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Leaner, meaner and proving the doubters wrong - Mike Ashley's Newcastle United have done it his way

 

The controversial owner has had his critics following the sale of Andy Carroll and a lacklustre summer in the transfer market, but his side can move to third in the Premier League

 

ANALYSIS

By Rob Stewart

 

It seems like a long time since Mike Ashley used to sit amongst Newcastle United supporters but the way things are going at St James’ Park that could be about to change.

 

The Newcastle owner had to stop watching away games with members of the Toon Army as his club was plunged into crisis when Kevin Keegan quit Tyneside three years ago.

 

But now, with Newcastle currently fourth in the Premier League table following their best start to a top-flight season since Keegan’s first spell in charge, even Ashley’s fiercest critics might start changing opinions and welcome him with open arms again on away-day trips.

 

Ashley has had to take plenty of flak since he took over the club four years ago, most notably bringing Dennis Wise to Newcastle and forcing Keegan out, overseeing relegation from the Premier League and latterly failing to replace Andy Carroll following his £35 million sale to Liverpool.

 

His detractors have had plenty of ammunition to fire at the Sports Direct founder but now they may have cause to re-evaluate their assessment of the billionaire businessman, even if he still gets up their noses from his ivory tower following a promising start to the season.

 

With their club remaining unbeaten after five matches of the league season – as well as two League Cup ties – for only the eighth time in its history, Newcastle fans should be riding high when they turn up at St James’ Park on Saturday when victory over Blackburn could see Alan Pardew’s side climb to third in the nascent Premier League table.

 

However, the sight of a huge Sports Direct logo emblazoned across the ground in a huge marketing ploy is guaranteed to upset the purists at St James’ Park who remain at odds with Ashley’s hard-headed approach to the football business, which was underlined by Sir John Hall, who sold him the club.

 

“I sat with his representatives over three days thrashing out a deal. I was keen to know why they wanted the club and they were quite honest,” former Newcastle owner Sir John said in an interview with fanzine ToonTalk over the summer.

 

“They wanted to market their sports goods in the Far East and would use the club to help do this. To me it made sense to market the club globally. It was a win-win situation for Mike and the club. We hadn't done this. ”

 

Only time will tell on that score but Ashley might, just might, be getting it right and he may be a football visionary.

 

Newcastle supporters are supposedly the biggest romantics in English football and while Ashley might not share their wide-eyed optimism, this start to the season should earn him grudging respect.

 

That is because there is a growing sense of realism in the north-east amid the economic downturn that prompted him, for example, to call off the pursuit of Paris Saint-Germain striker Mevlut Erdinc when, according to Newcastle sources, the player “moved the goalposts over his personal demands”.

 

Ashley has overseen a cultural shift at St James’ Park, which used to be home to some of the best-paid players in English football such as Alan Shearer and Michael Owen but is now a mixture of journeymen, such as Leon Best and Demba Ba, and up-and-coming talent such as Yohan Cabaye, a £3.5m snip from Lille.

 

Like Cheik Tiote, Cabaye is one of the players targeted by Toon talent-spotter Graham Carr, the father of comedian Alan Carr, who has become a trusted lieutenant to Ashley and Newcastle managing director Derek Llambias thanks to a string of astute signings of players on relatively low wages in the £35,000-per-week bracket.

 

Fabricio Coloccini and Alan Smith remain the biggest earners at Newcastle as they apparently rake in £80,000 and £60,000 per week respectively, but otherwise Ashley has brought the payroll under control with the likes of Joey Barton and Kevin Nolan having been ushered away in a tight fiscal policy as the club stops haemorrhaging money.

 

Plus, the deal that saw Carroll head to Anfield is starting to look like the best bit of business in the history of English football as the striker struggles to come to terms with life on Merseyside and a cut-price return to Geordieland looks ever more feasible.

 

Ashley was lambasted when he sacked Chris Hughton last season but the appointment of Pardew is starting to look inspired because not only is he a good coach/manager, but he also has plenty to prove having been dismissed by Southampton in August last year amid concerns about staff morale.

 

Like his paymaster, Pardew’s reputation is being rehabilitated as he adapts to life within the Ashley regime, rolling with the punches as he copes with the sale of Carroll and the subsequent failure to hire a new talismanic No.9.

 

Pardew has a savviness that bodes well for his own career prospects but more importantly to Newcastle’s long-term hope of returning to the upper echelons of the Premier League and staying there.

 

Goal.com

 

 

I trust if this has already been posted or is in the wrong place a mod can move / delete it.

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Fuck off man, it'll be a different story when he refuses to renegotiate with Colo

 

 

gonna be interesting to see the company line as to why we wont renew, i imagine they'll stay true to form and a club source will tell the journo's he's asking for a 120,000 a week 5 year deal

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Mentioning that Shearer was one of the best paid players in the league smacks of having a massive agenda.

 

As for this season, you might as well write an article about how kind or cruel the fixture computer can be. It would make more sense.

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People were expecting us to sink like a stone after the likes of Carroll, Barton, Nolan and Enrique left. A few decent results and they are starting to think we've worked a miracle. A few results the other way and the same idiots will be brewing up a storm about a club in crisis - remember the Sun writer who was claiming the dressing room morale was at rock bottom in the States?

 

We've made a decent start but we'll need to do more than that to prove the doubters wrong.

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“I sat with his representatives over three days thrashing out a deal. I was keen to know why they wanted the club and they were quite honest,” former Newcastle owner Sir John said in an interview with fanzine ToonTalk over the summer.

 

“They wanted to market their sports goods in the Far East and would use the club to help do this. To me it made sense to market the club globally. It was a win-win situation for Mike and the club. We hadn't done this. ”

 

Never seen that quote before.

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Papering over cracks tbh. There are some things im obviously happy with, like the quality of the actual signings, and the suprising performance of Pardew in his job, but it makes it even more frustrating that we still couldn't bring in a decent striker and only have 3 centre backs. Still lacking at full back as well. We had the money to improve these positions and didn't.

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I'm not as much as a Ashley hater as some on here and have given him the benefit of the doubt many times. I'm as happy as anyone with our start BUT there is no way Ashley is winning us over. People accuse Ashley haters of being knee-jerkers and they should wait and see, but that article is kneejerk-tastic.

 

I hope this form continues but I have no expectation of what Fat Mike will do in January, I just hope he gives Pardew money for a good striker and some back up players.

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