Universally distrusted and liked by none, Newcastle owner Mike Ashley has today insisted that he has never had any involvement with team selection at St James’ Park.
The comments come in the wake of the claims made Rangers caretaker manager Kenny MacDowall’s that he is under instruction to field the five youngsters the Ibrox club signed from the Magpies on transfer deadline day.
Ashley is a shareholder on the Gers board and used his Magpies connections to bolster their squad with some of the choicest gems in the Tynesiders’ youth ranks.
Defensive duo Kevin Mbabu and Remie Streete and midfielders Gael Bigirmana, Shane Ferguson and Haris Vuckic are the players in question, are supposedly guaranteed a game in the Rangers side when available.
It’s not the first time Ashley has been accused of tampering with team selection, with former Toon star Joey Barton stating that the discount sports goods vendor had an influence on who was fielded during his St James’ Park career.
Apparently a frequent committer of the cardinal sin in football club ownership, the forever-vilified Ashley can seemingly do no right.
But if he has been having an input on the teams Newcastle have been picking all this time, he’s clearly not bad at it.
While the club have endured some horrible losing streaks across his tenure– they’ve been bested in seven of their last ten, for instance – and relegated once, he has overseen a stroll towards the Championship title and a fifth-place finish in the top-flight.
High-profile victories include three successive home triumphs over Chelsea, as well as a rare victory against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
In addition to getting results, he has also provided several players the platform upon which to develop, with hefty profits harvested on signings Yohan Cabaye and Mathieu Debuchy, as well as £35m on youth product Andy Carroll.
Tactically astute and aware of a good player when he sees one, Rangers would do well to listen up when the fattest cat on the Newcastle board insists his quintet of borrowed talents are to start for the Ibrox club.
His managerial mastery will be needed if the Magpies are to see off Stoke this weekend at 13/10.