In recent years Newcastle United has been in decline and has seen a once great club relegated twice from the Premier Division for the first two times in the space eight years. But what has caused this sudden drop in performance and division? Can the club turn its fate around?
First, let’s start with a little about Newcastle United since the Premier League was founded back in 1993.
Between the 1993/94 season and the 1996/97 campaign, the club finished in the top six. This showed the club had potential to compete in the league, even challenging Manchester United for the title.
Between then and the 2007/08 season the club finished all over the table, from third to fourteenth, but the club had always finished in a solid position in the division and never flirted with relegation.
All this changed in the 2008/09 season. The Magpies finished 18th and faced up to the reality of playing in the Championship for the first time. They did of course bounce back at the first time of asking and stayed in the top flight until 2015/16 season, when once again, they suffered the pain of relegation.
Under the guidance of Raphael Benitez, Newcastle once again claimed promotion as Champions at the first time of asking, and find themselves in the Premier League for the season that is about to commence. So how did this stage of uncertainty occur?
Reasons for Newcastle’s decline
There are two main reasons for the decline. Firstly, let me start with the takeover that occurred at the club. In 2007 businessman Mike Ashley bought a 100% stake of the club and became the sole owner of Newcastle United Football Club.
This saw a turnaround in the clubs finances seeing the club turn a profit instead of making major losses year after year. This turnaround has seen Newcastle United become the biggest growing brand in world football this year with their return to the Premier Division this year and its lucrative television deal.
Even though the club has turned a profit this financial success has not been replicated consistently on the pitch. To make the club profitable the club cut back on spending in the transfer market and also on the wages they were willing to pay players.
Unlike in the “golden years” of the club, they were no longer signing world record transfer fees for players like Alan Shearer, but instead tried to sign the next big thing for a low fee and selling them for a profit when they had developed, the Moneyball strategy.
This backfired in most cases, with the club mainly signing players from Ligue 1 in France. This lead to the clubs performances declining and eventually leading to their inevitable relegations.
This is just one of the two main reasons for the decline.
Secondly, since Ashley took over the club has been run by people who barely know the game of football. This is related to the takeover but is not due to the financial management of the club. Ashley appointed Joe Kinnear as Manager and Director of Football. He lasted six months as Director of Football and could apparently “open the door to any manager in the world” even tho he did not make a single signing in his tenure and was statistically one of the worst managers in the last 20 years at the club.
This was just one of several horrible appointments in Ashleys reign. Steve McClaren and John Carver were also appointed as managers under Ashley, something which shows the lack of knowledge about football both Ashley and Lee Charnley (Newcastle United Managing Director) posses. This lack of knowledge about the staff at the club has seen the teams performances drop due to the lack of tactical knowledge of the manager. This combined with the lack of quality signings, saw the club turn into one of the worst in the division.
These two reasons are starting to be rectified at the club with Rafael Benitez leading the club in the right direction.
To convince Benitez to stay Ashley had to hand control of transfers to Benitez. This is allowing Benitez to sign only players that he wants instead of players that ‘might’ become stars and turn a major profit.
When the club got relegated in the 2016/17 season, Ashley allowed Benitez to sell want-away stars to fund his rebuild of the squad. For the coming season Ashley has also promised Benitez all of the money from promotion after he has taken enough money to run the club. This still makes Newcastle profitable but also allows spending on transfers to try and compete in the Premier League. With this method of financial management it allows the club to benefit from the Premier Leagues television deal and also allows the club to attract quality players to the North-East once again.
Under Benitez I can see a light at the end of the tunnel of disappointment that has fallen over the club. Lee Charnley is still in charge of agreeing transfer fees with other clubs and may be the man to drive Benitez away from Newcastle.
Only time will tell if Ashley and Charnley will keep their promises to keep the former Liverpool and Real Madrid manager at the biggest club in the North-East.
Can Benitez sign the players he needs? Will Newcastle avoid a third relegation? Under Mike Ashley, can Newcastle get back to their former glories? Leave us a comment below