Why Newcastle United are in a state of serious danger ?
At the end of the eighth matchweek, Magpies find themselves at the bottom-three as Rafa Benitez's men are still in search for their first win in the league. The recent loss against Manchester United would have inflicted further morale damage to the players as they bottled a two-goal advantage in the second half to lose out to an inspired Red Devils.
While a normal football fanatic might attribute these streak of losses to poor tactical approach of manager Rafa Benitez, the ever-passionate Toon army very well know that there is only one man behind all these miseries - Mike Ashley, the owner of Newcastle United.
Barring the 2015/16 season in which the Magpies were relegated, Mike Ashley has failed to invest significantly in the transfers since his takeover of the club in 2007. Newcastle United have been relegated twice under the reign of Ashley and have managed to finish in the top-10 only thrice in these 11 years.
When Newcastle finished fifth in the 2011/12 season, it was expected that some serious investment will be made by the board to establish the club as one of the permanent top-seven clubs in the top-tier. But Ashley didn't share a similar ambition and restricted the transfer budget to 30 million which in turn affected the 2012/13 campaign as the Magpies merely escaped the relegation by five points.
These 10 long years under Mike Ashley has been nothing but disappointment and sorrow for the loyal Toon army. Ashley has portrayed himself as an unpopular figure in Newcastle after failing to fulfil any of his promises and continuously hurting the fans with his transfer policies.
The most recent fake promise made by Ashley was with respect to the transfer budget allocation for Rafa Benitez. The veteran manager secured a straight promotion back to the Premier League after taking charge of the club at the end of 2015/16 season and any other Board would have allocated a reasonable amount of money to increase the standard of the squad to compete in the top-tier. But Mike Ashley had his own belief in the squad and restricted the transfer budget once again as the Magpies were once again in the bottom in terms of money spent.
However, with that minimal resources available, Rafa Benitez proved why he is one of the top managers in the game by finishing in the top 10. Mike Ashley angered the fans furthermore as he continued to reduce the transfer budget and Newcastle United's net spend in the recent transfer window ended incredibly at +20 million, which was the worst among other clubs in the top-tier. With no notable additions to the squad that won the championship two seasons ago, the Magpies look very ordinary when compared to other teams in the league whose owners were willing to spend a huge sum of money to bolster their squad.
While Newcastle faithful remain hopeful about their manager's ability to push the side up the table, Rafa Benitez is no god to compete in a league which is dominated by rich clubs having world-class players. The players have been performing way better than their capabilities and the passion they displayed for that badge along with the massive support from the fans were the major reasons behind the club's top-ten finish last season.
However, these performances don't last forever and that has been quite visible this season. The original calibre of the players are being exposed which can be quite evidently seen from the current standings. The attack, in particular, has been abysmal as the majority of the players lack confidence with the ball while going forward.
With the club's status at an all-time low, Mike Ashley doesn't seem to care much as he continued to shrug off the chants and protests against him with a whimsy smile. His attempts to build a good relationship with the manager and his players by attending the games and taking them out for a dinner is considered only to be a mere PR activity as negativity continues to loom over St.James' Park.
With another possible relegation battle ahead and a possible end of contract of Rafa Benitez, Newcastle United can aim to progress as a club only when Mike Ashley moves himself miles away from the historical football city.