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Ashley and Benitez Must Remain United

Mike and Rafa must share a vision to become a world class football club

Newcastle United v Barnsley - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Every Newcastle fan, whether casual or obsessive, will have their own opinions about how to build and sustain their favorite football club:

  • Maybe you like the idea of Mike Ashley emptying his pockets for established English players and/or established foreign imports;
  • Maybe you look to the south coast of England for inspiration and would like to see Newcastle follow Southampton's system of establishing a world class academy (the Saints are constantly looking to supply their senior team with new, homegrown talent after selling off top assets to richer clubs);
  • Maybe you prefer the club’s top brass to balance the money spent between the two.

After reading a piece on The Ringer by Mike Lombardi, a former American Football General Manager, it became abundantly clear that however Newcastle decides to move forward, Rafa Benitez and management must be on the same page as a club.

Despite the fact that Lombardi was in charge of an organization playing a different sport, with a different set of economic circumstances, halfway across the globe - the underlying facts remain highly relevant.

In both cases, no one ultimately cares who the GM is. Instead, as Lombardi says, fans only care about: “who is their quarterback, and who is their head coach.” That said, in the best and most stable organizations it really matters that the head coach and the GM share a “philosophical connection.”

We can bring this back to Newcastle by affirming that no Geordie cares about Lee Charnley (unless he’s handcuffed and being questioned about tax evasion) - they only care about the head coach and who is scoring the goals.

The ideas Lombardi hammers on about scare me; he might as well be writing about Newcastle. He points out that the best clubs are “always aligned..internal fighting does not exist between management and coaching staffs.” When a team is losing, each part of the organization needs to “not blame another department...coaches blame scouts, scouts blame coaches, owners blame everyone.” That’s a story that sounds eerily similar to the going-ons in Northeast England for the entirety of the Mike Ashley tenure.

From the outside looking in, Ashley and Charnley seem to have aligned themselves with Benitez. Ashley has stated his willingness to give the gaffer “every last penny” needed to strengthen his promoted squad and build a football club capable of raising trophies. Is it too much to ask Ashley and company to remain aligned with our world-class head coach and not continue his cycle of meddling, which as history has shown us (twice), can lead directly into relegation.