As billionaire owner/pantomime villain Mike Ashley continues his quest to flog Newcastle United for parts, the debate around the club’s transfer investment (or lack thereof) took a turn for the bizarre this weekend with some high-profile commentators stepping forward to defend his refusal to spend actual money, presumably to avoid responsibility for the subsequent allergic reaction.
Rio Ferdinand defended his (totally unrelated) business partner on BT Sport despite some reasonable protestations from Jake Humphrey. But it was Richard Keys who provided the most unorthodox take on the situation, demanding Rafa Benitez saves the club from relegation by coughing up his own money.
Well said @rioferdy5 👏👏. 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.
— Richard Keys (@richardajkeys) January 13, 2019
Not only does this fly in the face of established logic of an owner’s fiscal responsibilities to his club, but it’s an incredible demonstration of ignorance towards the nuances of how football clubs work, as if dipping into the transfer market is akin to buying rounds in a pub. “Your turn Rafa. I got you Joselu, remember?”
But maybe Keys is on to something? He is right to point out Newcastle are in the bottom three at the very, very least. Who knows, maybe if Benitez spent some of his own cash, and put in a bit more work, Newcastle United could once again return to their former glories.
Here’s some ways he can help out:
Bringing in the packed lunches
Footballers need a lot of feeding. Running around, kicking balls in training requires energy. They need pre-match meals, post-match meals, and it all adds up, what with the extra gels and isotonic sports drinks.
Maybe the club would have a bit more money to spend on a new striker if Ashley wasn’t having to feed a first-team squad of 30 players every five minutes. Absolutely shameful that Rafa’s standing by, probably eating with them too, rather than offering to bring in cheese sandwiches from home for the boys.
Driving players to the game
Newcastle’s a lovely city: cheap pints, canny folk, and it’s quite near the Angel of the North. On the other hand, it’s also incredibly far away from the south where, bafflingly, they’re often expected to play football. Yesterday’s trip between St James’ Park and Stamford Bridge clocked in at a hefty 278 miles, and as is often the case with the environmentally conscious clubs of the Premier League, Ashley probably had to shell out on a private jet.
Now, Benitez works in football, so it’s a pretty safe bet that he owns a nice car. It’s probably pretty flash, goes really fast, but isn’t that spacious. If he really cared about Newcastle staying in the Premier League, he’d trade it in for a second-hand minibus, add a load of Meat Loaf to a Spotify playlist marked ‘road trip!!!’, pick up Jamaal Lascelles on the way, and take on the lengthy drives himself to save on employing a driver.
Get himself on the pitch
If Rafa loves Newcastle United so much, how come he never digs out his boots and joins in with the lads? He stands there on the touchline, happy to berate Ciaran Clark when he’s out of position, but unwilling to get his own hands dirty. Hypocrisy, thy name is Benitez.
It seems ridiculous that Ashley is paying for a minimum of 18 whole footballers every single week when Rafa’s going to be there anyway. Could he not just manage from the pitch and save the club a bundle on needless appearance fees for Florian Lejeune?
Sorting out the kit
Other than being hated billionaire owner of Newcastle, Ashley is also famously hated billionaire owner and worker’s rights champion of retail behemoth/Victorian-workhouse-throwback Sports Direct.
It’s surely a bit ungrateful of Rafa not to support his good mate Mike’s business, and rely on Ashley to foot the kit bill. How can anyone who claims to want the club to do well not offer to pop down to his local store? It’s people like you Rafa that are killing the High Street.
Return all of his wages via bank transfer (backdated, of course)
Absolutely disgusting of Benitez, a manager with a Champions League under his belt, to be demanding a salary for his work, trying to keep Newcastle in the Premier League with little to no support. Daylight robbery.
That sound enough like teamwork for you, Richard?
Sam Russell – follow him on Twitter