One of the comments that I read following my last article was that ‘Mike Ashley isn’t doing bad’. Although opinion is deeply divided, that sentiment is echoed by many fair minded supporters but is it the case? I thought the claim deserved some closer examination.

The trouble is that in order to judge how he is doing, one needs to know where he hopes to take the club. In other words, what is his strategy. If we are at Point A now, we need to know not only what he perceives as Point B but how long he thinks it will take to get there, what his plan is to implement that strategy and what the marker points along the way should be. Only then can one judge his progress.

Unfortunately, most of us have no real idea why he bought the club or what his vision for its future might be. We have to accept that, as a successful businessman, he is no fool and that he does indeed have a strategy despite a series of seemingly bizarre events since he gained control. Also, we have to accept that every fan will have his own idea of what the club’s strategy should be and that this may differ greatly from the ambitions of the owner. As fans we want a team that plays attractive football with a passion that matches that of its supporters and has both the ambition and ability to win trophies in the not too distant future.

Alas, that may not constitute part of Mike Ashley’s agenda and, in truth, I am not clear what his strategy for the club is because there seems to be no clear mission statement and he keeps his cards close to his chest. One can only make educated guesses from his actions as there are few words to pin to the mast except those emanating from his lieutenants, mainly Alan ‘Diplomatic, I can’t say too much Pardew’ and Joe ‘I’m trying hard not to say anything else stupid or offensive’ Kinnear.

So what clues do we have about the club’s real strategy? Well, despite claims that there was a lack of due diligence when he bought the club, the overall indication has been one of financial prudence. Reduce debt, reduce wages and buy players whose value is more likely to increase than decrease – that is good youngsters and certainly nobody over the age of thirty. Hence, part of the strategy must have been to turn the club into a profitable company and, on that basis, one has to concede that things seem to be going well. Still on the financial side, there have been clear indications that he would sell at the right price so one suspects that part of his long term strategy is to sell at a profit. He has had no luck so far and in order to achieve that it might require success on the field. All aspects of a business need to be thriving if one is to sell at top dollar.

If it is true, then, that the team needs to thrive if this assumed strategy is to be successful, one has to say that things are not going so well. I am confused by the lack of ambition. There is very little talk of winning things. The closest of late was a quote from Peter Beardsley who said about challenging for the League Cup, “I think it’ll be high on Alan Pardew’s list. I imagine that’s something he’s targeting.” He ‘imagines’ by the way so even he doesn’t know if that is in the current plan of action. Joe Kinnear and Alan Pardew only seem to aiming for a top ten finish. Joe said, “Before the season started, we had sat down and agreed the squad was big enough, and strong enough, to finish in the top half of the table.” That’s it for this year then folks! Even the increasingly lacklustre Alan Pardew displayed a lack of ambition when he talked of the Europa League as a distraction last year. Obviously no point trying to qualify for something that is a nuisance and only warrants playing a weakened line up.

Further, does the club intend to strengthen the squad at present? Despite keeping our interest alive and appointing JFK as ‘transfer supremo’, the truth seems to be that the squad is deemed fit for purpose. Any new faces that arrive would seem to be in the form of casting crumbs to appease the supporters and enthuse the squad rather than to help Alan Pardew do better but perhaps I am being too cynical!

Anyway, in conclusion, is Mike doing badly? Still I have no idea but, as far as the fans are concerned the jury is still out amidst strong rumblings of condemnation. From a personal standpoint, whether Mike Ashley adds to his personal fortune or makes a loss on his venture is of far less significance than my desire to see some long awaited silverware in the cabinet.

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  1. Chris

    As a massive Newcastle fan I find it hard to work Ashley out. If in terms of being shrewd with the clubs money and keeping us in a good financial position then nobody could argue he's doing well. If in terms of ambition to get the the club better than mid table and survival then he's failing. That said I'm more optimistic than most about this season as if ba comes back and remy is fit we have the same team that finished 5th a couple of years ago! I would sell cabaye and have the midfield marveux tiote sissoko Ben arfa with cisse and ba or remy or all 3 up front.

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  2. Former ST holder

    Well said! Communication with the fan base is appalling to say the least and this obvious disrespect has lost more than me from St.James. The voice of NUFC is now the barely credible Pardew and the laughable (and definitely not credible) Kinnear. Can someone quickly find the club a rich American. (a rich Mackem might even do)

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  3. John Docherty

    Interesting article and I agree with some of it Charles. Particularly about there being no published strategy. However, an important point to note, which you didn't cover in your piece is – 'how far have we come?'
    The trajectory is positive, we're not buying maecelinos and Xiscos any more and we're paying cash up front for our players.
    Like most of us fans my heart yearns for immediate results, but when I think with my head, I can see the positive trajectory continuing and that will in the medium to long term result in a stronger team on the pitch.
    If we can continue with that (and I see no reason to think that we cannot) then we'll be OK.

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  4. Harry

    Alan pardew is weak on numbers for squad but there is no way he is gettingthe best our of these players he has no idea wwhere they should play what formation to play go back to 442 then if fails he can moan n talk his rubbish for me he has one more game if we loose or draw then out the door n cabaye is a disgrace

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  5. WallsendStu

    Take a look around St James Park and I think it tells you the reason why Ashley bought a football club. NUFC is an advertising tool for his chain of shops. Even the stewards have it on their Hi- viz jackets, the ground is still covered with the naff sign (yes even that looks cheap) and it is every where he can possibly have it. His one and only love is his shops, he has no regard for NUFC or its supporters and is happy to keep milking us for every penny he can. I have nothing against Rangers but I wish Ashley would see them as a better instrument than us and sell us on.

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  6. Hendy

    The Man is a disaster, it`s one thing after another. He`s proved he`s learned nothing from this past mistakes and by God there`s been many of them. The Man is an utter Clown and the sooner he`s out of Tyneside the better but he ain`t going nowhere wit 50,000 gates.

    Stick with this Man at your peeril

    ASHLEY OUT!

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