When he’s not busy sacking the managers of Newcastle United FC, Mike Ashley still finds a way to exert his ego elsewhere.
The Magpies’ chairman has recently purchased House of Fraser, the struggling UK retailer, and in his first move has sacked the entirety of the senior management!
In typically dour Ashley fashion, a statement read ‘….dismissed the former directors and senior management of House of Fraser’, without really going into any details about the decision.
But it’s clear the billionaire won’t suffer fools; a point proven by his occasionally ‘robust’ approach to football chairmanship. Ashley has sacked eight managers in little over a decade at Newcastle as the club lurches sideways and backwards but rarely forwards.
Now attention is turning to his fractious relationship with Rafa Benitez, the manager who kept the club up last season on a shoestring budget.
The Spaniard was known to be furious that his squad wasn’t strengthened in the summer with Ashley once again refusing to loosen his purse strings.
To make matters worse, Newcastle look wholly devoid of goalscoring threat this term – only Huddersfield have scored on fewer occasions in the top flight – and that comes after both Aleksandr Mitrovic and Dwight Gayle were allowed to leave the club in the summer.
So is Benitez a likely candidate for the Sack Race, the annual prize that no Premier League manager wants to win. Reports suggest that he will meet Mike Ashley this week, and the outcome of those talks will help to determine whether Benitez, at 14/1, is as good a value in the Next Premier League Manager to Leave Post market as he first appears.
Be under no illusion: unless Newcastle United strengthen in the January transfer window they will almost certainly be relegated.
A complete lack of attacking threat will, ultimately, result in failure, and Benitez will need at least one striker and one creator if the Magpies are to remain in the top flight.
The key question is will Ashley give in to his manager’s demands?
You won’t meet a stupid billionaire (apart from some of those who inherit their fortune, of course!). These are some of the canniest men and women around, who have forged successful businesses often from the ground up.
Mike Ashley isn’t daft either, and he will know that Benitez is extremely popular with the Geordie faithful.
But you wonder how long he will continue to tolerate having his integrity questioned, as Benitez has done, in a fashion, in the press on a couple of occasions.
And make no mistake: if Newcastle keep losing matches, the Spaniard will be collecting his P45 regardless of his popularity on Tyneside. As we’ve seen with the House of Fraser decision, Ashley does not tolerate failure!
No Way Jose
Of course, it goes without saying that there are a couple of candidates for the Sack Race who are in more dire straits than Benitez.
Jose Mourinho (4/5) is now odds-on to be the first manager to leave their post after his troubled start to the campaign. Poor results, player unrest….it bears all the hallmarks of the Special One’s sacking from Chelsea a couple of years ago.
We’re not quite sure what sacking Neil Warnock (4/1) would achieve for Cardiff, a club whose transfer dealings in the summer hinted at a side preparing for an instant return to the Championship.
Southampton fans have never truly taken to Mark Hughes (8/1), but he has been backed by the board financially and that suggests he will be given a stay of execution.
And so it might be Mourinho vs Benitez for the Sack Race honours. While the former is on dodgier ground, don’t be surprise if the latter is the first through the exit door if Mike Ashley’s ego is challenged yet further.