Try as he might, Mike Ashley just can’t keep out of the headlines for long, and as such, Newcastle United are, by extension, also front and centre more often than they’d like.
Perhaps garnering the column inches is Ashley’s aim, but the Geordie faithful would prefer it was because of a new record signing, or that things were moving in the right direction both on and off the pitch.
One thing is fairly clear at present and that’s how much of a miracle worker Rafael Benitez is. The Spaniard has kept a tight and steady ship at St. James’ Park, and that’s no easy feat considering what’s going on behind the scenes.
With it believed that Ashley still wants to sell the club if the right offer comes along, it follows that he’s making less of an investment on the pitch than he normally would, which, let’s be honest, wasn’t anywhere close to what’s expected of a club with aspirations of European football at the very least anyway.
One signing above all, with respect, brings the Magpies’ woes into sharp focus.
Salomon Rondon can hardly be described as prolific. Signed on loan from West Bromwich Albion for a season, the 28-year-old Venezuelan managed a pitiful seven goals last season.
In fact, in 100+ appearances for the Baggies, he’s not even reached a quarter of a century of goals.
For supporters that have been brought up on Jackie Milburn, Malcolm McDonald and Alan Shearer, hiring a striker that can manage one goal every four games at best is unforgiveable.
Unable to truly strengthen as he would like in other areas, it’s forced Benitez into playing Rondon as a lone target man when he’s brought him off of the bench.
His hold up play needs work, and for a big man he doesn’t have the greatest first touch either. But he perfectly encompasses what Newcastle United are about at this moment.
How they can still command gates above 50,000 is a testament to the working-class masses in the locale, who live for the 90 minutes and to see their heroes once a fortnight.
They’ll still believe that, sooner or later, things will turn and their club will get the owner it deserves, and subsequently the playing staff.
Rondon, like it or not, is Championship quality at best.
Benitez now has to rally his troops for two of the biggest games of their season, against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium and Arsenal at St. James’.
With only one point to show for their three games thus far, it’s quite conceivable that if results elsewhere don’t go their way either, they’ll be propping up the table in the weeks after the international break.
Bottom of the Premier League is a lonely place and it’s unfair to besmirch the good name of the manager who is doing what he can with limited resources.
Relegation shouldn’t really be an option either but that might at least force Ashley’s hand.
Newcastle have been a sleeping giant for far too long and they deserve better than this.
Do you have what it takes to challenge the best Fantasy Managers? If you’re up to challenging the best then play www.fantasy-champions-league.com now!