A younger fan’s perspective on the Mike Ashley situation…

It all seems a bit doom and gloom at the moment at Newcastle United. We all know the situation at hand, with Mike Ashley again failing to keep his promises and not handing Rafa a penny to spend in the transfer market. Unfortunately, this seems a recurring nightmare, and it’s safe to say we know no different of Mike Ashley, having endured the worst during his 11-year reign.

As a young fan, I know no different of Newcastle United.

I’ve been told, heard about, and watched clips of our “glory days”, the Keegan and Robson era most commonly magnified by my dad. The days when Shearer and Ferdinand lined up ahead of Ginola and Asprilla, when we would beat teams like Barcelona and thump ones like Man United.

Nowadays, however, we are far from that team. Nowadays we go into every season with the aim of survival, to keep us generating enough money to fill Mr. Ashley’s big, big pockets. The lack of ambition from him that we see is astonishing. To have a manager of the calibre of Rafa Benitez, and to have the fanbase the size of ours, yet still be aiming to finish only 17th, is awful.

Which brings me onto the current situation that we have. As mentioned, all I’ve ever known is Mike Ashley, so this transfer window is not really a surprising one for myself. In my lifetime we have never once had a really great, productive transfer window. The best one I can remember is the summer window of 2015, when we spent £40 Million on Wijnaldum, Mitrovic and Thauvin. That season we were relegated and it’s fair to say we were all brought back to reality.

Having seen events unfold last year, with Rafa given very little to spend upon our return to the Premier League, there wasn’t one part of me that believed this year would be different.

The real problem this year comes with our greatest asset. The problem that arises out of all of this is that we could lose one of the best managers in the world because we have one of the worst owners in the world. I do not want to bore anybody with the details of this feud, as we’ve heard it all before, primarily I want to give my take on it.

Rafa is the best Newcastle manager I’ve ever seen. He has done all that Ashley has asked of him and has even done it on a profit. He has a loving relationship with the fans and the players and I can’t quite understand how letting Rafa go would be beneficial for Mike Ashley and his business.

However, I believe that this summer’s transfer window will not, at all, be as bad as we currently perceive it to be. I think that over the course of time we will find that this transfer window proved significant in the changing of times at our club.

There are a few different scenarios that could take place.

The first being that inevitably Ashley doesn’t give Rafa further backing this summer, Rafa survives next season (I don’t think at all that we will be relegated with Rafa in charge) and then walks. With the new #IfRafaGoesWeGo initiative (which I think is a brilliant idea, and am very excited about) in my opinion this will act as a catalyst for change, as it will only enhance the anger and frustration already felt, and with enough protesting/boycotting, change will eventually come. Whilst the short-term effects may be brutal, I believe the long-term effects if Rafa were to leave would indeed be positive.

The second scenario also involves the #IfRafaGoesWeGo project.

No matter how much we spend this summer, it will still carry on just as ferociously. Of course, if Ashley doesn’t spend then he will be adding fuel to the already growing fire. If this project were to gain publicity in the coming season, first nationwide and hopefully further than that, it could be a force for serious change.

Just imagine if Toon fans across the country blockaded Sports Direct shops for a day, or we went down to London on an away day and protested over there, blocking off roads and gaining attention. As far as I see it, this can only be seen as a huge, huge positive. What this would do is two separate things.

Firstly, bringing enough worldwide attention to our club (and the fiercely loyal fanbase) may well attract overseas investors, to come in and save our club from Ashley.

Secondly, it puts so much pressure on Ashley himself. If we protest enough, and really make our voices heard, then I really believe that the current situation we have this summer with Mike Ashley and Rafa Benitez will never occur again.

I read an article a few days ago, which highlighted what happened at West Ham last season. They were run very similarly to us at the moment. They did spend a fair bit of money, but regardless of this, the fans were disgruntled. They took action and now this year they have spent £80+ Million. I am not saying we should throw coins at Mr Ashley (come on guys, he really doesn’t need more money) or anything like that, but if we make our voices heard then Ashley has to break at some point.

To conclude, if there were one message for you to take from this article, it would be that the Mike Ashley and Rafa Benitez situation is not all doom and gloom. I think that we will look back on this summer’s transfer window in five years time and say “wow, that did make a difference.” Whether Ashley begins to spend this August, or he doesn’t spend at all and inadvertently amplifies the protests from our beloved fanbase.

Only time will tell with Rafa Benitez. The situation at hand is a tricky one to navigate, especially for a manager used to having money to spend at top four competitive clubs, but I believe that he will stay. If a new owner comes in next season, it’s a win-win situation, if that doesn’t though , but the fans convince him to stay, then we will have done more than our part.

In Rafa we trust.

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Ross Harrison