Rio Ferdinand has got it wrong again about Newcastle United – and Mike Ashley
Rio Ferdinand was an elegant defender during his playing career – but his punditry needs some finessing.
Ferdinand has weighed in on the plight of the club following a dismal run of results which have left Steve Bruce’s side just two points above the relegation zone with nine games left to play.
Bruce, however, still has the backing of Mike Ashley, who has already presided over two relegations as owner.
The club acted too late in 2008/09 and 2015/16, and the failure of late-season managerial changes to arrest slides in those seasons is seemingly seen by Ashley – and the club’s hierarchy – as a strong argument against action this time.
It’s already too late to make a meaningful change, but, arguably, a change is better than no change.
Ashley, though, won’t be bounced or bullied into a decision by fan discontent – and Ferdinand got that bit right on his YouTube channel.
“He doesn't care what people think,” said the former Manchester United and England defender. “It’s his club, and he’s doing what he wants to do.”
Ferdinand – who has business dealings with Ashley – then got it wrong.
“Whether you like it or not, he’s the one that’s put the money up – and he’s doing what he thinks is right for the club,” said Ferdinand, who sells his FIVE clothing line through the Sports Direct empire founded and majority owned by Ashley.
“Whether the Geordies don’t like it, a lot of them hate him and don’t like him, but round your money up – and take over the club then.”
Ashley, fans will argue, does what what he thinks is right for him. Have his actions always been aligned with what’s right for the club?
Also, the suggestion that fans can raise enough to buy the club, which Ashley values at around £300million, is fanciful.
Ferdinand, of course, has previous in terms of backing Ashley.
In January 2019, while Ashley and then-manager Rafa Benitez were locked in a stand-off over transfers and a new contract, he argued against the billionaire committing more money to signings at a time when he was looking to sell the club.
Ferdinand said: “Why is he going to spend more and more money – millions and millions of pounds – when he’s actually looking to sell the club? He’s got them to a point now where they’re back in the Premier League – and they’re consolidating to a certain extent.
“He’s not going to go spend his own money. You wouldn’t go spend your own money now knowing you were trying to sell something unless you knew you were going to get that back.”
The thing is, Ashley did just that with Bruce. He backed him in the transfer market – Joelinton alone cost £40million the summer before last – and look where that spending has got the club.
Bruce's side have won just two of their last 20 games in all competitions – and supporters fear the worst.
Maybe, just maybe, Ashley was wrong then, though that’s something Ferdinand is unlikely to concede.