TV pundit Merson’s defence of Toon owner
PAUL Merson has delivered a withering verdict on Newcastle United, suggesting Rafa Benitez could “be in trouble” and mounting an extraordinary defence of Mike Ashley.
The Sky Sports pundit was watching United’s dire defeat against Leicester for the channel’s Soccer Saturday and said that Newcastle are in “major trouble”.
Few watching would have any arguments with that but they might with his point about owner Ashley, who made his first appearance at the ground for 18 months and was the subject of chants.
Merson said that Ashley deserved praise because he is putting his money in when there is no one from Newcastle willing to do the same.
He said: “I think Mike Ashley gets unfair stick. He has put his money in. This is Newcastle. I’m sure there are lots of rich people in Newcastle, why haven’t any of them come forward to buy it?”
Merson then said that Benitez might be under pressure for his job in a fortnight or so. “I think Benitez is hanging on in there,” he said.
“I think he could be in trouble in a couple of weeks – I really do. I can’t believe what I watched today.”
Merson’s points about the performance might have more resonance with fans. “Newcastle looked lost. No energy, no pace. They never looked like getting back in the game, and that’s not Newcastle. I can’t remember Schmeichel making one save. Their one shot on target was when Shelvey tried to lob him from 60 yards – he got back and he caught it.
“Worrying, worrying times for Newcastle. The crowd went mad when Ritchie went off, and for Shelvey, when he looks up, there’s nobody making runs. That’s a problem, and he’s finding it hard now. I think they’re in big, big trouble.”