In recent days, the fan movement in Newcastle against manager Alan Pardew has grown to a fever pitch. The obvious and galling lack of ambition of the club is down more to the ownership than any management situation.
The club is the biggest in England that hasn’t won anything in most of our lifetimes. While Mike Ashley’s financial acumen has stabilized the club, the lack of ambition demonstrated by the current ownership leaves the Magpies as an also-ran in English football. Finishing mid table each season may be the only reasonable Premier League expectation, but the continued failures in cup competitions against lower league sides and lack of emphasis on taking chances to win silverware is exasperating. While some Magpies supporters blame Pardew for this, the reality is that any other manager would be operating under a similar set of constraints. While it is fair to say that Pardew’s own public actions have placed undue pressure on the Newcastle manager, it is Ashley’s own unwillingness to run the club in a competitive manner that is the root cause of the problems.
Supporters of the club are becoming more frustrated and despondent. The sale of Yohan Cabaye to PSG in January and the failure to even attempt to buy a replacement was the last straw for many Geordies who have grown up dreaming of glory but have instead seen the hopes of the Keegan and Robson years come crashing down.
Ashley must go if the Magpies are to achieve the heights supporters want. Either Newcastle attracts a big money owner willing to invest resources in the club now that Ashley has steadied the financial picture or the team slips towards the Championship once again, perhaps beginning with a relegation fight next season. Supporters surely will have a role in whatever happens next for the side. Pressure can be brought on Ashley to sell the club, but as many English clubs have demonstrated, financial prudence sometimes trumps new foreign ownership that promises to spend money but instead rips the soul out of a club. Supporters can turn anger currently angled at Pardew towards Ashley. It is important to note that Ashley inherited a messy club from former chairman Freddy Shepherd, and while he has stabilized the financial structure, he has also stripped Newcastle of any ambition.
In theory, Newcastle United should attract a big money takeover. The club remains arguably the largest in the Premier League to have not been taken over by a large scale foreign investor. However, the economic climate of the Northeast of England as well as the restrictions on big initial investment in the Financial Fair Play era may leave the club without any other option but to let Ashley navigate it forward. Thus time is running out for a change to be made at the top, and it is time for supporters to let their voice be heard.