Questions Newcastle Fans Would Love to Ask Mike Ashley
Mike Ashley, the Newcastle United owner and chairman, still divides opinion on Tyneside whenever his name is mentioned. For most, the antics of the sportswear tycoon have ensured he will never have their support, while others see his shrewd business knowledge as a catalyst for the Magpies to achieve success.
Whichever camp a Geordie fan is in though, there will be plenty of questions that they would love to have an answer to from the man who is top dog at their beloved club.
Over the next slides, we will look at some of the biggest questions Ashley would have to answer if the fans had the chance.
Feel free to post your own questions in the comment box below; I'm sure I can't think of all the questions!
Why Bring Joe Kinnear Back to Newcastle?
OK, we start with the biggest question of the last six months: Why bring Joe Kinnear back to Newcastle?
Kinnear was arguably Newcastle's least popular manager of the past decade when in charge for a brief spell in 2008, so when Ashley decided to bring the former Wimbledon manager back as director of football in 2013, it left many fans with their heads in their hands.
The arrival signalled the end of Derek Llambias' time at Newcastle, as he quickly decided he could not work alongside Kinnear in a similar role.
At the time of writing, Kinnear has made it clear that he is in charge of signing new players and identifying transfer targets. So far, he has missed out on making a single first-team permanent deal.
Within days of returning to Newcastle, Kinnear had embarrassed fans by mispronouncing player names and desperately trying to give himself credit for things he did not do in previous managerial jobs.
Bringing back a man who is universally disliked throughout the region is easily one of Mike Ashley's worst choices—and one that Newcastle fans have to live with on a day-to-day basis.
Why Do We Wait for Things to Go Wrong Before Signing New Players?
In the summer of 2012, Newcastle had just come off the back of an incredible season. They finished fifth, narrowly missing out on a Champions League place but qualifying for the Europa League.
Fans were rightly impressed with that season, but realised that they would need a much deeper squad to cope with the rigours of playing twice a week.
However, despite having money to spend in the transfer market, Newcastle only made one acquisition—that of Vurnon Anita from Ajax—and went into the following season with largely the same squad that had done well previously.
Disaster followed as Newcastle narrowly avoided relegation from the Premier League with a slump in form that could surely have been avoided by investment the previous summer.
It was only a January spending spree that saved the Geordies, with five new faces arriving to give the team the boost they needed to claw themselves away from the danger zone.
Now after the end of the summer 2013 transfer window, Newcastle once again have only secured one new face and head into the new campaign hoping they can repeat their fifth-place finish of two years ago.
But why do Newcastle fans have to wait until the team is in trouble in order to see new signings? That would provoke an interesting response from Mike Ashley for sure.
Has the Andy Carroll Money All Gone?
When Geordie hero Andy Carroll left Newcastle to join Liverpool in a £35 million move, many reacted angrily to the sale of the striker. However, after time the Toon Army faithful realised that their transfer kitty had been significantly boosted and a number of additions could be made in the coming seasons.
But the £35 million seems to have disappeared without trace and Newcastle have no major money signings to show for their troubles.
Papiss Cisse arrived for £10 million one year after Carroll departed, and that remains the largest fee paid by the Geordies since Carroll switched.
Fans were given reassurances that the money would be reinvested in the club by Ashley and Co. but it hasn't pleased the passionate punters who wanted to see Newcastle make a marquee signing after their former idol departed.
Now, the money seems to have gone and Ashley's response to any questions regarding the money would be intriguing.
Is Alan Pardew Being Hung out to Dry?
Alan Pardew gets his fair share of criticism on Tyneside.
Many point out his lack of tactical nous, some question his man management abilities, and others read between the lines in every press conference he gives.
Pardew's job seems safe after he signed a whopping eight-year contract just weeks after leading Newcastle to a fifth-place finish, so Ashley certainly seems set to stick with the former West Ham manager for a considerable period.
Ashley has not splashed the cash this summer and Pardew is being made to work with the same squad that laboured to a 16th-placed finish last term. In short: Is Ashley doing all he can to help out his chosen man?
Add into the equation the arrival of Joe Kinnear as director of football—a role that could quite easily cause friction between Pardew and Kinnear—and you have a potential recipe for disaster.
Pardew's massive contract means he is virtually unable to be sacked due to the huge compensation package that would have to be settled upon his departure.
The money problem could be solved by Pardew voluntarily leaving his post, although with such an amount of money awaiting him if he was to be pushed rather than jump, such an event is unlikely.
Perhaps Ashley's plan is to frustrate Pardew so much that the pressure becomes too much? We could maybe find out if we could ask the man at the helm of Newcastle United.
Why Anger Fans by Renaming the Stadium?
Arguably Mike Ashley's biggest cause of mayhem was when he renamed St James' Park to the Sports Direct Arena.
The idea behind the move made sense, as Ashley was trying to attract more lucrative shirt sponsors by adding in the sale of naming rights for any potential deal.
Newcastle fans could understand that, but what angered them was when Ashley insisted on leading by example and naming the stadium the Sports Direct Arena. The move made no sense as it did not bring in any extra money; instead it plunged fans' confidence in their chairman to an all-time low and making the club a laughingstock.
Fortunately for Magpies fans, when shirt sponsorship was taken on by payday loan company Wonga, they chose to rename the stadium St James' Park, rather than opt for a tacky, self-advertising name such as Wonga Way or something equally ugly.
The move to reinstate St James' Park as the stadium name avoided more disharmony amongst fans and could well have been the best move Wonga could have made.