GIBSON The fans have to be­have if they want that ul­ti­mate goal


The Chronicle - - John Gibson - Mike Ash­ley and, be­low, Rafa Ben­itez

IT HAS come to some­thing when New­cas­tle United fans be­gin to be­lieve what Mike Ash­ley is telling us.

I mean, first True Faith fanzine called for the fan boy­cott of to­mor­row’s match against Wolves to be called off and then the Mag­pie Group or­gan­is­ers did just that.

Why? Be­cause for once there seems more than a grain of truth in Ash­ley’s tele­vi­sion ut­ter­ings that a sale is “closer than ever be­fore.”

What a shift in stance that is by United’s foot soldiers who have in­creas­ingly, down bar­ren years, be­lieved in the old adage that Ash­ley must be fib­bing be­cause you can see his lips move!

Let me say straight away I thor­oughly un­der­stand and agree with why the boy­cott has been aban­doned. Bot­tom line, no one should want to jeop­ar­dise Rafa Ben­itez’s ef­forts to keep his team afloat, we don’t want to put off any prospec­tive buy­ers who may be­lieve they are tak­ing on a re­bel­lious crew, and above all we don’t want Ash­ley’s min­ions to be able to point the finger di­rectly at the sup­port­ers if they make a hash of the lat­est sales pitch. That last point is ex­tremely sig­nif­i­cant.

Let tem­po­rary peace break out, how­ever un­easily, and let Mike Ash­ley get out. A hor­ren­dous home record – six de­feats in eight Premier League matches – must be ad­dressed on Sun­day and the best way of do­ing that is to have a 50,000crowd as one with the play­ers on the field. I can thor­oughly un­der­stand fans threat­en­ing to take up the cud­gels again if Ash­ley fails them for the umpteenth time - but their vi­sion can­not be dis­torted by dis­like which most cer­tainly has not gone away.

Let us re­mem­ber, too, the pro­posed demon­stra­tion at United’s last home match, how­ever well-in­ten­tioned, did not work.

The thou­sands needed to make an im­pres­sion by boy­cotting the kick-off did not ma­te­ri­alise and iron­i­cally as the hun­dreds who had stayed on the con­courses filed to their seats in the 11th minute West Ham took the lead.

I think ev­ery Ge­ordie’s in­cli­na­tion is to rebel against the suf­fo­cat­ing lead­er­ship of Ash­ley but it sim­ply is not in ev­ery black-and-white heart to miss out on sup­port­ing their team.

It is both the crowd’s weak­ness and its strength. The the­ory of stay­ing away en bloc is bril­liant, the prac­tice much more dif­fi­cult. Re­gard­less of what is said on so­cial me­dia, be it by ex­trem­ists or merely the frus­trated, there is a silent ma­jor­ity who will do things their way.

I will not be­lieve Ash­ley has gone un­til I see his ex­haust fumes dis­ap­pear­ing over the Tyne Bridge. There have been too many false dawns.

How­ever, we have to be cuter than be­ing merely bullish.

This is our club from cra­dle to grave, not Ash­ley’s nor the last owner, nor the next.

Let him get out be­cause there is no longer enough money to be made here apart from profit on a sale with his in­ter­est in this par­tic­u­lar toy hav­ing plum­meted. He can toss it out of his pram as far as we are con­cerned.

What we want left is a foot­ball club, not a pile of rub­ble.

Let talks con­tinue and let Ash­ley for the very first time in his life give Ge­ordies the Christ­mas present they crave. Surely that is long over­due.

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