. Before his excitable co-supporters cry treason, let it be said that his scholarly but also entertaining piece on the first Wear-Tyne derby – 1644, reputedly a narrow Sunderland win – appeared at our request. Today, he talks of Mike Ashley’s mixture of sense and nonsense, the despair he’d feel if Newcastle were taken over by super-rich owners and his belief that the battle between Cattermole and Tiote could decide the match …

You promised to be a model of politeness unless I asked about Mike Ashley. Sorry, but what do you really think about him?

Firstly, you have to put Ashley into his proper context. Newcastle United have rarely, if ever, been a properly run football club and Ashley’s no worse than Shepherd, McKeag or, back in my dad’s youth, Lord Westwood. I actually think Ashley has some sensible ideas – ending the ruinous expense on the likes of Michael Owen, for instance, or this season’s introduction £100 season tickets for under-16s, but, overall, I don’t think he understands enough about the way football works to run a club effectively. The fact he bought Newcastle without bothering to do due diligence tells you everything you need to know.

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