As a dogged Newcastle United succumbed to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Saturday evening, it was neither the result or performance fans were talking about. During BT Sport’s coverage of the game, Rio Ferdinand came out with some baffling statements which left presenter Jake Humphrey in a state of shock and confusion.
Ferdinand stated that Newcastle United fans should be grateful to Mike Ashley for bringing Rafael Benitez to the club. However, it was actually the former Real Madrid manager that approached the club in March of 2016. Benitez has brought hope back to Newcastle, a club that for a long time felt lost and going nowhere fast. The Spaniard brightened the halls of St James’ Park with his smile and his love of the game. Benitez has a fantastic relationship with the Newcastle fans, something he does not take for granted.
Ferdinand also mentioned that the club were debt free. It is clear that the former Manchester United defender hadn’t bothered to do any research whatsoever. In fact, Newcastle United were in £144 million worth of debt in their latest accounts. The club did NOT turn a profit last year, as Ferdinand had foolishly stated. This was due to Newcastle’s relegation during the 15/16 season.
Rafael Benitez has not received backing from the club with Michael Owen astonishingly still Newcastle’s record signing. This is in a time when 18-year-old Callum Hudson-Odoi is reportedly worth more than £30 million. Both Benitez and the fans aren’t asking for £60 or £70 million to be spent on one player, however they would like to be able to compete with the likes of Bournemouth in the transfer window. It is absolutely criminal that teams such as Watford, Bournemouth, Brighton and Fulham have all easily outspent Newcastle.
Ferdinand also mentioned that Newcastle “Are a yo-yo club”. The problem with that statement is that Mike Ashley has turned Newcastle into a yo-yo club. In fact, Newcastle had only been relegated four times in their history until Mike Ashley bought the club in 2007. Newcastle have been in relegated twice and are facing a third in 11 years, all under Ashley’s ownership. Before the Ashley era, Newcastle were a top six side in addition to enjoying European football under previous ownership. Under Mike Ashley’s ownership the club have finished in the top ten of the Premier League just three times.
Ferdinand’s comments come as no surprise as the former defender has a business relationship with Mike Ashley. If Ashley was running Manchester United the way he has Newcastle, you could bet your life there would be a huge uproar, not just from fans but from the whole media.
Richard Keys decided to try and make himself relevant with a delusional statement. The former Sky Sports presenter tweeted:
“If Rafa loves Newcastle as he says - spend some of his own money. He’s got enough. Management is about teamwork - why should it always be Ashley? Buy it. It’s still for sale. They’re in the bottom 3 & Rafa is responsible. He picks the team”.
Newcastle are in danger, not because of Benitez, it is down to one man and one man only - The blame lies at Ashley’s door. If you do not invest in a playing squad, it will suffer as a result. Currently, Newcastle are like an old banged up car, with the owner scared to take it for an MOT as they know it will fail. Newcastle United is broken. When a change of ownership does happen, it will take some time for the war wounds to heal.