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Coming Home Newcastle Roundtable: Who is truly at fault?

We did a roundtable this week to discuss the blame of Newcastle United’s current situation.

Newcastle United v Brighton & Hove Albion - Premier League Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Newcastle United isn’t in the best shape right now. Despite finishing in tenth last season, which was a miracle by all standards, as well as some luck due to underperforming clubs, the club up North has once again found itself locked in a relegation battle.

Both Mike Ashley and even manager Rafa Benitez have come under fire. Ashley for his failure to invest, and Rafa for his tactics and substitution choices which have certainly had some effect on the club’s results as of late.

So I decided to put my writers to the task of answering two questions:

  1. Who is to blame for the club’s failures right now?
  2. How can we fix these issues?

Bryan Nelson — Site Manager

Answering my own questions, I have definitely been critical of Rafa’s recent decisions. Why? His tactics simply aren’t working, and his team choice is hurting the club. Allowing Perez to play a full ninety minutes? That’s madness, especially in a match where he hadn’t been solid for a single minute. But you must always look at why he is stuck with the “talent” he has, and that is all due to Mike Ashley. Fans must never forget that. Miracles last year don’t translate into miracles this year. Rafa needs to change direction, but it will only happen with the right talent. Which brings me to the solution.

This January better be as solid if not more than the January that Newcastle United signed Andros Townsend and Jonjo Shelvey. If Rafa can string together some wins and points before January, a solid transfer window should translate into safety for the club. And of course, the ultimate solution? The departure of Mike Ashley.

Elijah Newsome — Social Media/Contributor

The easiest answer to this question is Mike Ashley, His lack of investment in the club has been showing as Newcastle have hung in games but have failed to get results as a result of issues with the roster. Newcastle have yet to find a proven scorer despite creating multiple chances during games, and the lack of depth has seen Newcastle drop points at the end of matches (see: Manchester United match). Needless to say, a lot of the pressure to win comes from the fact that Newcastle have arguably had one of their hardest starts to any season coming up against multiple Champion’s League sides, and clubs overflowing with money.

That being said, I fully expect the club to turn around and come up with a string of good performances because they are capable of proving people wrong, they did it last season and I am sure they can do it again. A lot games won last year were just due to Newcastle outworking the other team, and raking advantages of every opportunity possible. The team needs to get back to those ways, and begin to bury the chances that they have created. This club is capable of so much more, It is time for them to start playing like it.

Greg Troxell — Podcast host/Contributor

There is only one answer to this question. It’s Mike Ashley. People can blame Rafa all you want but its deluded to think so. He got this team to 10th last year and we haven’t spent anything this off-season while everyone else has strengthened. Outspent 2 consecutive years against Promoted clubs and all of the sudden he is expected to win? This is a minor league club playing in the majors. It’s Ashley’s fault.

Only one answer for this. Spend money. We need 3 good players in January to save this club. a #10, a striker and another midfielder. If we don’t get 3 quality players, we will be relegated.

Gene de Gourville — Contributor

The blame for Newcastle’s current situation unfortunately lies with Mike Ashley and Rafa Benitez, with most responsibility going to Mike Ashley. Mike Ashley has made sure that there the team could not possibly compete in a way needed for the Premiership. Last season the team was forced to compete with largely the same squad that played in the Championship season and managed to shock everyone with a 10th place finish. Those results may have been a detriment to the team as it possibly provided false evidence that the club could somehow repeat those heroics a 2nd time around. Two seasons on, the club still has the team that won the Championship division and are playing closer to their real potential this season than last. The net spend at the end of the transfer window was a damning indictment of Ashley’s role in Newcastle’s situation and until he is willing to spend the money needed, relegation is the only possible outcome.

I do however put some of the blame on Rafa Benitez. As bad as Newcastle’s roster is, we can still honestly say that points have been dropped this season. It is Rafa’s job to prepare the players at his disposal for the matches that they have in front of them and he quite frankly has done a poor job at that a few times already. Losing to Spurs, Chelsea and Manchester City is expected, but the Cardiff City match in week 2 represented a sure win and a 0-0 tie was the result. Rafa’s tactics in that match, as well as his stubborn reliance on certain players doomed the team to drop points. Another match in which Newcastle should have won was the Brighton match this past weekend. A home match against a team that is comparable should never result in a loss, period. Newcastle may not be able to compete with the top half of the table, but they can with Cardiff, Brighton and all other relegation prospects, they haven’t and 2 points this far into the season should never have been on the cards.

Still, had Rafa been able to get the players that he has wanted, it is hard to imagine that this is the scenario that we would be in. He is managing handcuffed, and honestly represents the best option a club of our dwindling stature could hope to have in the foreseeable future. Mike Ashley is the problem and unfortunately the only solution to our problem is that Ashley somehow “gets it” and allows some spending to be done in January. Without an injection of talent into this team the team will not even challenge for survival.

Graeme Bell— Contributor

Without question the person most responsible for our current plight is Mike Ashley. 11 years of little to no investment shows. We are now facing our third relegation in those 11 years, it’s not a shock that the common denominator is Ashley.

You get out what you put in, Ashley has put in basically nothing so does not get a return on investment. If he invested in the squad and facilities, he’d reap the rewards, we’d be a top 6/7 club if invested in. We’d get more money from a higher league position and European football plus more company’s would want to advertise in SJP meaning even more income. Ashley is just too blind or stupid to see the potential of the club.

Rafa is not blameless in all this but really it’s been rotting from the top for 11 years. The only way for him to take us seriously is to boycott and preferably a televised game to gain more publicity, only then will Ashley listen to the fans.

Cameron Johnson — Contributor

Rafa Benitez hasn’t worked miracles this year, but he shouldn’t have to. All on Ashley. Just no motivation to watch for me as a fan until ownership changes and I have any hope whatsoever.

Need new owner and a new identity.

Chris McGlynn — Contributor

Well we haven’t spent anything in years really and shockingly this team lacks depth. It certainly isn’t on Rafa. I’m sure some of it you can blame on poor performances from key players, but in the end, it all seems to tie back to Ashley. As long as he continues to sit on his hands, this club is going to suffer.

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