Andy Gray launches bizarre defence of Mike Ashley and questions whether players want to play for Newcastle

Andy Gray
Andy Gray

Andy Gray has launched a fresh defence of Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley.

Gray's Bein Sports colleague Richard Keys angered fans earlier this month with comments about Rafa Benitez's dispute over transfer funds with Ashley.

And pundit Dennis Wise provoked a backlash from supporters when he waded into the debate last weekend.

Now Qatar-based Gray has backed Ashley over Benitez and the club's fans after a summer of dealings which saw the club made a profit of around £20million on transfers.

The club has made a profit on player trading, overall, during Benitez's tenure.

“You have to be very careful, because Newcastle fans have an expectancy maybe beyond what they should have," Gray told Bein Sports.

Rafa Benitez

Rafa Benitez

"They haven’t won a domestic trophy since 1955. That’s a long time. They haven’t won any trophy since the Fairs Cup (in 1969).

“Yet they (the fans) still think they are entitled to whatever Mike Ashley has got, whatever his millions are. I think Mike Ashley has done a really good job with them, they finished tenth last year.

"I heard last year that Mike Ashley was ridiculous (as) he didn’t give Rafa enough money. They were this, they were that. They finished 10th. Rafa spent more money and brought more players in and they might finish ninth this year. I dunno what they want.

"Do they want Mike Ashley to say 'here’s a quarter of a billion pounds of my money, you can have it and spend it how you want, Rafa'.

Mike Ashley

Mike Ashley

"It’s not going to happen. It’s not going to happen.

“If you look at the investment he’s made in Newcastle, I don’t get the stick he gets, I really don’t. Then again, I’m not up there seven days a week the way the Newcastle fans are.

"I don’t know what they want from Mike, I really don’t. He’s brought in Rafa Benitez he gets no praise for that. He brought him in. He was the man that said 'I’m going to bring Rafa Benitez into the club' and yet he gets no credit for that.

“It’s a difficult place to attract the very best players because most of the foreign players that come to the UK want to play in London, Manchester or Liverpool.

"They don’t want to play in the North East of England. So it’s difficult to attract the very best players up there.

“If they finish between sixth and 10th most years and win a cup or have a cup run, unless they do a Leicester and surprise us all, I think that’s where they are.”