TV pun­dit Mer­son’s de­fence of Toon owner

Sunday Sun - - Football -

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.”

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