Ashley Owes Himself A Manager Better than Pardew

This article was originally written for and posted at The Mag.

When criticising Mike Ashley for his ample failings I think it's important to be fair.  A lot of anger is directed at the transfer profits at the club since he arrived, but Everton are making a charge for the champions league, have they spent much more?  Newcastle fans are told such a thing is impossible on the club's budget, hence a total capitulation since securing Premier League survival. Is that because we've sold so many more players while Everton hold onto their most valuable assets?

Spending



Since Mike Ashley arrived at Newcastle the club has spent more on signing new players than Everton.  Over 7 years, including a year in the championship, Newcastle have averaged £15.2m a year on new players.  Everton, just £13.9.  £1.3m more every year.  The most that Everton have spent in any season over that time is £21.3m.  Newcastle have spent more than that in three separate seasons (£25.8m, £23m & £23.3m). Whatever you think of Mike Ashley, whatever you think of Everton and our respective standing in the game or expectations. It's a fact, one that gets buried under the anti-Ashley rhetoric of him running a selling club for profit. 


Selling

Over the same time span Newcastle have averaged £17.6m a year in player sales.  Yes it's more than is spent over a season on average, and yes it's more than Everton have recouped in the same period (£16.3m average) but not by much.  In fact, it's exactly the same difference as there's been in spending (£1.3m).  Ashley has never recouped as much for Newcastle in any season as Everton did this season either (£40m).

Pardew or Martinez?
So, on spending and selling, it basically comes out at a draw between the two clubs.  So why have Everton rolled over Newcastle so easily twice this season, home and away?  Anybody reading knows the answer.  There are very few Newcastle supporters left defending Pardew now, but the one thing I do hear from those few is that it's pointless to sack him until Ashley goes, his hands are tied, no-one could function under the constraints placed on him. 

Well just look at Martinez. The difference in quality at the two clubs is clear for all to see.  Everton fans are getting a far better quality product when they buy a ticket.  Even when Pardew had his run at 5th place a couple of years ago, it was built on tight, cagey, horrible, POMO, long ball football, where we suffered several heavy defeats or scraped to victory in the dying minutes.  Everton have lost half as many games as we did that year on their well organised, attacking run at the top four this year.

The other argument that I've heard is that it's a results business.  Irrespective of performance, Pardew has had that chase for 5th and currently looks like finishing top half, so he must be doing ok.  Ironically he only has Ashley to thank for that in my view.  Pardew has proven himself incapable of lifting the standards at the club long term whenever he is provided any new blood whatsoever.  



There is always an in initial lift as the new signings show their quality, but as time goes by, the longer Pardew works with a group and trains them in his "system", whatever that might be, the less points Newcastle pick up.

Can Ashley Do Better?
Of all Mike Ashley's many failings, his inability to appoint a manager worthy of the name, which he can work with, is his greatest. Anyone with even a passing knowledge of Kevin Keegan knew that he would demand ambition and autonomy.  As with his purchase of the club, Ashley seemed not to perform even the most basic due diligence on that one.  As his tribunal said, Keegan was effectively sacked as Ashley moved the goalposts on him. Joe Kinnear was a laughing stock in the game when he was appointed.  Ashley seemed to be appointing a mate rather than a manager. Pardew wasn't far behind Kinnear on reputation either, and seemed another example of working with who he knew he could control rather than who could get the most from players. 

Any argument as to whether Pardew should go or not is predicated on the fact that Ashley is incapable.  There is unanimous agreement that Pardew is not good enough.  Apart from the one man at the top who can make the decision, but he's still being cautious.  Is he too scared of bringing in an unknown quantity?  Does he have no more mates that were managers who he can entrust to forward his agenda without question?

When action is taken it will be Ashley's investments on the pitch that force his hand.  With the sale of Cabaye the club no longer have any player they could sell at any significant profit.  That fact will worry Mike far more than our abject performances, consistent drubbings, flat lining points total, open top buses or season ticket sales.

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