Mike Ashley surprisingly turned up for the FA Cup at Birmingham last weekend, then followed that up by watching Saturday’s hard fought victory over Brentford.
He is back, but would he rock the boat?
We've had ten years of this guy and he has always made wrong decisions, but this time ... I'm not so sure.
Finally I believe - HOPE - that he knows the team performs better when the manager has total control.
Rafa claims he does have that at Newcastle, and the longer that continues the more relaxed the fans seem to be.
The Chronicle reports Ashley's return is a positive, the cub’s owner taking a keen interest in what’s happening at the club under Rafa's guidance.
However, later on Saturday evening, the club’s media partner The Mirror (part of the same newspaper group as The Chronicle) have given a different interpretation to Mike Ashley’s sudden appearances after being absent for most of the season.
The Mirror claim that:
‘Mike Ashley has reinstated Newcastle United’s controversial transfer policy after a series of no-holds-barred meetings with the Magpies’ hierarchy this week.
The owner has put his foot down midway through the transfer window and taken measures to have a greater say over the comings and goings at St James’ Park.
Ashley made a surprise appearance before the FA Cup tie at Birmingham City last weekend, and made it clear he wanted to sign youngsters who would have sell-on value in the future.
Newcastle recruited 10 players, with Bournemouth’s Matt Ritchie and Dwight Gayle the most high-profile, as boss Rafa Benitez was given free rein.
Benitez had a £30million transfer surplus after selling Moussa Sissoko to Spurs and Georginio Wijnaldum, but Ashley wants to return to the policy of buying young players with promise.
He has left managing director Lee Charnley in no doubt as to his wishes and former recruitment guru Graham Carr is set for a direct role in all future purchases.
Benitez himself wanted just one new face during this window – he was looking for cover for Christian Atsu, who has departed on Africa Cup of Nations duty.’
The Mag reports that it was actually 12 players Rafa brought in, 11 permanent signings and Christian Atsu on a year’s loan with option to buy.
These are the 12 signings and their ages when the season kicked off on 5 August 2016:
33 Daryl Murphy
31 Jesus Gamez
29 Mohamed Diame
26 Matt Ritchie, Ciaran Clark
25 Dwight Gayle
24 Grant Hanley, Achraf Lazaar, Christian Atsu, Matz Sels
23 DeAndre Yedlin
21 Isaac Hayden
We all know Ashley put a cap on players being brought in under the age of 28. And in many ways you can see his point.
But every now and again signing an experienced player brings its own benefits. The player knows the league, what is required to succeed, and doesn't need the season to 'adapt'.
Rafa knows what he is doing ... let's hope Ashley keeps his own ego under wraps.